Benjamin, Aaronson, Edinger & Patanzo, P.A.

Trump exercises Free Speech for a Free Ride

It is well established that Freedom of Speech and Press are not absolute rights in the
United States. For example: yelling fire in a crowded movie theater; obscenity;
disseminating military secrets in a time of war; and fighting words have been deemed to not
be protected by the First Amendment. As to the later, fighting words, throughout this country
we have elevated crimes based upon not only actions, but at times, the words that accompany
those actions.

Punching someone in the face is by and large a battery. Punching that same person
in the face while uttering an ethnic slur or some type of religious intolerance usually elevates
that battery to a heightened crime, i.e. a hate crime. We punish it more severely, even though
the damage to the face is exactly the same. Somehow the motivation of hate because of
ethnic, religious, racial or gender in our society’s eyes makes the harm greater and therefore,
the commensurate punishment must be greater.

It certainly can be argued that the hate involved in the assault is irrelevant to the action
and that Freedom of Speech allows for those words to be uttered at the time of the assault.
Therefore, heightening a crime because of the hatred motivation or the words accompanying
the assault violates Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Thought.

Yet, we have grown to accept as a society that violence in the name of hatred, because
of ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender has no part in our civilized society.
We have come to accept that running the risk of being assaulted just because of race,
religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender is intolerable in a free society. We have come
to accept the notion that those who do violence because of hate are somehow more evil than
those who do the exact same violence in the name of rage, revenge or even folly.

Contrast those acceptances with the 2016 political campaign. Donald Trump, using
his First Amendment Rights, has vilified Mexicans and Muslims. He has insulted the
handicapped and those accepted as war heros. He has used hate and divisiveness to fuel his
success in this year’s campaign.

So the irony of this rhetoric is that when Donald Trump states that Mexicans are drug
smugglers, rapists and killers, he is exercising his Freedom of Speech and unfortunately
receives from his audience overwhelming applause. Yet, if that same rhetoric, those exact
same words, are used by a white skinhead while attacking a Latino, we now have a hate
crime. Even more ironic would be that Donald Trump, under these circumstances, would
disavow that his speech played any part or fueled the assault.

Should Donald Trump be prohibited from voicing his thoughts? Absolutely not.
Should he be held responsible if someone utters his exact words while committing an
assault? Again, the answer should be no. He has not told anyone to go out and commit
violence, even if his rhetoric is the catalyst. But what must be done is a clear voice from the
left and from the right that what he is preaching is hate speech.

Instead of that resounding chorus from the media that his speech is intolerable and
violates all senses of decency that we respect as a country, we have gotten just the opposite.
No network is mandated to play Donald Trump’s clips 30 minutes in a week on national
news, while all the other candidates combined get 7. No network is mandated to show
Donald Trump rallies while excluding rallies for all other candidates. No network is required
to talk about Trump 24/7. Yet they do.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s, network news was a losing venture. The networks put on
their news programs as public services and not as money-making endeavors. However, that
is not the case now. Money making drives network news. Donald Trump is the car wreck
that we all can’t wait to see; the gory detail that we all talk about; and the outrageous
comment that causes us to snicker.

Because he is the showman, because he is the headline grabber, because he is that
precious sound bite, those that know what he stands for and what he is about call him
controversial, rather than a demagog. Those that know what he is about don’t call him out
for his comments, but rather call him for a comment. Those that know what he is about don’t
stand up to him, but rather want to sit down with him. Those that know what he is about are
more interested in their ratings, than they are of the rating of this country.

It is ironic that all the major networks have made it policy that during a football game
or other sporting event, that should a fan run onto the field, that fan is not shown. The fan
does not care about the repercussions, but just wants the glory of being on national television.
By not showing that fan run on the field, it is believed and probably holds true, that there are
less interruptions to the game by those seeking that fleeting fame. Yet, those same networks
go out of their way to show the shock value of Donald Trump.

We would be horrified if the news media stopped covering Donald Trump because
of his message. But there is a great difference between not covering him and Trump 24/7.
There is a great difference between creating the monster and feeding it, than reporting on it.

Trump brags that he is 32 million dollars under budget for his campaign. Free press
constantly will do that. It is time the media stopped giving him a free ride. Cover him in
proportion to other candidates. Stop enjoying the train wreck and focus on the casualties.
And then maybe have enough coverage to tell it like it is and withstand his wrath.

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