President Donald Trump of the United States of America vowed in a speech back when he was still a candidate of the presidential seat, to protect the freedom of speech. He has been promising this since he was still a candidate during the Republican National Convention last July 2016. This and a few other promises were made during the convention. It has been almost one, now the question is, has this promise been fulfilled in the past few months?
Many people have been skeptical about this promise and not just the promise but also about President Trump himself. He has been receiving criticisms about the decisions he has made so far as well as those that are still to be made. And one of these is the promise about the freedom of speech. So to what extent is this freedom to be exercised? What is the scope of freedom to be expressed?
One of the areas of media that might be affected by Trump’s “free speech” is the internet. The internet has already been neutralized since the Obama administration. What did it mean when they neutralized the internet? It simply means that there are regulations that will either allow or forbid internet service providers or ISPs to favor several web contents over other contents in terms of accessibility. Without these regulations, some web contents are offered as paid premium to ISP’s for faster accessibility.
New regulations however can be made through person that the new president has appointed to be the head of the Federal Communications Commission. These regulations are made to avoid online discrimination. President Trump picked Ajit Pai to head the said commission. Pai has already served on the FCC during the previous Obama Administration. Having been in service during the previous administration gives him immunity from having to undergo confirmation hearings. He can just simply assume the role as FCC head.
So what can be the status of the internet be in the Trump administration? To give you an idea, Ajit Pai actually opposes the regulations on neutrality. This opposition comes from his traditional right wing roots to regulations concerning economic and business scopes. He also plans to bring up these regulations before the commission for further considerations. Pai is planning to widen accessibility to internet service providers who can get a boost economically due to an inflow of cash. However, several personalities have criticized Pai’s plans.
Houses of Worship
When it comes to expressions of faith and worship, the Trump administration might be quite a selective type of administration in terms of faith and religion. Back in 2015, Donald Trump who was then the Republican presidential forerunner has made statements and suggestion about shutting down several houses of prayer, specifically mosques. This suggestion was made in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris and the arguments and debates about the refugees from Syria. Moving forward to 2017, President Donald Trump recently signed an Executive Order to allow religious groups to actively participate in political issues which was not allowed in previous years. The order was signed last May 4th of this year, Thursday.
Religious groups are fundamentally exempted from paying their taxes. However, the 1954 Johnson Amendment prohibits non-profit religious groups to get involved with politics, specifically in endorsing a political candidate. Otherwise, their tax exemption will be revoked. Trump, though, signed this new order that will allow religious groups to participate in political issues. Several activities, however, are still prohibited.
Silence of the Press
President Trump has also been identified to despise the press. Freedom of speech, information and the press is part of democracy. In order for democracy to function well, there has to be freedom in these three. However, they are considered threats to the Trump administration.
Trump continues to insist that he is the voice of the majority of the people as evidenced by his victory over his opponent, Hilary Clinton, during the presidential race. He believes that he represents the people and that he will be serving the people. However, the democratic citizens seem to be cynical about it. They think that the new president is just trying to put the people into mute mode especially those who do not and will not support his policies. Trump seems to be shutting down those people who are against him. And the most effective way to do so is to attack the press.
Early this year, the Trump administration announced a temporary media blackout about the Environmental Protection Agency. All new business activities were also suspended temporarily. External communications were also barred. They may not look like a total press blackout, but several of Trump’s actions and decisions have been misunderstood as one. Perhaps, we can just all wait and see.
So what do you think of Trump’s first few months as president?
What do you think press will become during the Trump administration?
What is your conviction about the change that is starting to happen in the country and what should your response be?