Discussion: Free Speech and Trump Rallies

nowMoveOn and Black Lives Matter organized a Trump rally protest that led to fist fights in the streets of Chicago, with five arrested and two officers injured.

We’ve seen thuggery at Trump events before but this is a new level of mayhem. One attendee says via Reddit:

  • An Asian gentlemen with his wife and young daughter were harassed. The 3 protestors, all adult males, yelled racial slurs at the father, and called the 9ish year old girl vulgar terms I will not repeat. The protestors had “BLM” spray painted on their hoodies.
  • A woman with Bernie attire chased me, mocked me for my clothing. She then grabbed my arms, but quickly stopped when I informed her that I was off duty LEO.
  • Inside the pavilion, immediately after the announcement of cancellation, the protestors swarmed supporters. It erupted into complete chaos. A black man and his young son, who had waited for several hours, were harassed and called “uncle Tom”
  • There was a large police presence, but it seemed like they had their hands tied behind their backs and did very little to protect the Trump supporters from the violence.

I consider Trump’s remarks to be highly inciting. In my view, his call to “punch protesters in the face” to a hyped up crowd containing a minority of protesters is potentially criminal.

At the same time, bringing violence to an otherwise peaceful political event goes against the principles of free speech. MoveOn must have been aware of the high incidence of violence at BLM protests, and of the attitudes of many racist Trump supporters. This was clearly intended to be a major disruption of the event.

MoveOn endorsee Sanders had this to say on Twitter afterward: “We will not allow the Donald Trumps of the world to divide us up.”

So my question to you is, if a candidate’s views are intolerable or even dangerous, is it ethical to outright sabotage his events, or is it still our duty to defend the rights of citizens to peacefully assemble and exercise free speech?


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Jay is Editor In Chief of The Agonist, veteran and technologist.

12 CommentsLeave a comment

    • Trump is tapping the Anger which exist in the population. Anger exacerbated by years of deceit from our political class, bought and paid for and not responsive to their constituents.

      Actions speak louder than words. Hope and Change followed by doubling down on previous policy increases the degree of anger or increasing impoverishment. Hilary is the embodiment of those policies, which she appears to project into the future.

      The words in the tweet offer nothing concrete to address the Anger’s root causes. Not even an acknowledgement of root cause of the anger.

      As an aside:

      There was a large police presence, but it seemed like they had their hands tied behind their backs and did very little to protect the Trump supporters from the violence.

      False flag, perhaps?

  • From Reuters:

    National unions nearly always endorse Democratic presidential candidates but Trump has built his insurgent campaign in part on a mission that many unions share: scrapping international trade deals.

    There are some signs Trump’s message is resonating beyond the 20 to 30 percent of rank-and-file union members that vote Republican, attracting political independents and even some frustrated Democrats.

    My prediction: If Hillary does not step up to the trade treaty issue, she will loose to Trump. Where is Hillary on this issue? Incoherent or Triangulating or Lying?

  • Hillary came out against the final version of the TPP.

    Labor unions that support Hillary:

    AFGE – American Federation of Government Employees, representing 301,992
    AFSCME – American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, representing 1.3 million
    AFT – American Federation of Teachers, representing 1.6 million
    AWIU – International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, representing 30,000
    BAC – International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, representing 76,233
    IAM – International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, representing 570,423
    IATSE- International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, representing 125,000
    ILA – International Longshoremen’s Association, representing 65,000
    IUOE – International Union of Operating Engineers, representing 374,521
    IUPAT – International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, representing 103,858]
    IW – International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers, representing 123,906
    LIUNA – Laborers’ International Union of North America, representing 557,999
    NABTU – North America’s Building Trades, representing 3 million
    NEA – National Education Association, representing 3 million
    NTEU National Treasury Employees Union, representing 150,000
    OPCMIA – Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ International Association, representing 39,000
    OPEIU – Office and Professional Employees International Union, representing 101,895
    SEIU – Service Employees International Union, representing 1,893,775
    SIU – Seafarers International Union of North America, representing 35,498
    SMART – International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, representing 150,000
    UA – United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing, Pipefitting and Sprinkler Fitting Industry of the U.S. and Canada, representing 329,954
    UBC – The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, representing 520,000
    UFCW – United Food and Commercial Workers Union, representing 1,724,156
    UFW – United Farm Workers, representing 10,248
    UURWAW – United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers, representing 22,000

    National unions supporting Sanders:

    APWU – American Postal Workers Union, representing 250,000
    CWA – Communication Workers of America, representing 700,000
    NNU – National Nurses United, representing 185,000
    NUHW – National Union of Healthcare Workers, representing 11,000
    UE – United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, representing 35,900

    Trump union enorsements: Zero.

    He had the newspaper “New Hampshire Union Leader” but the endorsement was later rescinded.

  • ” …is it still our duty to defend the rights of citizens to peacefully assemble and exercise free speech?”

    Freedom of speech does not seem to extend to protesters at a Trump event and ‘peacefully’ certainly does not describe the reaction of Trump’s supporters to the protesters. Trump himself actively encourages his supporters to commit violence.

    Funny thing, that. Fighting is okay but fighting back isn’t.
    Fuck Donald Trump and the horses’ asses he rode in on.

    But that’s just my opinion.

      • Well, the 1st Amendment prevents the government from shutting you up (barring military secrets and such. Or simply ignoring the Constitution).

        The 1st Amendment doesn’t mean you can’t be shut up or punished by your boss, your spouse or the big burly guy on the next barstool.

        For Trumpees to oppose anti-Trumpers is an issue of laws re riots, public disorder, assault, etc. For Donald to urge his fans to attack protesters and offer to pay any legal consequences is inciting violence in my book.

  • To paraphrase Barry Goldwater; the unwillingness to tolerate intolerance is not a vice but a virtue. And the disruption of one of Trump’s hate parties is not just cause for violent assault.

  • The Archdruid Report has an interesting post today.
    Conventional Wisdom is that the dumbing down of the electorate and the virulent bigotry which dominates our political conversation is largely a deliberate product of right-wing efforts. He makes the point that the Left is equally responsible if not more so. A very thought-provoking post, worth reading and contemplating.

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