Trumping Freedom of Speech
By Glenn Mollette
Whether you like Donald Trump or not doesn’t give you the right to obstruct his right to free speech. The Chicago mob that shut down Donald Trump’s campaign speech last week should have been put in jail. Trump’s campaign was hosting the rally. This was Trump’s party. Your right to free speech does not Trump someone else’s right to free speech.
Ronald Reagan’s most famous line may be, “I am paying for this microphone Mr. Green.” The statement was made in Nassau, New Hampshire leading up to that state’s primary. Reagan was trying to explain to the crowd why the debate was being delayed when the Nassau Telegraph newspaper editor told the soundman to turn off Reagan’s microphone. Only he and George H.W. Bush had been invited to debate but Reagan thought that was unfair not to include the other candidates and insisted that Bob Dole and the others running at the time be on the platform. Dole had previously complained to the Federal Election Commission about the debate stating the Telegraph was making an unfair campaign contribution to the Bush and Reagan campaigns. The Commission agreed and hence Reagan’s campaign agreed to foot the bill. The Nassau Telegraph newspaper editor whose name was Jon Bren and not Green asked that Reagan’s microphone be turned off when Reagan began to say something. Reagan responded with the famous statement.
When Lyndon Johnson paraded through Inez, Kentucky in 1964 nobody dreamed of trying to yell down the President. I was there. When Barack Obama came to Indiana I stood in line for three hours to hear the Senator speak to almost 13,000 people. Everyone was courteous. No one yelled out or tried to interrupt Obama. My son and I went to hear Hillary Clinton a few years back. We went down and shook hands with her. No one tried to disrupt her speech. In each scenario it was Johnson’s, Obama’s or Clinton’s party, people were invited to listen and not to make buffoons of themselves.
If you have something to say free speech gives you the permission to say it. Rent your own convention space. Announce you have something to say and then stand up and say it. Have a party at your house, subdivision or stand in front of your courthouse or state house and say what you want to say. People should listen without interrupting you if they are interested in what you want to say.
Freedom of speech does not mean forgoing all civility. If you are having a hamburger party in your backyard and want to espouse all your reasons for smoking Cuban cigars then so be it. You don’t expect people to show up and shout you down.
There are many ways to foster your first Amendment right. However, trying to Trump someone else’s speech with your speech is out of line especially when that person is paying for the microphone.