Harassment of Counter-Protesters is Unacceptable
February 27, 2017
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The Round Table editorial staff stood proudly as we observed several hundred of our fellow classmates exercising their first amendment right to protest. The recent protest in response to President Trump’s appointment of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, organized by senior Jared Barrientos and sophomore Samantha Heller, garnered city-wide news coverage and social media attention. Among many impassioned students brandishing homemade signs against DeVos, several Trump supporters were dispersed throughout the crowd, respectfully presenting their contrary opinions. These few dissenters were eventually met with aggression and harassment from certain protesters, some of which was captured on camera (see the above video).
While The Round Table supports the protest of Betsy DeVos and the sentiments behind it, we do not condone the suppression of the freedom of speech and the freedom to protest among our peers. Our editorial staff was appalled to see “Make America Great Again” signs ripped down and students wearing Trump merchandise physically harassed.
The Round Table recognizes the value of there being multiple sides to every “story,” no matter the size or opinion of the dissenting minority. Without recognizing the importance of opposing viewpoints, journalistic credibility is compromised and constitutional principles are undermined. This is as much an issue at a national level as it is when it occurs in our school’s front driveway; we must acknowledge the rule of the majority cannot come without the rights of the minority.
We believe pro-Trump protesters deserve the same amount of respect as anti-Trump or anti-DeVos protestors do. The hostile and intolerant actions of certain protesters in limiting their counterparts’ first amendment freedoms overall detracts from the ideals they are trying to promote. How can liberal protesters advocate for love and acceptance if they themselves are bullying those who disagree with them?
We applaud the passion exhibited by all of the protestors and hope that positive examples of political activism continue. However, The Round Table editorial staff especially recognizes the effectiveness of using words to best appeal to the opposing side of an issue as opposed to harassment and the suppression of others’ opinions. We must remember that everyone has the right to protest. Everyone.