Free Speech

On Friday, March 11, protesters arrived at the Donald Trump campaign rally - a rally that ultimately never happened. What followed was a media frenzy; coverage of the people outside of the University of Illinois Pavilion was on every channel. And the footage of an African American man and a white American was replayed over and over again. Even at times when the conversation was about what occurred outside of the pavilion, the footage of the two men fist fighting was being shown.

There was a lot of discussion on freedom of speech that evening. Trump supporters declared that they had a right to hear what Donald Trump had to say - as well as that Donald Trump had a right to say it. The rhetoric greatly leaned toward the idea that protestors had in fact impeded the first amendment right of Trump and his supports. Some commenters even called the protest "anarchy" and a riot.

But what were the people of Chicago trying to accomplish with their protest? What was the purpose? Some of the people being interviewed didn't want to say why they were there, but many others stated that they were tired of the rhetoric and symbol that Trump stood for. The general sentiment boiled down to this: the people of Chicago felt that Donald Trump had had a chance to say what he wanted to say, and people didn't want to listen anymore. So what happens when protests "stop" someone from rallying? Are protestors blocking the rights of Trump supporters and Trump himself? Or was it instead a manifestation of a population that was tired, angry, and indignant? Throughout history, the United States has supported manifestations that could be considered against freedom of speech, as long as they generally benefited the country. Historically, when a population becomes angered, and tired, it manifests. This has led to protests for multitudes of causes - from civil rights to the environment. Countries have even dethroned monarchies and governments.

People's movements are not new. But the anger and fear that has been fueled for the past year in America has led many to wonder in what direction the country is headed. For many, Trump for president means America's eminent end. For others, Trump is the promise of a "better America".

Was the protest an act against someone's freedom of speech? Should Trump be let speak, regardless of how many disagree? The fine line between freedom of speech is remarkably muddled. Especially when many people perceive that what someone is saying is harmful or wrong. But in the United States, the right to protest is also true. This was a time when both rights clashed, and thus sparked the conversation. Ultimately, what is true is that when people feel threatened by the words of a person or a group of people, it is inevitable that a clash should erupt - even if the clash is, for the most part, a peaceful one. What decides the outcome of these elections, however, will be not just the people who go out to protest, but the people who go out to vote.