Freedom of speech has been a cornerstone of this country since it was written in the constitution in 1787. It is the first law in this countries history, and will be enforced as long as the United States exists. However, just because someone has a right to say something doesn’t mean that they necessarily should say it. In today’s society, especially with the growth of social media platforms, people have grown accustom to saying anything that they please and not having to deal with the instant backlash of talking to someone in person. This has been the problem with many protest in the past years such as the Westboro funeral protests. However, just because some do not go to plan a good amount of them do continue out in the best manor. This can be seen through the peaceful presentations recently on the Trump thank you tour. In the past years free speech has led to a mix of protests such as the critical Westboro protest and the conservative Trump protests, just because a few bad protests appear does not mean they are an improper use of free speech.
Freedom of speech can be interpreted and taken many ways depending on how it is presented and who the audience is. In the early part of this decade one of the more questionable protests began to take place among the armed services and a small church in Kansas. These churches protests took place outside of various soldiers funerals protesting Americas support of gay marriage. The groups target these funerals saying the soldiers death are part of Gods wraith for our sins (“Yes”). This opens the door for all the complaints of how protests might be taken just a little far. Many people through these debates have referred to these protests as “verbal assault” (Mears). The door is then opened to interpretation on whether or not this is an appropriate assumption or if people are being to sensitive to the protests. Many of the families have taken legal action suing these people for punitive damages, saying that it caused emotional distress and invasive of their privacy (Mears). After the making it through many courts, including the court of appeals, the supreme court finalized their decision and agreed that these protests were considered constitutional (Mears). Even though these protests are considered constitutional does not mean that these are the right ways to use a persons right to free speech. People have began to urge to look back over these cases and to begin to question whether there should be more strict limits on using these protests.
Though some protest can get controversial, most are not carried this way and are mostly peace protests in which ideas are expressed with no intent on causing people distress. At the Trump thank you tour a number of protest have taken place as a result of him being elected. These protests have had great results, since they have rarely had any violence and still continue to happen with little violence. In Ohio, a state in which Trump had won, the protesters have continued to protest right next to the Trump supporters with little to none retaliation by either group (Landers). This could be contributed to the help of the police forces making sure each group is in check and making sure most of the people do not intermingle with each other. The difference in this debate is the fact of people admitting we are all Americans at the end of the day (Landers). This had led to most of the protests being able to admit that there are differences to work together to fix and that everyone is there to voice their own separate opinions.
Protests have been around for a long time and have been hostile and peaceful at different times and places. Could there be a way to eliminate the grievances people have towards a specific topic in a more conservative way. Research coming out from the Sociology department of North Carolina say there are a couple ways to do it. This goes along with the results that University of Missouri had thought about during the protests concerning professors at the college campus. North Carolina begins by defining what the demographics are when deciding who is protesting and for what reasons. They began to look into racial, economic, and age in which people protest. The study defines a protester as a person who is not pleased with the current situation at hand and they express there grievances (McVeigh). The data then splits the people and shows how each group would be able to get involved in institutionalized politics and how them getting involved will help people change politics with hands on action (McVeigh). Another way to move apart from protesting is adding safe zones, which will give people place to get rid of the grievances in a more constructive way. Protests at Missouri broke out as people had began to be upset about voicing their opinions on a teacher who had being teaching at the university. As protests had turned out not to work the safe zones opened in which kids could now express their problems and problems began to resolve much faster (Gay).
All in all, protests have been a way in which people can express their opinions in an open and public environment for many decades. Controversy have began to come up from all of the negative effects coming from certain protests that turn violent or cause emotional distress, like the Westboro church protests. But are these negative protest enough to start turning people away from protest in a search for a better way to achieve our goals. Free speech in our current days has lead to many negative protests in our society today and there needs to be a more effective way to achieve counters to our grievances.
Gay, Roxane. “The Seduction of Safety.” New York Times, 15 Nov. 2015, p. 1(L). Academic OneFile, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=tel_a_utl&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CA434558348&it=r&asid=69f0305b6f8c9a5aa14822612ad687d4. Accessed 5 Dec. 2016.
Hulsey, Emily. “These 15 Westboro Baptist Church signs are Proof that Stupid can’t be Fixed.” Independent Journal Review, 7 Dec. 2013. http://ijr.com/2014/03/100517-15-absurd-photos-westboro-baptist-church-members-speak/
Landers, Elizabeth. “Protesters outside Trump’s first thank you rally: ‘I will not stand for you’.” CNN, 2 Dec. 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/02/politics/donald-trump-rally-protest/
Mears, Bill. “Anti-gay church’s right to protest at military funerals is upheld.” CNN, 2 Mar. 2011, http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/03/02/scotus.westboro.church/
McVeigh, Rory, and Christian Smith. “Who Protests in America: An Analysis of Three Political Alternatives–Inaction, Institutionalized Politics, or Protest.” Sociological Forum, vol. 14, no. 4, 1999, pp. 685–702. http://www.jstor.org/stable/685079.
Singhvi, Anjali. “Scenes From Five Days of Anti-Trump Protests Across a Divided Nation.” New York Times, 18 Nov. 2016 http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/11/12/us/elections/photographs-from-anti-trump-protests.html?_r=0
Yes, even hateful funeral protests are free speech.” USA Today, 3 Mar. 2011, p. 08A. Academic OneFile, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=tel_a_utl&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CA250533977&it=r&asid=76f6cb14a7444d403514328f6e018804. Accessed 5 Dec. 2016.