OUR VIEW - The First Amendment applies to all (even now)

  • OUR VIEW - The First Amendment applies to all (even now)
    OUR VIEW - The First Amendment applies to all (even now)
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The First Amendment is a beautiful thing.
Except when it isn’t.
And on the 14th of September we could see the ugly side of the right to peaceably assemble.
It’s then that a rally is scheduled to take place on the Public Square.
At first glance it’s a rally to promote the reelection of Donald Trump.
Behind the scenes it has been heavily promoted online to various white supremacist groups and will most likely play host to speakers with strong ties to hate-based organizations.
In turn counter protesters have taken notice.
And that means city officials and local law enforcement are working hard to prevent a clash.
Needless to say this is a volatile situation.
And it’s a volatile situation that’s about to occur in the center of our beloved town on a day that’s usually known for weekend wine tastings, trips to The Fudge Factory and laidback strolls around the square.
And so we’re tempted.
We’re tempted to tell all those who would spread racism they’re not allowed within our city limits.
We’re tempted to tell all counter protesters, who would only incite and add to the chaos, that they have to go elsewhere.
We’re tempted to close up the square and hang a ‘No Protesting’ sign at the end of South Chestatee Street.
Not here.
Not now.
Keep moving.
We don’t have time for all this.
But then we remember: the First Amendment.
Like our conscience it reminds us, if you deny the bad, you also deny the good.
If you prevent a demonstration you don’t agree with, then you lay the groundwork for preventing truly noble causes like the March on Washington and the Freedom Riders of the 1960s.
Of course we should note that it’s the same First Amendment that allows us to freely denounce the toxic mix of thinly veiled racism, anti-Semitism and violent posturing that taints this event.
It does not belong in Dahlonega.
Hatred has no home here.
And that’s why there’s a natural reflex to want to shut it all down. But it’s a uniquely American idea to ignore that reflex and allow it to proceed, all in the name of freedom.
That’s why the City of Dahlonega isn’t preventing this.
Even if they wanted to, they can’t.
And ultimately that’s a good thing.
So if it's going to happen, let it be peaceful. Let it be safe. Let it be free.
And let the First Amendment do what it’s supposed to.
Because, when you get down to it, the First Amendment is a beautiful thing.
Even when it isn’t.