Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Who Hates the First Amendment More? Lefties or Righties?

This issue is one that we often hear, framed more in the way of a statement rather than a question, and one that has particular importance to me. The First Amendment is my favorite Amendment: I would put in on the list of the modern Wonders of the World; I would build a church devoted to it and become a member of First Amendmentism.

But far too often is this amendment limited.

Now, I framed this issue by way of a question rather than a statement, due to the fact that both sides have had some issues with it: graphic language in music, violence in movies and video games, etc. Both sides seem to agree that those are bad, for some reason, which I am sure I will rant about later. But, the question still remains: who hates it more?

In an attempt to answer this, I will offer some anecdotal evidence.

I recently moved back into college, an experience which I hope never again to tackle singlehandedly. Anyway, in the process, when going to pickup my computer from home, I encountered a large protest group gathered outside the offices of our state's senators. They had signs like "Leave My Healthcare Alone" and the infamous "Don't Tread on Me".

Opposite this group, on a matching patch of grass separated by a U-Turn route, were ten to fifteen other individuals, dressed up like the Monopoly Man.

So, seeing as how I have a hard time passing up opportunities such as this, I rushed over to the local Walgreens, which luckily was only five minutes away, picked up a large piece of poster-board and a permanent marker, and began to write my sign.

I quickly drove back to near where the protest was happening, parked in a slightly shady part of the neighborhood, and, literally, ran over.

Slightly out of breath, I crossed the road to the anti-reform camp, and asked politely, "Mind if I join you?"

"Come on in!" "Welcome!" "How's it going?" Quite a polite bunch.

I then faced the politicians' office and held up my sign:

"We have absolutely no idea what we're talking about."

I was standing in front of the majority of the protesters, so it took them a while to notice, by which I mean fifteen seconds. Soon, I was getting shoved, jeered, and had a woman attempt to cover my sign with her sign (luckily, she was only about 5' 2").

In response to these jeers, I quoted my right to "peacefully assemble", to which the little woman responded that her covering up my sign was doing the exact same thing.

I had not been standing there for more than thirty seconds before a man standing next to me called over the police who were standing nearby.

"Could you please make him move to the other side of the street?"


"Get a move on," the officer said. "Just follow the rules," the guy behind me said.

The rules? Separate but equal protesting? Why did I need to be separated from these people? I had no intention of getting violent, no means of becoming violent, and certainly no chance of success when outnumbered 150-1 with police standing nearby. Who was going to get violent?

I didn't "get a move on". I repeated my right provided to me by the First Amendment. I had no intention of getting violent, but I did intend on assembling. This is my favorite part.

While I was attempting to settle my disagreement with the police officer, one of the people standing behind me, a "righty", pushed me. He pushed me hard enough to send me stumbling into the street, not twenty yards away from an incoming vehicle.

Had that driver been sending a text message, or had I fallen completely, I could have died.

After dusting myself and watching the police officer send the man away from the protest, I joined the other counter-protesters across the street, who were dressed as millionaires in an ironic depiction of the opposition's view (to quote one of their signs, "I have my healthcare, I don't care if you do").

During my stint on this side of the street, a woman came over and told us how wrong our views were. We listened, disagreed, and provided our reasons. She stayed until she left of her own free will.

We had to be separated because our views would have resulted in violence against us. According to the police officer that I spoke to later, it was their only way of guaranteeing the peace.

During the Vietnam War, protesters gathered to express their opinion the violence and killings. These protesters were called un-American, were refused employment, were told to "love it or leave it". This was from the Right-Wing.

Does the left side of the aisle have its fair share of attempts to undermine freedom of speech? Yes. Have college students been bawdy at conservative speeches? Yes.

Have those conservative speakers still been allowed to speak? Yes. Were they pushed in front of cars? No. Were they called un-American? No. Were the told to "love it or leave it"? No.

I will not answer my own title question. I will simply submit my evidence. The answer should seem clear. If it doesn't, please voice it.

foolish out.

All The Foolish People

1 comment:

Amira Kristine said...

So bomb, Eth. I'm pretty proud of your innovation and, even more, your guts.

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