The First Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted December 15, 1971. It reads, verbatim: 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.
More than 70 people were arrested this week after heckling senators and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh at a confirmation hearing.
President Trump responded in an interview with the Daily Caller. "I think it's embarrassing for the country to allow protesters." He added “In the old days we used to throw them out. Today, I guess they just keep screaming."
Thankfully, it is our right to keep screaming. That protection is guaranteed to us by the aforementioned amendment. The freedoms to protest, to peaceably assemble, and petition our government are pillars of our democratic republic and have been, for as long as America has existed.
In 1773, patriots tossed tea into Boston Harbor. They weren't protesting tea; they loved the stuff! The colonists were fighting for a say in British Parliament. No taxation without representation. Three years later, the United States declared independence.
In 1936, autoworkers in Flint, Michigan sat down on the job. They weren't protesting standing; they were striking for fair labor laws. After a 44 day strike, General Motors bargained with the union, paving the way for many of the rights we expect at our jobs today.
In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus, prompting a 381 day boycott of public buses in Montgomery, Alabama. She was not protesting the transportation system. She was taking a stand against unfair segregation. Nearly a decade later, those laws were erased.
Protest leads to change. History smiles upon the examples above. Those brave souls who risked everything are remembered as heroes. Modern protests can take all sorts of forms; I choose not to spend money at businesses whose practices I don't agree with. Plenty of people gather for rallies and marches, and some take a knee during the national anthem. The method of protest does not need to be indicative of the issue being protested.
Our Constitution does not force you to agree with the reasons why your fellow Americans are protesting, that's one of the beautiful things about freedom. But if you believe you are entitled to the same inalienable rights, you ought to respect their right to fight for the causes they believe in.