Monday, March 21, 2016

Only One Moral Response To "Stop Trump" -- Stand With Trump.

Would that everyone could and would do as Tuscon police officer Brandon Tatum, and attend a Donald Trump rally for himself or herself. A little more due diligence on the part of the voting public might shift the narrative dramatically. If Brandon Tatum's observations are in line with behavior of rally attendees and rally protesters overall, the measure of responsibility Trump must bear for violence at his rallies must decline if not disappear.

Consider first the legal framework: 

Donald Trump rents a facility in which to hold a rally. He coordinates the security measures with the local police, and does all of the other tasks associated with holding an event. While the event may be "open to the public," as most rallies are, it is still very much the affair of a private citizen. Donald Trump is well within his legal rights to call for the ejection of anyone breaching the peace even in protest; indeed all political candidates have that right. 

There is no legal right for protesters to breach the peace at any rally; there is no moral right for protesters to breach the peace at any rally. A person's right of free speech is always bounded by the dividing line between public and private spaces. The right of free speech does not extend into entering a political opponent's rally and disrupting the proceedings; such conduct is a breach of the peace, a breach of decorum, a breach of common decency. It is wrong, at every level.

There is no right for protesters to engage in acts of violence. None. It does not exist. Obviously there is no right for rally attendees to engage in acts of violence. None. It does not exist.

The other part of the First Amendment is the right to peaceably assemble.

Against this backdrop we have the report of Brandon Tatum. We have a report of protesters using obscene gestures in front of rally attendees. We have a report of protesters hurling insults, obscenities, and a sordid array of vulgarities at rally attendees.

I will note that I have not attended a Donald Trump rally myself. I merely have the word of Brandon Tatum, and the reports in the news media covering Trump's rallies. Still, I take note of what is not being reported regarding Trump's rallies:

  • There have been no reports of people leaving Trump rallies and physically or verbally attacking people.
  • There have been no reports of Donald Trump suggesting either explicitly or implicitly that people initiate acts of violence.

Imagine, if you will, that the setting was not some political rally but your own living room. How much of such behavior would you be willing to tolerate from guests in your house? What level of force--which is to say what level of "violence"--would you be prepared to use to remove guests who indulge in such behavior from your house? What level of force--which is to say what level of "violence"--should you be allowed to use to remove such guests?

If people disagree with Donald Trump, or take issue with his choice of words, then they should protest. That is not only their right but their duty as engaged, involved, citizens of this republic. Such protest should be celebrated and respected even by those who disagree with it. That is the "American way", that is how civil discourse should be.

But the Trump protesters are shouting nothing but hatred, spewing nothing but filth. They are the very thing Trump stands accused of being--violent, even fascist, demagogues. That deserves not celebration but contempt, merits not respect but ridicule.

If I were not already a Trump supporter, opposition to such malignancies would demand I become one. There is but one moral response to those wishing to "Stop Trump" -- stand with Trump.