What’s Puzzling Trump? Puerto Rico, The US Virgin Islands, and the First Amendment

One of the realities of having a president who tweets and talks off-the-cuff as much as Donald Trump, is that his words often give insight into topics he doesn’t have a clear grasp on. While it is easy to poke fun and laugh, the president is the representative of the people, so it follows that the average American probably needs a primer on the same issues the president may need a primer on. So, whether you think you know better than The Donald, or whether you were unsure of the same issues, here is a look at a few recent items the president wasn’t so clear on.

Geography: Where is ?
Back in September, was explaining the delays in getting aid to Puerto Rico and reminded the public that Puerto Rico is “an island sitting in the middle of an ocean — and it’s a big ocean, a really, really big ocean.”

Fair enough, Puerto Rico is an island and it is a little harder to get there. But, it isn’t in the middle of the ocean. It’s probably safe to assume that Donald Trump isn’t alone and that most Americans may not know exactly where Puerto Rico is.

It’s actually in the Caribbean, near Cuba and The Dominican Republic. Only its eastern edge touches the Atlantic Ocean. The map below will help you place it. Look for the red island with the circle around it.

Government: Who is the president of the ?
Well, the fact that they are called the US Virgin Islands might give you a clue that Donald Trump is also president of this United States territory, but the commander-in-chief got a little confused about this fact in a speech he gave last week.

He mentioned that he had spoken to the president of the US Virgin Islands. While it is possible that he regularly talks to himself, we know that he recently met with the governor of the island.

To put it plainly, since the islands are a US territory, Donald Trump is their president, too. In case you missed this, here’s a video of him going off-script in a speech and making the gaffe.

Television: How do broadcasting licenses work?
In a Twitter tirade against , the president suggested it might be time to revoke ’s . Fortunately, for NBC, that isn’t how broadcast licenses work. What the president, and we’ll assume the average American, is unclear on, is that NBC doesn’t actually have a .

When you watch NBC, you are watching an independently owned local television station that has an affiliate agreement to air NBC’s programming. To blot NBC off the airwaves, Donald Trump would have to actively campaign to revoke the licenses of hundreds of independent stations in all 50 states.

The airwaves do belong to the public, and the licenses to use those airwaves can be questioned and revoked, but the airwaves are also local. Some stations may be owned by large national conglomerates, but many are local businesses that you wouldn’t want to see politicians in Washington D.C. going after.

The Constitution: What is the First Amendment?
In addition to his attacks on NBC, the Trump also said he felt it was “disgusting” that the press can write about whatever they want, and has attacked NFL players for protesting during the national anthem. While these two issues may seem unrelated, they are both protected by the of the Constitution, an amendment Donald Trump either doesn’t understand or just doesn’t like very much.

Here is the text of the First Amendment, because if the president doesn’t understand it, it’s entirely possible that as the people’s representative, you may be rusty on it, too:

“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.”

The First Amendment guarantees that the press has the right to publish whatever it wants, even if it is anti-government sentiment, and it guarantees NFL players the right not to stand during the National Anthem, even if the fans, owners, and politicians don’t like that form of protest.

The First Amendment allows you to worship freely, and to speak your mind freely, it allows you to express your opinions without fear of punishment or penalty from your government, and it allows you to assemble with other people who hold your views in a peaceful protest. Most importantly, it allows you to petition the government when you have grievances against the government. It allows you to question the government, ask the government for changes, and approach a government you disagree with without fear of being thrown in jail or killed for it.

Above all issues and rights in this country, the First Amendment is one that you want and need your president to understand, because the First Amendment is freedom.

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