Opinion: Don’t silence dissent

Bobbie Szabo

Protests have erupted around the country in the wake of the 2016 election.

Although some of the demonstrations focus specifically on finding unity and solidarity among marginalized people, the majority of protests have one very important aspect in common: they disapprove of our President-elect, Donald Trump, and his problematic social policies.

Reactions to the protests have been varied. While some people have supported the protests and the reasoning behind them, others have admonished protesters and labeled them “crybabies.” People upset with the election have repeatedly been told to “get over it,” and that “there is nothing we can do about it now.”

Many of these same people are asking for unity among people and for Clinton’s supporters to be empathetic to Trump’s following.

What they do not realize is that by trivializing peoples’ concerns about a Trump presidency, they themselves are being insensitive. They are not showing the kindness they are asking others to exhibit.

Another issue with what these people are saying is the blatant lack of respect for the First Amendment. For people so wired about a candidate who promises to respect the U.S. Constitution the way it was originally written, they certainly do not seem to care about either the First or 14th Amendments — but who cares about those when another politician might threaten guns?

One of the most important aspects of a democracy is the right to have dissenting and opposing opinions and platforms. The beauty of a democracy is having the ability to protest what you do not agree with.

The most important aspect of a democracy is the voice of the people, and the people are determined to be heard. We are legally allowed to assemble, to petition, to protest, to speak out against what we think is wrong and fight for what we believe is right. We are legally allowed to demand the woman who won the popular vote be instituted as our president. We are legally allowed to call out racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia and ableism.

In fact, we are doing so.

Attempting to stop protests and silence opposition denies the very basic democratic ideals of our nation. Instead of whining about the protests themselves, try to think about why people feel the need to protest in the first place.

Obviously something is wrong. This is no ordinary election, and this is no ordinary reaction to an election.

People are scared for their lives. It is not hyperbole. It is not melodramatic.

It is real. It is valid. It is legal. And it will make a difference, whether you support it or not.

Bobbie Szabo is a columnist, contact her at [email protected]