Could Donald Trump be described as a warrior for free speech?
Before anyone screams autistically about “muh libel laws” (which haven’t changed yet) we should recognize the important role the President of the United States has in setting the general tone. I think we all can see the difference between the tone set by Obama and Trump. Under Trump criticism of the mainstream media is accepted and even encouraged. SJWs no longer enjoy protection from the highest echelons of government. What happens to free speech at “lower levels” of society trickles down from the attitude the governmental leadership displays. It is easy to imagine how different the situation could have been if the wicked witch (Hillary) had won the election. The special status granted to SJWs and their ilk would have been cemented. The special privileges and official sanction would have allowed their views on what is acceptable and non-acceptable speech to become enshrined in all too many aspects of society.
Politics is downstream from culture. A few years ago, I believed that the government was the biggest threat to free speech in the West. That view has now changed, although I still believe people in the third world suffer the most from authoritarian governmental clampdowns on speech. Here in the Western world the censorship that is felt by the man in the street comes from private social media companies and from self-censorship as a response to the violence of the left. Social media companies have increasingly revealed their political biases by bannings (both overt and shadowbannings), giving preference to people with specific political viewpoints and through selective enforcement of their own rules. It has recently been revealed that YouTube heavily favours the Young Tur(d)ks over other similar channels. If I remember correctly it was pointed out on Louder With Crowder.
Self-censorship in contemporary America is a result of the fear many feel due to threats and actual violence by the left. Peaceful gatherings and rallies have been attacked and people have been left bloodied in the streets. This causes many people to refrain from entering the public arena to discuss political topics. Self-censorship is still a form of censorship if it has rational reasons behind it, in this case the reasons are not far-fetched at all unfortunately. Under Obama, Antifa and similar groups could operate with relative impunity, threatening the exercise of the First Amendment rights of many people. On this issue, Trump doesn’t automatically make it better, we still have to fight local authorities that remain committed to supporting the suppression of speech by refusing to arest violent leftists. But what Trump does provide is the removal of any high-level protection the violent thugs have enjoyed in the past. I can’t imagine that Trump or Attorney General Sessions would side with those that employ violence against their political opponents to stifle free speech.
Even if Trump revamps the libel laws, this could be a tool for enhancing free speech. People are justified in their fears of controversial speech, due to some newsoutlets doxxing, lying about or misrepresenting you personally or your viewpoints. This again has the effect of causing self-censorship. When we take into consideration the importance of using words rather than fists to advance political arguments, libel law reform isn’t the boogeyman that the left wants to turn it into.
Another free speech benefit from Trump’s presidency is the enlargement of the overton window. Many different groups previously relegated to hidden, shadowy message boards have dared to come out into the light thanks to the new atmosphere created by Trump. Many different groupings on what used to be the fringes of the right are now out in the open, and are able to challenge the establishment conservatives of the old guard Republican Party. And that can only be a good thing.