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Opinion: Limiting protests conflicts with American principles

Protesting+is+a+way+for+many+Americans+to+voice+their+opinions+about+the+government.+
Protesting is a way for many Americans to voice their opinions about the government.

Protesting is a way for many Americans to voice their opinions about the government.

By kellybdc [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By kellybdc [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Protesting is a way for many Americans to voice their opinions about the government.

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What’s more American than apple pie?

Protesting.

From the Boston Tea Party to boycotts of the Stamp Act, the United States was founded on the basis of protesting.

But this could change.

The National Park Service (NPS) is seeking to limit the scope of protests in front of the White House and the National Mall. The proposed restrictions include limiting spontaneous demonstrations without permits and reducing the sidewalk space from 25 feet to five feet, which is 80 percent of its size. Included in the proposal is the possibility to have those applying for permits to protest pay a fee to cover costs that are normally picked up by the federal government, such as increased police and sanitation, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

However, if the millions of people who visit the national mall each year aren’t being charged for the impact that their feet make on the grass or for their Starbucks cup left in the Lincoln Memorial, then why should those who choose to express their First Amendment right have to pay extra?

According to USA Today, the NPS wants to make sure it is using taxpayer dollars appropriately. But this isn’t about funding of public safety as much as it is about suppressing the voices of those who disagree with the decisions made by those who hold power, as President Donald Trump has long expressed disdain for those who disagree with him. However, putting institutional barriers in place to limit protests goes against the first amendment.

Additionally, while it may seem like the number of protests has increased recently, according to the ACLU the number of applications for demonstration permits has actually decreased in recent years.

When the founding fathers wrote in the Bill of Rights that Congress could not make a law prohibiting protests, they most likely never could have imagined historic demonstrations like Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington or The Women’s March. But the founding fathers did know the dangers of a government that punished them for protesting, which was one of the reasons that led them to create a new government in the first place.

According to The Atlantic, there isn’t any public evidence of the White House being involved in this, but based on past statements from President Trump about protestors, it doesn’t seem that they would be opposed to it either.

Stifling protest is a step taken by most aspiring authoritarians. Such rulers will argue that if one loves a country, then they should have no need to criticize their country.

I would disagree.

Someone can love a country yet still criticize it. In the case of protesting, people express their dissatisfaction with a situation because they believe that it can be fixed. They express their displeasure because they have hope for the future and because they know the power of the people is what will make the future better. 

While we have come a long way from the Boston Tea Party, today’s protestors are still after the same things the founding fathers were: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

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About the Writer
Nina Heller, Staff Writer

Nina Heller is a senior, and this is her third year on staff for Scot Scoop. She enjoys politics, spending time with her friends, and podcasts, as well...

1 Comment

One Response to “Opinion: Limiting protests conflicts with American principles”

  1. Julia Rhodie on October 25th, 2018 6:46 pm

    This article is SO good.

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Opinion: Limiting protests conflicts with American principles