Tuesday, November 29, 2016

#GivingTuesday On the ACLU, Freedom of Expression, and a Reading List

image courtesy Freeimages.com by Mike Minor
I'm in a constant mental clash between the hermit impulse (that's stronger this winter than ever before) and a frantic need to stay informed every single second. What I really, really want to do is tune out politics until inauguration day and draw the skeletal trees and the lacy patterns they make against the perfect white-grey sky.

But I wake up and check Twitter. Then I stay there, branching off in thirty directions, having inevitably woken to some new serious concern about the President-Elect. On top of that, the crisis at Standing Rock continues. Students were attacked at OSU yesterday. Today, a huge destination and lovely part of Appalachia I've always wanted to visit burnt catastrophically.

This morning, my Twitter feed was a flurry of reactions to the President-Elect's tweet that flag burning should be a crime (although this was decided in a 1989 Supreme Court Case, he has used language before that indicates his disregard for SCOTUS precedent) and that further tossed out the idea that offenders could spend a year in jail, or lose citizenship.

Or lose citizenship.

Two simultaneous camps had emerged, and both I feel are absolutely valid. One wondering what that is meant to distract from, and the other reacting to the implications of the PEOTUS' words themselves. I think at this point it's obvious that he's using Twitter tirades to distract from his cabinet appointments, which are a worrisome bunch, to put it very mildly. But whatever his motivations, those words are out there for the world to see. And there's a consistent backstory to his relationship to the press that we can't ignore. He has taken to online attacks on reporters who've written pieces he dislikes; he singled out NBC's Katy Tur at a rally during the campaign, and blocked access to newspapers who reported cutting critiques of his rhetoric.

At the ACLU town hall, freedom of speech emerged, in my interpretation, as the most serious right at risk under a Trump administration. It's fundamental to fight all other forms of oppression: The right to assemble in protest and the right to speak out against power structures that threaten civil liberties for all.

This is not a partisan issue. The ACLU is decidedly, necessarily nonpartisan.
I have a really odd and moving story to illustrate this point, but it'll have to wait. I've had to piece this together through a power outage and pain breaks.


Here are articles I've found informative about how to sort out the messages of the PEOTUS and his cabinet picks and some plans of action. Though my reading leans, of course, to the left, these concerns themselves cross party barriers. These issues touch the foundations of our democracy. Having been a Trump voter does not mean you may not critique his choices and actions. We've all got to stay informed and active. Whether or not his campaign appealed to you, his cabinet and statements show a drastic difference in policy, tone, and approach to the office of president itself.
The most important takeaway from these guides and the constitutional lawyer who spoke at the ACLU meeting is this: Call or write your senators and representatives. Personally. Online petitions are universally ignored. There are talking points online and scripts you can adapt, but make it personal. Most lawmakers don't pay attention to social media, though some do have Google Alerts set up for their names. I'll be contacting Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito both. Rolling back civil rights is not a partisan issue. It's a constitutional issue. Confirming appointments like Jeff Sessions as Attorney General would move our republic backward. 

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