“Do the Right Thing”. I always thought it would be so easy. Just do what’s right.
Except that life doesn’t seem to work that way.
Take the situation with Mr. Trump and the protesters at his rallies. On one hand, I strongly believe in the first amendment to our constitution. You know, that “Freedom of Speech” thing. I believe that the hallmark of a healthy, basically democratic nation is that everyone has a right to speak his mind.
I like to believe that as a “card carrying member of the ACLU”, I would grant everyone that right. I believe that the KKK has every right to assemble and to speak out. And of course, I believe that right minded people have every right to assemble in protest against the KKK.
I was very upset when the Occupy Wall Street camps were shut down and when protesters were kept away from the sidewalks in front of the banks and hedge fund offices. “Free Speech!”, I said.
So far, so good. “Do the Right Thing”. Let everyone speak his mind.
But then there is the old adage, “Your right to free speech ends at the tip of my nose.” Meaning, I guess, that you can speak up as long as you aren’t harming anyone with your speech or your actions.
And we have to remember that we are not allowed to say just anything we want. We can’t, they tell us, yell “Fire” in a crowded theater. That would be dangerous.
So what am I to think about the events at those Trump rallies?
First point: Trump and his minions have every right to speak their minds. They have the right to assemble.
But don’t those who oppose him also have the right to assemble in that place, to speak up against him?
Well, yes, of course they do!
Trump’s right to free speech, it seems to me, ends when he tells his people to physically hurt those who speak against him. “Beat the crap outta them. I’ll pay your legal bills.” That’s the “tip of my nose”phenomenon.
So his speech, when it is violent, SHOULD be shut down. The “Right Thing” would be to protest and assemble and to shut him down. Right?
But if those who protest against Trump’s hate speech yell threats, or carry out those threats, or throw punches, then they have give up their right to free speech in that place.
So. What is the “Right Thing”?
It isn’t as easy as it seems, is it?