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Peaceful Protesting

I recently drove by a small town courthouse located by the Sangre De Cristo Mountains. Two opposing groups were protesting. No one had raised fists. No one was yelling. No one was name calling. A police presence was not required. The two factions stood a number of feet away from each other holding simply written signs conveying their views.

LAWS. The right to protest is protected by the U.S. Constitution. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble.”

I believe in peaceful protesting. People have a right in the U.S. to express their views and to peaceably gather. People, however, do not have the right to protest in a fashion that brings harm to others or property.

When I was in my 20’s, I attended what I thought was a peaceful protest. I felt strongly about the issue involved. I showed up in comfortable clothing and shoes. I wanted to participate for the duration of the assembly. My handmade sign written in bold letters conveyed my thoughts.

I only lasted about an hour. People who shared my point of view, were yelling, demeaning, and badgering the opposing side. What I considered to be hateful words did not represent in my mind peaceful protesting.

I care for others who disagree with me. I value the opinions of others even if they are different than mine. I have no tolerance for hate filled speech or the demeaning of others. I want no part in irreverence toward the people God created.

In my experience, treating others harshly and with disrespect does not create an environment for discussion. Hate-filled speech often promotes violence. I am not a pacifist, there are times when violence is required. I respect the men and women who protect our American values. Violence is a defense against injustices and the harming of the innocent. It is not, however, according to the U.S. Constitution, part of protesting.

I have purposely not included the reason for my thirty-five plus years ago protest. I am not ashamed of my views but regarding the delicate issued surrounding my stand, I would prefer to talk face-to-face.

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