We’ve seen the loud and angry tea-party protestors at recent town-hall meetings, who claim their rights to free speech. And on this, I stand with them even if I might not entirely agree with them. They have a right to speak their minds and to let their representatives in Congress know how they feel as long as they don’t deny anyone else those same rights!
But, what some are doing now goes beyond their right to express themselves. Protestors at a town hall in Florida escalated their protest to the point of violence, suppressing anyone else from speaking and thereby stopping the discussion on the important topic of health care.
Open discussion and debate – including lively debate – is one thing. That is part of our right to speak freely. But threatening physical violence and/ or shouting down the member of Congress before he or she even opens their mouth is not freedom of expression. It’s suppression.
People come to town-hall meetings, taking time out of their busy days, to obtain information and to ask questions directly of their representatives in Washington. When angry groups disrupt those proceedings, before they even start, by “pushing and shoving,” according to CNN, the people attending, we have to realize that this is neither their right of protest nor free speech.
These groups infiltrate these meetings to prevent the rest of us from getting the questions we have answered, and from having a chance to carefully size up this health-care issue for ourselves.
When our members of Congress are now cancelling vital meetings with their constituents because of threatened violence, we’ve got to ask ourselves whose money and influence is really behind these supposed protestors?