Peaceful Assemblies and Free Speech

After watching the despicable group of college students at Middlebury College in Vermont seemingly protesting a speaker, I felt it was time to address these protests again. The people who were protesting used planned phrases, turned their backs, shouted down any attempt for the invited speaker to talk. If they did not want to hear the speaker, no one was forcing them to come. Their best form of protest was to boycott or just remain silent and engage in dialogue afterward. They lost an opportunity to engage with another with controversial views and history and chose instead to remain inside their safe space and bubble atmosphere.

Protesters can become too resolute after their group becomes something else that does not fit the protester definition. Once that occurs, they become merely a one sided bullying gang without any chance for resolution or debate. They lose whatever message of grievance they have and also the support of others through their disgraceful actions. There is a difference having resolve for your conviction and taking resolute actions are merely unyielding, in your face to others with opposing viewpoints, and obstinate. A protest which devolves in this manner eliminates an assembly’s right of free speech and peaceful assembly given to all Americans within the Constitution. Remember that the right of free speech is not absolute and there are exceptions such as yelling fire in a crowded theater when there is no fire.

A group who peacefully assembles and protests their grievances must then allow their grievances not only to be heard but responded to. Otherwise they are just shouting at themselves while others are shut down without any opportunity to provide either explanation or rebuttal. Citizens who exercise their right to assembly to address grievances need to then listen to the free speech of the other side with respect no matter how much they disagree. There is zero respect for this new group of disruptive “protesters” who merely want to shout down, demean, disrupt, or vehemently insult or assault others either verbally or, in many cases now, physically. They are no longer protesters by any definition, but disruptive bullies who would choose anarchic actions versus even attempting to find common ground to move forward.

I challenge anyone who support these reactionaries merely with the comeback of “they have the right of free speech” since these groups are clearly not allowing free speech of others themselves. It is not acceptable, not the American way, and many of us are getting tired of in your face versus genuine face to face cooperation and dialogue. Mere resolute radical anger without respect does not solve anything; dialogue does have that chance.


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