Our Viewpoint: The Right to Protest Hate is not an Infringement of Rights

Category:  Opinions
Thursday, March 24th, 2016 at 7:42 AM
Our Viewpoint: The Right to Protest Hate is not an Infringement of Rights by The Spectator
Protesters flood Chicago streets to denounce Trump’s vitriolic rhetoric.

Every week on Tuesday nights The Spectator holds its meeting. Our tradition is for each editor to stand in front of our white board and pitch story ideas. The Voices section is unique in that I have to pick a “Viewpoint” and have the staff vote on the idea at hand. If it doesn’t garner enough support, the idea gets tossed. It’s hard to pick topics to write about where virtually everyone agrees. So, when I pitched the idea that we should do a viewpoint on whether or not Donald Trump and his supporters were being denied first amendment rights, I approached the topic with trepidation. Don’t get me wrong, no one at The Spectator endorses Donald Trump, but a lot of people like their rights to be intact. I imagined, as they probably did, themselves being denied the right to hear someone speak because of the “threat” of protesters. When I pitched the topic, I suggested that I would write it from two perspectives: the Trump supporter perspective and the perspective of the protester. With few objections, I assumed the concept would be okay. I pitched my other ideas.

When I sat down to write this, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, 75 percent of which is filled with videos of Trump; he saturates the media whether we like it or not. In fact, he’s saturating a small-town college paper right now, taking up space that would otherwise be going to a more moderate, establishment Republican. And while I hate being a small member of a bigger media scheme that is focusing time and energy on him, we kind of have to at this point. To ignore the Trump problem is to deny it exists. It is to deny the unsettling dregs of society who are verbosely resurfacing to reduce the gains in equality we’ve made.

The video I watched of Donald Trump that day reminded me it’s okay to refuse others from having the platform to espouse their ideas to an already disillusioned and enraged electorate. Mostly, when I watched the video, in the back of my mind was my grandmother. It was during spring break that the Chicago protesters had caused Trump to cancel his rally. I was folding laundry, watching her out of the corner of my eye. My grandmother grew up in the 1930s, she had a hard life, but she’s a strong woman and she has survived more than most. When I saw a tear trickle from her eye, it hit me like a freight train that this was the human cost of spreading hate. This was the result of having so little decorum and respect for others that you cause an elderly woman who has lived through the Great Depression to cry. That image paired with the video I was watching made it clear to me that I could not write both sides to this story without breaking my morality.

Before I begin explaining why I won’t support anyone but the protesters, let me make one thing clear, I stand with constitutional attorney Andrew Seidel, who works for the Freedom from Religion Foundation, and who garnered minor notoriety for his response to Trump’s tweet: “The organized group of people, many of them thugs, who have shut down our First Amendment rights in Chicago, have totally energized America.” To which Seidel replied, with much support, “The First Amendment protects citizens from the government, not from unfriendly audiences. The President couldn’t ‘open up’ libel laws against the media, as you have proposed, because that actually would be violating two First Amendment rights: free speech and press. The government didn’t shut down your rally; in fact, the police didn’t even raise any safety concerns (despite what you said). You see, the First Amendment protects everyone, including fascists like yourself. The First Amendment is the only thing keeping your (expletive) from getting sued for inciting violence, though you’re not toeing that line very well.”

What Seidel says holds so much weight, but no one is going to cover his sentiments. No one will see those remarks except politically-inclined Millennials, and there are unfortunately not many that care, as indicated by our low polling demographics.

To get back to the video, you can’t watch it and not feel the heart-wrenching hatred that emanates from what appears to be exclusively the fascist-right. Watching the video, even I began to tear up as a man shouted, “Go back to Africa” to a quiet protester who replied, “Go back to Europe.” “(Expletive) you too (expletive),” was his response.

I’m watching two grown men’s mugshots from South Boston as the local news anchor talks about them urinating on a homeless man who they thought was Hispanic. They beat him up and broke his nose says the anchor, and when they were arrested, they told police, “It was okay to assault the man because he was Hispanic and homeless, Donald Trump was right.”

I’m watching Trump telling his audiences to “knock the crap out of ” protesters because he’ll “pay the legal fees.” I watch as a protester who is being escorted out is sucker punched in the head by a Trump supporter, and in an interview later he says, “Yes he deserved it, the next time we see him, we might have to kill him.”

“These are not people,” Trump says. “We must remember that.” Calls to mind a choice German dictator, does it not?

His absurd comments go on, and on, and on, and on.

Perhaps Trump said it best in his book, “The Art of the Deal”: You can’t con people, at least not for long. You can create excitement, you can do wonderful promotion and get all kinds of press, and you can throw in a little hyperbole. But if you don’t deliver the goods, people will eventually catch on.”

Should a man that’s known solely in the public eye for his red-faced tantrums have access to nuclear codes and the might of the US military? Would pledging our votes to a reality TV star with an entourage of failed business ventures all based on a lifestyle brand most of his supporters couldn’t afford possibly help our economy? His money, his “success,” is inherited. Even his family’s inheritance, which gave Trump such great advantage, was enabled and buffered by governmental aid and financing legislation — programs which his supporters will ironically call “government handouts” in any other context. There is nothing self-made about Trump. He is a lifelong TV star playing his megalomaniac infomercial for the populace. Stop buying what he’s pretending to sell.

Our Viewpoint is voted on by the staff of The Spectator.

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