This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

There have been protests on campuses, streets and congressional offices across the country recently. Liberal snowflakes have protested the speeches of Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos. Heartless conservatives have had enfeebled constituents arrested and dragged from their offices. During this tense national moment, something sinister has emerged: an effort to stifle our right to protest, to stifle our right to free speech. We've seen this effort expressed in the 19 anti-protest laws proposed this year alone.

The problem here is complex. First, we as citizens fail to properly respect the right to protest as one of the foundational pieces of free speech; second, we fail to realize that neither party nor the ruling establishment want us to protest; third, we fall into the trap of labeling protest movements as violent or dangerous if we disagree with their message or if any person even loosely attached to that movement does anything wrong.

Protests are democracy. Protesting is as fundamental to our nation as any activity. Our Founding Fathers are venerated for the protests they led when they believed the government in England became tyrannical, but we are getting dangerously close to giving our government a tyrannical amount of control over our speech.

Jason Chandler

Salt Lake City

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