Hundreds of protesters showed up at a Trump rally in Chicago on Friday, forcing the Republican presidential candidate to postpone the rally after a number of violent scuffles broke out in the crowd.
The incident sparked passionate reactions on both sides. Many people are praising the demonstrators for taking a stand against the racist, bigoted rhetoric that has helped propel Trump to the front of the GOP presidential field, but some (read: Trump fans) accuse the protestors of robbing the Donald and his supporters of their First Amendment right to free speech.
— Jeremy Diamond (@JDiamond1) March 12, 2016
Here’s the thing: the First Amendment is not some magical carte blanche that protects you from the consequences of saying ignorant things in public. I’m going to put this next sentence in bold because it bears repeating. The First Amendment only protects you from being silenced by the government.
If the City of Chicago or some other government entity had prevented Trump from speaking, that definitely would have qualified as a violation of free speech. But that’s not what happened.
Instead, the rally was shut down by hundreds of protestors determined to show Trump what they thought of his intolerant and divisive positions. Protestors who, ironically, were actually exercising their First Amendment rights by protesting the event.
If you’re interested, you can read the full text of the First Amendment below.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.