Friday, June 3, 2016

The right of the people peaceably to assemble

The one and only story of the 2016 Presidential campaign is Donald Trump. Other stories like a presumptive nominee, Mrs. William J. Clinton, being under investigation while leading the race to be the Democrat nominee or an avowed Socialist receiving millions of votes for the Democrat nomination and dogging the front runner, get almost no play. Mostly that is because the media is completely and openly sold out on Hillary with the mantra that "it is time for a woman to be President", no matter how crooked and incompetent that woman might be. It is also because Trump is such a polarizing figure, a human flashpoint that draws attention like a neon billboard. Regardless of his general unsuitability, Trump is going to be the Republican nominee. It is really surreal to even type that. Anyway, Trump is drawing angry anti-Trump protestors like rotting meat attracts maggots. The narrative is that he is just so mean and hateful that people want to make their voices heard. The reality is quite different. This was the report from a recent rally held by Trump in San Jose, California:

A group of protesters attacked Donald Trump supporters who were leaving the candidate's rally in San Jose on Thursday night. A dozen or more people were punched, at least one person was pelted with an egg and Trump hats grabbed from supporters were set on fire on the ground.

Police stood their ground at first but after about 90 minutes moved into the remaining crowd to break it up and make arrests. At least four people were taken into custody, though police didn't release total arrest figures Thursday night. One officer was assaulted, police Sgt. Enrique Garcia said.
There were no immediate reports of injuries and no major property damage, police said.

The crowd, which had numbered over 300 just after the rally, had thinned significantly but those that remained, filling about a city block near the San Jose Convention Center, were rowdy and angry.

Some banged on the cars of Trump supporters as they left the rally and chased after those on foot to frighten them.

Look at what is going on. Physical intimidation, assault and battery, general criminal activity. This is not a spontaneous event, these people were lying in wait with the intent to cause mischief (unless you think people are just strolling around San Jose at night with a bag of eggs). These people are reacting with violence to one of our most critical and fundamental rights. Of course the city government was on the ball advocating for free speech (emphasis mine):

"Our police officers have done an extremely courageous and professional job so far," San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo told The Associated Press by phone. "We're all still holding our breath to see the outcome of this dangerous and explosive situation."

The mayor, a Democrat and Hillary Clinton supporter, criticized Trump for coming to cities and igniting problems that local police departments had to deal with.

"At some point Donald Trump needs to take responsibility for the irresponsible behavior of his campaign," Liccardo said.

Huh? Trump holds a political rally, the very epitome of the First Amendment at work, and those attending this rally are assaulted and intimidated by criminals as they left and Trump is the one who needs to "take responsibility for the irresponsible behavior of his campaign". What irresponsible behavior is the mayor talking about, holding a campaign rally during a Presidential campaign? The horror! I guess the good mayor would prefer that Trump go into seclusion and only Hillary Clinton be permitted to hold rallies where she screeches and hectors the American people. Then there is this gem which really summarizes this whole fiasco:

Nearly an hour after the Trump rally ended, police brought out a megaphone and told the demonstrators to leave or face arrest. 

According to a tweet from NBC News' Jacob Rascon, one protester yelled back, "we don't follow the law." 

Ladies and gentlemen, there you have it. Why it took this long to threaten to arrest people is ridiculous. The first punch thrown by one of these thugs should have resulted in cuffs. You can be sure that if it were Trump supporters at a Hillary or Bernie rally in San Jose causing any trouble at all and they would be given the cuffs, nightsticks and pepper spray.

I tweeted this morning:

We are bombarded with the message that Trump supporters are the dangerous ones but while I vehemently disagree with their choice of candidate, I also know a lot of people who support him and by and large they are regular people, disenchanted and fed up with the system no doubt, and certainly with some cause, but regular people with jobs and families who are looking for someone who fights for them. These "protesters"? They are not principled people expressing a different viewpoint. They are fascist thugs, the tools of the advocates of authoritarianism. When people are lurking outside of a political rally, the very epitome of free expression, free speech and freedom of assembly, with the intent to assault those inside to frighten and intimidate them to keep them from exercising their rights, they are criminals no different from people lurking around looking for a purse to snatch. I am not sure what these petty criminals and schoolyard bully wannabees are hoping to accomplish but I doubt very much that Trump supporters are dissuaded by this sort of behavior, and quite the opposite it would seem they are probably even more persuaded of the need for someone like Trump. For people who are decent, law abiding people that may not support Trump, seeing gangs of fascists attacking people trying to exercise their First Amendment rights is doing nothing to generate sympathy for their "cause", whatever that might be, and puts people in the position of seeing Trump and his supporters as the sympathetic party.

These are not protests intended to provide a refutation for and/or an alternative to a political philosophy or policy proposal. These are organized and funded riots that are designed to shut down free expression, not just the expression of an idea some find distasteful but the assault on even holding to personally held beliefs that stray from the politically permissible party line. If Trump supporters can be attacked at will, what is next? How long until someone gets seriously hurt or even killed by these thugs and what will be done about it? Where is the President of the United States speaking out against this sort of lawless behavior? 

If I were a suspicious person I would wonder if Trump or his backers are secretly funding these protests because they do a lot more to bolster what Trump is saying than refuting it. If I am going to place my sympathies with people who are attending a political rally, no matter ho juvenile and ill-considered on one hand or with fascist thugs who are doing all they can, including mob actions and violence, to shut down free speech on the other, I find myself firmly on the side of those attending the rally. There is no prohibition on being wrong in our political process but there are plenty of laws being broken by the "protesters".

Our political system is based on the marketplace of ideas and this system is protected by some of the most firm language in our Constitution:

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.

I have often said that there is a reason the First Amendment is first, primarily because it is enshrines the principles of freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, a free press and, often overlooked, the right of the people to seek redress from their government. In other words, without the First Amendment our Republic does not work and I would argue cannot survive, at least not in any form recognizable by anyone familiar with our Constitution. Of course the reason the First Amendment is followed by the Second is that without some teeth the First Amendment can be held hostage to criminals malcontents like the animals attacking people outside of the Trump rally.

Read this description of the Sturmabteilung or "brown shirts", the shock troops of the Nazi party:

The Sturmabteilung functioned as the original paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party (NSDAP).

It played a significant role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s. Their primary purposes were providing protection for Nazi rallies and assemblies, disrupting the meetings of opposing parties, fighting against the paramilitary units of the opposing parties, especially the Red Front Fighters League (Rotfrontkämpferbund) of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), and intimidating Slavic and Romani citizens, unionists, and Jews – for instance, during the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses.

Who does that description better fit, peaceful attendees at a political rally or violent criminals seeking to disrupt and intimidate? These thugs are organized and funded by a cabal of leftist organizations bent on keeping anyone from daring to think for themselves, even when their conclusions are wrong.

Free speech is free for all or it is not free at all. We the people cannot stand by while this sort of behavior is permitted by the police and encouraged and excused by the mayor of a city with a million people living there. Supporters of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are fueled by ignorance and resentment but I will defend their right to gather and listen to the nonsense spewed by those two.  Whatever you say about Trump and his supporters, when it comes to outrages like the one in San Jose and elsewhere they are firmly on the side of what it means to be American.
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