I have worked in or around the Ohio Statehouse for a decade or more. I have seen a great many protests, counter-protests and events involving all kinds of issues and groups. But when I stopped by the Statehouse today to check out the Values Bus Tour event put on by Heritage Foundation and Family Research Council I experienced something I don't believe I had ever witnessed. A counter-protest effectively shutting down an event.
As you can se in the video above, a small group of what appeared to be pro-abortion and gay/lesbian protestors had gathered with signs to protest the values groups. And this is to be expected, and would have been largely uneventful, except for one thing: a couple of the protesters had bullhorns equipped with sirens. They used these to emit an earsplitting noise that made hearing the speakers nearly impossible and mere rational thought challenging. In person it was much louder and headache inducing than in the video if you can believe it
The video does capture the anger and vitriol of the left quite well in my opinion. But it also points out the hypocrisy of the left. They so often pretend to defend free speech, dialog, tolerance, elevated discourse and a host of other virtues and freedoms. But here is a group hosting an event focused on getting people registered to vote, educating them on the issues and getting them engaged in the political process. Whether you agree with their policies or politics this is democracy, right? This is about free speech and public engagement on the issues that matter to our country.
So what does this group of angry leftists do? Instead of providing an alternative point of view for those attending the event, or even protesting the event from the sidewalk, they basically use sirens and shouts to prevent the speakers from being heard. They were clearly attempting to silence an opposing viewpoint. They were not interested in debate or discussion but loudly and angrily demanding that these peaceful folks leave the state; screeching that these views were not to be tolerated but shouted down and silenced.
We have entered an Orwellian world where views on issues from spending and deficits to abortion and marriage - views held by large swaths of the American electorate - are not opposing viewpoints or different perspectives to be debated and/or refuted but "hate speech" that must be silenced and kept from even having an audience.
Keep this in mind next time the left tries to claim the moral high ground on free speech and tolerance.