Culture

SNL Making Fun of Trump Absolutely Is Legal

Alex Baldwin plays President Trump in a Saturday Night Live skit on December 1, 2018. (Saturday Night Live/YouTube)
The president seems to suggest that the comedy show should be censored.

On Sunday morning, President Donald Trump fired off a tweet attacking Saturday Night Live for attacking him so much — even suggesting that it “can’t be legal” for the show to do so.

It’s true — SNL does make fun of Trump a lot. Like, a lot a lot. In fact, I agreed with Rob Schneider when he said that they’ve made fun of Trump so much that it makes it hard for a lot of the jokes to be funny, since “there’s no possible surprise.” I’d also imagine that it’s difficult for Trump to see himself getting made fun of so often — but suggesting that the show needs to be “tested in courts” because it “can’t be legal” is un-American and terrifying.

I mean, what is he even talking about? How could the show’s actions possibly be illegal? Even aside from the fact that SNL is definitely not a “news” show the way that Trump characterized it to be, this is the United States of America. In this country, our media and entertainment outlets have absolute freedom to make fun of authority figures as much as they want — and thank God that they do.

If you’re a huge Trump supporter, I could totally understand how the constant bashing of your favorite president might get to you. I could totally understand that you might share Trump’s frustration. But still, no matter how much you support him or his agenda, you should not support tweets like this one if our country’s freedoms mean anything to you.

See, in other countries, the sorts of things that they do on SNL absolutely are illegal. In some countries, you can’t make fun of people in power whatsoever. One of the most beautiful things about this country is that you can do that. It’s true: SNL could make fun of Trump even more than it already does, and it would still be completely free and safe to do so — because we are grateful enough to have that check on government power in this country, and it shouldn’t be something we should be willing to throw away, or even moderately compromise, simply because we’re frustrated with the way that it’s being used.

If Trump doesn’t like the way he’s being treated in the media, he has every right to say so. He has free speech too, and he can use it to slam his detractors if he wants. What he can’t do, however, is use his power to silence the voices that are against him — and, no matter how much you love him, you shouldn’t want him to. Think about it: How would you feel if President Obama was tweeting that Fox News “can’t be legal” because of how often it ran negative coverage of him? You probably wouldn’t like it, and you shouldn’t like this either. Because as soon as we allow our leaders to have this kind of power, they’re always going to have it, regardless of who is president.

If you’re displeased with the way that a media or entertainment outlet is using its free-speech rights, then fine — in this country, you’re lucky enough to have your own so you can speak out against that. But the last thing we should be doing is saying it’s somehow okay for any government leader to even suggest that he has any kind of legal power to limit speech that is critical of him. That’s asking us to take one step away from freedom and one step towards a regime like North Korea — and that’s not something I would ever consider to be worth that, not even if there was an outlet that was personally attacking me and my family around the clock. I may not like it, just like many of you might not like the constant bashing of Trump, but I would never even for a second suggest that the answer was for the government to take away the rights and freedoms that make this country so special.

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