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March 26, 2018

Itís perfectly fine to protest

Jason Miller

An engaged public clamoring for the latest political cause de jour is a truly American experience. Sure, it can be loud and messy, and, at times, hurtful and crass.

 

The Freedom of Speech Amendment in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights is considered universal by those on the left, in the middle and on the right. This sacred text lends itself to securing the right of speech at both its ugliest and most splendid forms.

 

In the United States, the way Americans protest is traditionally open for all to see. That is a noble concept to many. There are no safe spaces at public protests nor should there be. I respect all protesters, though I might not agree with what they are protesting. An active protester on either side of an issue is attempting to be the difference they want to see.

 

There is though, a difference; between an activist and a public protester. An activist seems like a fair-weather protester who generally goes to where the media cameras are. Activists also have conditions to their participation as well. Those activists, who generally wear masks, tend to be where the most trouble can be stirred up. They don’t hold signs but rather clubs or bricks.

 

Some activists are anonymous, and yet still seek out protests as opportunists. For many activists, protesting has become, in large part, a personal start up business. They show up to protests and sell T-Shirts, Slogan-based political stickers, themed handbags, and hats of all shapes. They shamelessly promote themselves on social media on how they personally embody your core values.

 

The sales hook is that you (the concerned citizen) don’t have time to travel the nation protesting. You have a family and a job. You can, however; financially support activists or the group. Giving financial support ensures that your voice is heard at every rally and protest the activists attends. Rest easy that the other side will not get away with spreading their message of intolerance or hate.

 

These activists adjust their donation pitches as the news media coverage changes. One day they will be a pitching a fit on one issue and the next day another issue. Donors need to pay extra for consistent opinions, I guess.

 

A professional activist should never be compared to a patriotic protester. Yes, I said it. Most protesters are generally patriotic citizens no matter what side they fall on an issue. It’s why they protest in full view of everyone. Its protected speech that we often take for granted. That’s the difference between an activist and a protester. Protesters want to speak, and activists want to silence. Beware of those crafty activists who have privatized an issue for personal fame or fortune.

 

A protester, unlike an activist, will share their beliefs with the public without asking the public to read it in a self-promoting book they can buy from an old Army backpack littered with black and red Castro likenesses. A protester knows that protesting is its own reward because expressing their beliefs is simply the right thing to do.

 

Protesting is not unpatriotic. It doesn’t matter what side you’re on. Protesters wouldn’t care enough to protest if they were unpatriotic. Many protesters on both the right and left are extremely patriotic citizens. They are motivated by their opinions and are unafraid to have their faces counted as citizens voicing their opinion as part of a discussion. If one disagrees with them, it doesn’t mean they don’t love their country. It means that they are members of the loyal opposition. That’s a term we seldom hear in our media today but need to hear.

 

We need to be reminded that, as a nation, it is okay to disagree with each other. What happens after that is a big round table where both sides sit down and behave as the loyal opposition as they hash out the issue. While sitting at the table, after the air of tension dies down and the untrusting eyes of both groups begin to see a people instead of a monster across from them; the real work can and normally does begin.

 

This opportunity for real work is a chance granted to all Americans as a birthright from our nation’s founders. It’s the ability to discuss any political cause de jour officially and without fear of prison, or begging pardon, or loss of job if conducted outside of work. All of us in some political way, shape, or form are the loyal opposition to someone somewhere.

 

A protest is perfectly fine so long as it’s done in a safe and respectful way.

 



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