In 1839, English Author Edward Bulwer-Lytton professed, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” This old adage, taken from the 16th-century proverb, “no more sword to be feared than the learned pen,” suggests that the advocacy and responsible exercise of an independent press can be considerably more persuasive (and effective) than violence.
It is difficult to argue that the premise is untrue. Consider America in the 1960’s, in the midst of racial tensions. Two key figures emerged in the African American community, Malcom X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Where Malcom X pontificated equality by all means necessary and openly condoned the use of violence, Dr. King believed in a peaceful protest that sought to enlighten minds through the broader exposure of wisdom, not blood.
While both of those individuals are revered for their common vision of equality through struggle, Dr. King’s approach (most specifically, his “I Have a Dream” speech) has arguably been more effective through time than the violent intentions of Malcom X.
This is of course only one example. There are countless other times throughout the history of the world where speeches have eclipsed the legacy of battlefields. From Alexander the Great to Mahatma Gandhi to Nelson Mandela to John F. Kennedy, we are reminded of the power of eloquently-communicated words.
Unfortunately in the year 2019, we are faced with an independent press that no longer equates to a press independent of bias. Moreover, we are confronted with press which has most substantially shown contemptuous disregard for the responsibility that goes along with exercising their independence.
President Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, recently advised that Bloomberg News would not be granted admittance to Trump campaign rallies. This comes in response to Bloomberg News, at the direction of their Founder and CEO Michael Bloomberg, stating that they will not engage in investigative reporting of Bloomberg or his opponents vying for the Democratic nomination. It did not take long for the left to denounce Parscale and Trump for what they say “demonstrates an oppressive stance toward the media and disregards the First Amendment.”
Nevermind their hypocrisy – the fact that Candidate Bloomberg and his organization have outright said that the press would be restricted – but focus on their complete lack of constitutional comprehension. That the left continues to misinterpret and even manipulate our Constitution is embarrassing.
This is now the second consecutive article where I’ve offered the text of the First Amendment, but it can never be shared too often. “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.”
Nowhere has the Trump Campaign indicated that they would abridge or in any way censor what the press reports. Conversely, that’s exactly what Bloomberg and the Democrats have done. You may recall the left-wing media lambasting Trump and making the same ridiculous claims that Trump was disregarding the freedom of the press when he suspended Jim Acosta’s White House Press Pass. The assertion is not just wrong, it is willfully ignorant. In the case of Acosta, being a member of the White House Press Pool is a privilege not a right. As it pertains to Bloomberg not being extended an invitation to participate in the Trump Campaign’s Press Pool, that again is a privilege and not a right.
If they choose to do so, nobody is stopping them from buying a ticket to a Trump rally and listening in like everyone else in the crowd has to do. Nobody has told them what they can or cannot report. In fact it’s pretty obvious that the left-wing media has reported mostly in absence of facts for the past several years, in spite of enjoying the privilege of front-row (and behind the scenes) access.
Comparing (and contrasting) our various Constitutional Rights can offer further insight in support of the responsibility that goes along with those Rights. Consider the Second Amendment. There are places where firearms are prohibited or heavily restricted, such as courthouses and hospitals. The restrictions do not prohibit someone’s right to own a firearm, they merely control an area where it is otherwise unlawful to engage with it. Again, with rights come responsibilities. One can make a very logical argument in the face of the left’s aggressive stance on guns, that the damage they have done by proxy of an irresponsible press is far more pandemic and generationally terminal than the tragedies of gun violence.
This does not make the effects of gun violence diminutive in their impact, it only contains that impact. Where tens of thousands are impacted by gun violence every year, hundreds of millions will be impacted for decades to come as a result of the media’s implicit bias and dishonesty. Can you tell me how many people were murdered in 1776, or are you more familiar with the Declaration of Independence? Can you tell me the name of even one mass shooter in 1965, or are you more familiar with the US decision to send troops to Vietnam? More recently, can you tell me how many or even the name of just one victim of gun violence in 2001, or do the words “weapons of mass destruction in Iraq” first come to mind?
What our media reports and how they report it has generational effects that transcend not only states, but also countries. It can be exponentially more problematic. While this power can be helpful it can also be both physically and intellectually perilous. Thomas Paine said it best when he remarked, “There are two distinct classes of what are called thoughts: those that we produce in ourselves by reflection and the act of thinking, and those that bolt into the mind of their own accord.” The latter could be considered reflexive thinking, or that which has subconsciously taken root upon being relentlessly indoctrinated.
There is no logical way to contest the assertion that the media is weaponizing a constitutional right that was intended to provide the preservation of liberty. Instead, they have removed the neutrality borne of a free press by our founders in favor of a press politically-motivated and intellectually compromised. The next time the left chooses to base their gun control arguments on the fact that the Second Amendment was written at the time of muskets, perhaps we should remind them that the First Amendment was written at the time of quill and ink on parchment paper. How inclined would the Press be to return to those mediums, and delivery of the news by carrier pigeon? It would be far less dangerous – by their own logic.