Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Shouting is not free speech

It seems more and more demonstrators for whatever cause claim they are exercising their free speech rights.  Are they exercising free speech or freedom to disrupt?

Is it “free speech” to shout down a speaker?  By doing so, isn’t a shouter impinging on the speakers right of free speech?  Is it free speech to demonstrate outside a building in such large numbers that others can’t exercise their freedom to come and go as they please.

Some supporters of Bernie Sanders threaten to disrupt the Democratic National Convention.  As far as I know, Sanders has not yet disavowed these supporters.

Similarly, Trump supporters have disrupted other meetings.  Or anti-Trump supporters have tried to disrupt his meetings.

Consider that vocal opposition can arouse to unknown actions those you oppose.

Here is a better protest.  Silence.  Get a seat or a place to stand at a meeting of a politician you disagree with.  Then do nothing.  Don’t applaud.  Don’t boo.  Don’t cheer.  However, do stand for the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner or the Pledge of Allegiance.  You don’t want to be called unpatriotic.  You don’t have to sing or recite.  Lots of supporters do likewise.

You may be alone, but you are not yourself supporting or disrupting the speaker.  If you can get a couple dozen friends to join you, you have multiplied the silence.  If your action catches on, it could happen that a politician encounters a very quiet audience.  Nothing can be more disconcerting to a politician than silence.

See also "Free opinion vs. free speech",