No First Amendment rights were trampled on in Chicago

Donald Trump is wrong for thinking supporters had their freedom of speech rights violated because his Chicago rally was canceled by protesters. Freedom of speech is one of the foundations of America. It’s something people cling to as a basic right of existence, except when they’re trying to silence those who disagree with them (hi SJW’s). But the notion the free speech rights of Trump supporters were infringed upon because of the protesters outside is laughable and simply not true. The First Amendment says so (emphasis mine).

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.

Section One of the 14th Amendment expands the Bill of Rights to state and local governments, but says nothing about an unruly mob trying to protest outside a political event. John may disagree with me on this, and I see where he’s coming from, but the Constitution is clear: the government can’t stop events. But this doesn’t mean the anti-Trump protesters are free and clear to simply barge into any event or home they see fit. Michigan Congressman Justin Amash points out how protesters do face consequences for hijacking rallies, especially if they’re private events.

So there you have it. Protesters are more than welcome to yell and scream until they commit a crime. Simply protesting outside an event, and forcing its cancelation, isn’t a violation of free speech. It’s simply using the First Amendment to protest against someone people don’t agree with. It’s like the Trump supporter deciding to throw up the Nazi salute to counter-protest the anti-Trump supporters: completely constitutional and not a violation of the First Amendment. It also means Trump can send supporters to try to shut down the next Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton rally, even if they might face charges of trespassing or assault if they attack someone. But for him to suggest otherwise is ludicrous and shows he either a) hasn’t read the Constitution or b) doesn’t care.

But there’s a larger debate on the idea of free speech going on here too. If the Constitution limits the federal/state/local government from infringing upon free speech, does it mean public colleges and universities have the right to enact “free speech zones”? I personally don’t think so because almost all of their funding comes from the government. Private universities can do whatever they want, but I do not believe public universities can when it comes to the First Amendment (and the Second for that matter). The only exceptions are for teacher offices and dorm rooms (not common areas) because those are essentially private areas. But this doesn’t mean the campus has the right to ban certain items or speech in those areas. That should be left up to the individuals who live or work in the private areas. The same goes for “free speech zones.” The entire campus should be considered a “free speech zone” and people should be allowed to protest or advocate whatever they want, as long as no one gets physically hurt.

There really needs to be a greater understanding of what “freedom of speech” means and what constitutes a violation of it. The government can’t shut down a public protest or event. A large gathering of people outside an event can, as long as they aren’t throwing punches or hurling rocks or whatever. If they go inside, they can be removed by security and (maybe) rally attendees as long as no violence happens. To suggest a counter-protest somehow violates freedom of speech shows a lack of understanding of what free speech is or just willful ignorance of what it is. Not everyone is going to agree with this, and that’s fine. But those who yell, “Constitution! Constitution!” need to spend more time examining (and understanding) what it means before claiming their rights have been violated.

David Strom 6:41 PM on September 26, 2022