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  • Writer's pictureRKPROST

The First Six Freedoms

This week, I engaged with three programs. First, I listened to ABC’s This Week episode titled We’re Working Toward War with Iran: Pompeo, which aired on Sunday, September 22nd. The topics co-anchor Martha Raddatz addressed included the president dialing back on Iran by choosing sanctions over military action, the possibility of the release of transcripts showing President Trump pushing the Ukrainian President to investigate Joe Biden, and commemorating the life and legacy of anchor Cokie Roberts. From this episode, I wondered to what degree should the government be transparent with the American people?

President Trump is a paradox with the methods and severity of communications he shares with the public. On one hand, President Trump openly expresses his opinions on Twitter. Personally, I view messages he posts on social media as a less formal method of sharing ideas. On the other hand, President Trump hesitated to officially release the transcript from this conversation with the Ukrainian President. An article from the Washington Post reported the record the president released does not contain the exact wording exchanged between the leaders. Would this be an example where the government exercised a form of prior restraint before releasing the transcript? Although the note-takers may have limited ability to directly transcribe on paper, these notes approved for widespread dissemination may have removed some of the content. Similar to the government receiving public pressure to release the transcript, they also feel pressure regarding climate action.

After the public access programming, I listened to the September 20th On the Media Podcast titled Too Hot for School. Bob Garfield and Brooke Gladstone discussed the parallels between Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal during the Great Depression era and the Green New Deal, as well as the impact of the worldwide climate change strikes. Jane McAlevey is an author, scholar, union organizer, and political commentator who chatted with Brooke Gladstone. McAlevey commented we need to “specifically say to the American worker you will hold the exact standard you have in the fossil fuel sector in the clean economy sector.” The advancing green technology can provide job opportunities and a cleaner environment. I agree with McAlevey who said society must awaken to the idea that the environmental movement and trade union are interconnected.

There is a disconnect between what politicians think what the public wants and what the public actually wants. For example, the podcast mentioned VSCO girls and the increase in young, mobile activists. People view the VSCO girl’s freedom of expression as a joke even though the environmentally conscious lifestyle they support on a fundamental level is a serious topic. However, it is easy to overlook these teenagers and treat their behavior as a meme or stupid, but by doing so, it glosses over the issues affecting young people. It seems as though there is a resurgence in widespread strikes, ranging from teachers to hotel workers to those in the automobile industry. These people are proof of one’s ability to organize, take a stand, demand more, and win.

With a countdown to irreversible environmental damage, young people are exercising their First Amendment right to free speech and peaceably assemble through climate change strikes. Many social media influencers encourage their followers to join in the widespread propagation of environmental activism, specifically their participation in the recent climate change strikes. Using these digital platforms reaches millions of youth motivating them to take a stand. It also validates the movement for older generations when news stations cover the events.

Last fall, journalists pushed the United Nation’s IPCC report regarding the world having 12 years to reduce carbon emissions in the world, into the mainstream. The media associated these quantifiable years with the imagery of a ticking clock, which played a role in the recent surge in support for climate action. While the media reports on people’s lived experiences of severe hurricanes, rainstorms, and fires, they do not connect the extreme weather back to the government’s lack of action to slow climate change. Although there is a generational, political, and international divide, we must exercise our First Amendment right to embark on united action to improve the present day by solving global problems for the sake of future generations.

I also listened to the first episode of the Most Perfect Album podcast from September 18, 2018. Sarah Qari and Burt Neuborne, the Norman Dorsen Professor of Civil Liberties, focused on the structure of the First Amendment. Neuborne pointed out how the Founding Fathers of the Constitution ordered the words to follow the lifecycle of a democratic idea. What stood out to me was the imagery of an idea as a concentric circle forming in someone’s mind and reverberating outward to the entire polity at large. This emphasized how empowering the first amendment is for any person to gather their thoughts, share their idea, create a movement, and bring their argument to the government to make a change.

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