As the corporations move to complete their takeover of the government, stamping out whatever democracy we have, the attack on the press and journalists, along with other human and civil rights, is heating up. Our First Amendment rights of freedom of the press, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are being targeted.
In the ongoing standoff at Standing Rock, ND between the Sioux people and allied water protectors and the pipeline corporation, there have been arrests and attacks on protesters and on journalists who are there to document this historic resistance. Amy Goodman of ‘Democracy Now’ was arrested on trespassing charges, since dropped, for documenting the brutal attack against peaceful protesters by the pipeline company. Documentary filmmaker Deia Schlosberg faces up to 45 years for three felony charges for filming an act of civil disobedience there. A journalist was struck with a rubber bullet.
Citizen journalists recording police brutality and murders in other cities are being targeted and arrested. Ramsey Orta, who recorded the choking death by police of Eric Garner is in jail, on trumped-up charges. Others are being assaulted by the police and their cameras confiscated and destroyed.
When he was a candidate, Donald Trump declared that if President he would amend laws to make it easier to sue the press and to weaken its First Amendment protections, targeting news outlets he considers ‘unfair’. Such laws will be aimed at all media that speak the truth.
The billionaire class that no longer needs the labor of millions of us is consolidating its power using fascist methods. They must impose austerity and a police state to enforce their rule and continuing profits as millions fight for their survival. They cannot allow news of the growing unity of our demands for a transformed world and for a government that represents our interests and not corporate interests.
In 1837, the abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy was murdered by a pro-slavery mob in Alton, Illinois. His newspaper office was burned and his printing press dumped in the river. This attack showed the power of a truth-telling press and what the enemies of freedom will do to try to silence it. Instead, it became a rallying-cry for the movement to abolish slavery that led to the Civil War and emancipation.
Our fight continues under new conditions as our class struggles to throw off the chains of want expressed as homelessness, mass incarceration and the destruction of the environment in the name of private profit. The press of a movement and a cause, and all voices that speak the truth, will be the target of those who seek to perpetuate a profit-driven system in the interest of the corporate class.
There is an old saying: no force of earth is as powerful as an idea whose time has come. The movement to save the Earth, for the necessities of life and a right to share in the abundance the new technology is creating, is today’s cause. Its outcome will be a transformed social system based on sharing and cooperation. A truly free press, especially one that spreads this vision, must be fought for. Defend the First Amendment. Defend the truth-tellers!