I’m thankful for the First Amendment.
The First Amendment is literally the reason I get out of bed every morning. It was why I chose this profession. I felt it was important and something I would gladly defend every day.
I think it’s time we acknowledge what happened last weekend. I feel like someone has to, and there’s a discussion we need to have.
During a white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday, James Alex Fields Jr., of Ohio, allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counter protesters, leaving a 32-year-old woman dead and injuring at least 19 other people.
Her name was Heather Heyer, and she was described as a “passionate advocate for the disenfranchised.”
People may be quick to call out those protesting the white nationalists. In fact, our own president made sure to point out the blame “on both sides.”
While he was blasted for that at the time, he’s not entirely wrong.
I do feel Trump should’ve come out and immediately denounced the white nationalists because there’s no room for that in this country. You can’t hold a Nazi flag and then talk about oppression as a white American. I had a grandfather that fought Nazis, but also he fought for your right to carry that flag. It’s an interesting conundrum.
Trump didn’t immediately denounce it, and he caught flak from reporters and most of Congress.
But, I’ve also seen videos of violent Antifa groups, as well, and we have to stop that, too. At this point, there is, in fact, blame on both sides, but there’s one thing that can get lost in all of this.
There’s still a 32-year-old woman who died a senseless death Saturday. Her life was cut short, and all she was doing was exercising her First Amendment right.
She was standing up for something she believed in, and she was protesting hateful speech, which is, regardless of how we feel about it, protected by that same First Amendment. It’s hard to accept something so repugnant and hateful can be protected, but it is. However, there was no right for a man to smash a car into a crowd of people with differing opinions.
Agreeing to disagree is one of the things that makes this country special and one of the things that has always made us great. You may differ from my personal opinion, and that’s OK. I’m going to love and respect you either way.
We are a great country, but there are things we need to fix, and the events from the past week have shown us that again. We are all unique and interesting and cool and different and funny and weird and talented and beautiful. We are all Americans. We all deserve to be treated fairly. We have a right to stand up for injustices.
It’s our First Amendment right, thankfully.
Bradley Roberts is managing editor of the Times-Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com