Civil Discourse Now

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Indiana rep seeks to require licenses for the press

   Indiana once again has pushed the envelope for regressive thoughts.
   A member of the Indiana House of Representatives, Jim Lucas, who is from John Mellencamp’s home town of Seymour, has drafted a bill that would require professional journalists to be licensed by the Indiana State Police, according to the Indianapolis daily newspaper.
   Lucas bragged that he was a year ahead of Donald Trump on this issue. Trump earlier had said it is “frankly disgusting” that the press can write “whatever they want.” In a Tweet, Trump had asked when is it appropriate to go after the licenses of media who spread “fake news.”
   Perhaps Trump is conversant in the nuances of Article Twelve of the Constitution (to which he once referred and the absence of which from any version of the Constitution should shock those who are enamored by Trump’s knowledge of—well, everything.
   The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
   Each State has its own constitution, with similar protections for speech and press..
   To daily influence opinion has been a goal of authoritarian regimes.
   Perhaps Trump, et all, seek to follow in the footsteps of Minister of Propaganda and Popular Enlightenment, of the Third Reich, Joseph Goebbels, who said, in a March 28, 1933, speech:
 “That is the secret of propaganda: to permeate the person it aims to grasp, without his even noticing that he is being permeated. Of course propaganda has a purpose, but the purpose must be concealed with such cleverness and virtuosity that the purpose on whom this purpose is to be carried out doesn’t notice it at all.”
Evans, The Third Reich in Power, 2005, p. 127.
   The Third Reich required journalists join the Reich Association of the German Press, effectively requiring journalists obtain a license: “Membership ... was not compulsory by law and subject to revocation if a journalist contravened a code of conduct enforced by professional courts.”  Id., p. 144.
   The right to free speech necessarily means the right to criticize, not simply agree. The First Amendment protects those with unpopular ideas. People with popular ideas do not require protection.
   With information on the internet the principal source of information for many people, how soon would a license become necessary simply to voice an opinion on-line. Perhaps Jared Kushner would be appointed Minister of Propaganda and Popular Enlightenment. He could surf the internet for miscreants.
   A dictator does not want to hear opinions that contradict (in this instance) him. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are anathema to authoritarian regimes.
   Obviously, these freedoms are anathema to Trump.

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