Wil Wheaton and free speech

I think it safe to say that many do not understand the right of free speech. Let’s add Wil Wheaton to that list:

I just watched this idiot reporter on KCAL questioning people who were protesting outside of the Republican State Convention in Northern California today.

They were, unsurprisingly, protesting Donald Trump’s rhetoric and message. They were largely younger people, and they were unhappy about his misogyny, bigotry, racism, and xenophobia.

So this stupid reporter, who either knows better and doesn’t care, or is so profoundly ignorant of what he’s reporting on he shouldn’t be there, starts asking the protesters, “Don’t you think Donald Trump has the right to free speech?”

Okay, stupid, let’s break this down for you because apparently any idiot can call himself a reporter these days and get hired by a network. The protesters aren’t government or law enforcement, or agents of the state, so they can’t abridge or prevent Trump’s speech. They aren’t using the apparatus of the state to interfere with his ability to say whatever he wants, so the question about his free speech is irrelevant.

This idiot is asking the wrong question because he’s lazy, stupid, unprepared, or being deliberately obtuse. The question is not “don’t you think Donald Trump has a right to free speech” the question is … well, just to pull three off the top of my non-professional-journalist head: “Why do you feel this way, why are you here, what do you hope to accomplish?”

This idiot did nothing to educate his viewers, and instead spread the false idea that challenging someone’s ideas has anything to do with that person’s constitutionally-protected right to free speech. This stupid reporter has conflated Free Speech with speech free of consequence, which is something I’d expect from a 12 year-old, not someone who is allegedly a professional television reporter.

The concern here is that Wheaton is limiting what he considers a valid interference of free speech rights to just the government. Unfortunately most seem to think that the right to free speech means only the government cannot interfere. No, it means no one can interfere. That’s why it’s called a right.

I left this reply:

So as long as the protesters are not interfering with those trying to get into the venue, and otherwise not interfering with Trump giving his speech, then they’re not interfering with anyone’s rights, merely exercising their own.

But to say that they “can’t abridge or prevent Trump’s speech” is not correct. They can’t *legally* do so, but that hasn’t stopped things like that from happening in the past — and oddly enough, it seems to be consistently coming from the radical left.

Bear in mind that many radical leftists have interfered with speeches and people trying to access those venues. This has especially been the case on college campuses. Chanty Binx (a.k.a. “Big Red”) comes to mind readily on that. A group of protesters at Ohio University interfered with a speech regarding due process rights on campus, labeling that speaker a rape apologist, with several rows of people standing to block his speech. And other interference with speeches has included disruptions during the speech and other attempts to drown out the speaker or otherwise prevent the speaker from giving their speech in a venue where they are authorized to speak.

And their justification for interfering with these speeches and access is by labeling the speaker a (an) [insert label of choice] and by extension saying that their speech is not protected by the First Amendment because they are [insert label here] and their speech is (without reviewing the notes or planned statements ahead of time) “hate speech”. Given you’ve just labeled Trump several things, many would feel justified (and likely have felt justified) in actively denying him his right to speak on those grounds or deny others the ability to access the venue where the speech was being given — the number of people arrested blocking roads shows this.

I’m sure you’re not unaware of all of this going on, and if you are, you need to educate yourself on this.

Again so long as the protesters do not interfere with access to his speech or him giving that speech, then no interference of rights has occurred.

While the First Amendment specifically enjoins the government, no person, whether civilian or law enforcement, has the right to interfere with someone giving a speech at their own venue or one in which they are authorized to speak, nor do they have the right to inhibit someone’s access to that speech.