The American Right To Protest
There’s been a lot of flack about the recent protests against the war in Iraq and maybe it’s time to remind everyone that the U.S. Constitution assures us we have Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Expression and the Right To Assemble.
Those protesting war in general or the action going on in Iraq have the same rights that anti-abortion foes who send mail bombs to doctors who perform abortions (Freedom of Expression?), who block entrance to the abortion clinics (Freedom to Assemble?) and who try and talk women out of going in for abortions (Freedom of Speech?).
They have the same rights as the animal lovers who have made the mink coat, once the symbol of womanhood, politically incorrect and who take pleasure in defacing private property by spray painting any natural hair coat they see.
They have the same right as that hostile group (Freedom to Assemble) I saw in 1969 who confronted me (Freedom of Express) and yelled at me (Freedom of Speech): “Nixon’s the one!”
Without the right to protest we’d still be British Subjects (remember that tea party we held on Boston Harbor?), without the right to assemble we’d have no Constitution (it was probably an act of treason against the King of England for the colonies to get together and draft that document), women would not have been given the right to vote (remember all those girls who took to the streets at the turn of the 19th century under the banner of suffrage?) and Martin Luther King would not have been allowed to bring his people to Washington, DC nor would there have ever been a “Million Man March.”
Many opposed the protesters during the Viet Nam era, but now many are starting to realize some, if not most, were totally correct and instrumental in ending a battle that raged for decades under both French and U.S. backing.
When they go too far, they can, will and are being arrested, but not as a group, as individuals who are destructive and violent to a point where they serve no cause good reason, but one or two rotten apples doesn’t make the whole barrel bad nor water down their words, expression or rights.
You may not like what any or all of these people have to say, but under the Constitution of the United States they have a right to assemble, say it and take whatever reasonable action that does not harm property or person to make their point.