Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Freedom of Speech or Cowardice?

By now, you probably have heard about the Trump supporter who asked the candidate a question at a campaign event, and in the process revealed some startling information.

As per CNN:  "We have a problem in this country. It's called Muslims," an unidentified man who spoke at a question-and-answer town hall event in Rochester, New Hampshire asked the mogul at a rally Thursday night. "You know our current president is one. You know he's not even an American."

A seemingly bewildered Trump interrupted the man, chuckling, "We need this question. This is the first question."

"Anyway, we have training camps growing where they want to kill us," the man, wearing a "Trump" T-shirt, continued. "That's my question: When can we get rid of them?"

"We're going to be looking at a lot of different things," Trump replied. "You know, a lot of people are saying that and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening. We're going to be looking at that and many other things."  (http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/17/politics/donald-trump-obama-muslim-new-hampshire/)

In my opinion, if someone asks you "how long have you been beating your wife?" you can properly object that it's a loaded question which assumes the conclusion (unless it's true, of course).  The man's question assumes that Obama is a Muslim, that he's not an American, and oh yes, that there are training camps, apparently well known to the man asking the question and therefore well known to the government as well, and that no one is doing anything about them.  And that our country's "problem" are "Muslims."  Not radical jihadist Muslims, no; not terrorist Muslims, nope.  Muslims, period, which, if words mean anything, means ALL Muslims since no distinctions of any kind are made.

Mr. Trump's response accepts all of this by being silent; it is my recollection that when Mr. Trump disagrees with something he hears, he is not bashful about mentioning it. He has been known to interrupt persons who say something he believes is untrue; in fact, it is a trait for him to interrupt others in this way.  Does he not object to anything the man said; wasn't at least some of it untrue as far as Trump knows?

So are we to understand that he really doesn't think Obama is a Muslim and that he does believe Obama is an American.  Or does my memory deceive me?  Wasn't Donald Trump the most vocal and well know "birther" in the world?  Are Muslims the "problem," Mr. Trump?

Trump's explanations in his own tweets later on are a wonder of misdirection and irrationality.  Here are a couple:

"If I would have challenged the man, the media would have accused me of interfering with that man's right of free speech. A no win situation!"http://www.newsmax.com/Headline/Donald-Trump-Twitter-Iowa-Obama/2015/09/19/id/692389/ )

This is a joke, right?  The Trump supporter had his say, and others have the absolute right to say that, in their opinion, he is wrong.  The First Amendment is NOT immunity to disagreement or criticism of what you've said.  In fact, it is the protection of the right to disagree and criticize to what anyone has said.  Does Donald Trump have any understanding of this?

Here is the other amazing tweet: "Am I morally obligated to defend the president every time somebody says something bad or controversial about him? I don't think so!"  Actually the problem wasn't just that what was said was "bad" or "controversial" - it was that it was untrue and/or bigoted.

When a questioner called Obama an "Arab" at a John McCain campaign event in 2008, McCain DID correct the woman who said it.  He did it politely but clearly and he went as far to say that Obama was a good man and good American.  He was lauded in the press for this correction.  McCain earned much respect with his response.  What negative consequences did he suffer?

Well, apparently McCain DID suffer some consequences.  I suspect that with his reasonable response McCain LOST some of the enthusiasm and votes that Trump has garnered because McCain was not a coward, not a bigot and not a fraud.  Trump, on the other hand, has no problem accepting a statement that paints "Muslims"without any disqualifier as the "problem," that paints Obama as one of those problem Muslims and states that the President of the United States is not an American.  To hold one's tongue in the face of such a question is not free speech - it's cowardice.
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