WASHINGTON, March 20, 2016 — Americans treasure their right to speak freely. They have the right to peacefully demonstrate without incident or repercussion from law enforcement. But when boundaries are overstepped and the rights of others are trampled, there must be consequences.
To disregard someone else’s rights in order to block an opposing message is preposterous. It contradicts the First Amendment, and it also illustrates the lengths some people and parties will go to in order to achieve their own agenda.
An organization calling itself MoveOn.org Political Action took credit for the violence at the canceled Donald Trump rally in Chicago. They promised that the same violence and disruption would accompany other Trump campaign events leading up to the election.
The organization, funded by billionaire George Soros, endorsed and supports Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders. According to the Washington Times, Moveon.Org also conducted fund-raising activities connected to the Chicago protests and promised more disruptions are on the way.
Anti-Trump protests in Utah and Arizona bear out that promise. While the demonstration in Arizona was much calmer than the protest in Chicago, protesters trampled the rights of people trapped by their protest. They blocked highway traffic for over two hours in an attempt to prevent Trump supporters from arriving at a rally, a tactic at odds with norms of political speech and expression. It was illegal and incompatible with the First Amendment.
The rally in Utah was an echo from Chicago. Protesters tore down a security tent and tried to break through doors to get into the rally. They threw rocks not only at police, but at people exiting the front doors as well.
Ian Decker, an organizer with the University of Utah’s Students for a Democratic Society chapter stated that he hoped for a large contingent that would walk about a block to the rally, be very loud and refuse to leave. He told Matthew Piper of The Salt Lake Tribune, “If we get a lot of people out, we’ll be much more confrontational.” He added, “If we get 60 or 70 people out, we’ll be a lot more standoffish.”
Police in Kansas City, Missouri confirmed the use of pepper spray during protests in the streets around a theater where Trump held a rally. They also said a “fogger” was deployed to disperse “two large groups (200+) preparing to fight”.
There is a difference between freedom of speech and preventing others from practicing the same right. No one has the right to prevent others hearing political speech that will help them to make sound voting decisions, no matter who the candidate is that they’re protesting. As Herman Cain told Fox News, “Free speech isn’t somebody’s right to try to silence somebody else.”
These organized and violent protests are not an expression of the First Amendment, nor are they consistent with its exercise. They should be roundly condemned as the illegal activities they are. This is America, not some third-world satrapy where violent political practices are commonplace.
Political parties and allied organizations should not be allowed to resort to and promote such practices. The United States is trying to elect a president, not a Godfather. This country should serve to be an example to the world. It should be seen as a prime example of a civilized electoral system under the rule of law. Democracy and the rule of law demand of a nation’s citizens that they be self-restrained and adult, but we see a wave of mindless and immature behavior dominating our electoral process. Shameful.