by Joe Shea
April 30, 2016
THE FACE OF FREEDOM
BRADENTON, Fla. -- If I were running for President (amd some day I may, God help me), and I encountered - as Donald Tump did yesterday in Anaheim, Calif. - a crowd of demonstrators waving Mexican flags blocking my way into a speaking angagement, I would order the driver to stop and I would exit the car.
The principle is that as an American, I refuse to allow anyone to limit my free speech. I won a U.S. Supreme Court case (see Wiki, Shea v Reno) back in 1997 after putting this paper's existence on the line and staring down a threatened $200,000 fine and two years in Federal prison.
No one is going to take my free speech rights from me. So if I was confronted as above, I would order about half of my Secret Service contingent to fill their guns and machine pistols with blanks and step out towards my destination as they fired in the air if my way was blocked.
I once had to face a mob of angry gay demonstrators when I condemned a storefront where a gay councilwoman, Jackie Goldberg, had decided to distribute clean needles. But after my neighbor Angelica Bermudez found a dead infant in her Dumpster, and my friend and saxophone great Spyder Mittelman and a harmless, friendly homeless guy names Rabbit died of heroin overdoses - Rabbit in the alley immediately behind the clinic - I called a press conference attended by several stations to call on Goldberg to close it down. She called her gay friends.
The demonstrators mobbed me and tried to scream and shout over me as I was interviewed, which was their right, and they pressed against us in a very threatening way. I did not stop talking, but instead asked them about the deaths they had enabled - to no avail, I might add.
The Los Angeles Times criticized me for my stance - the first time in 63 articles that mentioned me - and I persisted until the distribution at that site was stopped. I don't oppose the distribution of clean needles to junkies who neede them to avert catching or spreading AIDS, but I was opposed to it being done in my neighborhood, near Selma Elementary and Blessed Sacrament Elementary schools.
Who would win the popularity polls if Donald Trump did the same? His doing so would not only demonstrate personal courage but strike a blow for freedom of expression wherever on the human, social and political spectrum it occurs.
When those attempting to stop him are of dubious citizenship and loyalties, it is especially important to fight back hard. We all have found how easy it is to shut up controversial voices, and when that become a national pasttime, we will be in more trouble than we already are.
Therefore, here and now, I call on Donald Trump and any presidential candidate so burdened to face his or her detractors and go do what he or she came to do. Do not set an example of sneaking through, under and over fences and coming through back doors to be heard. Take back what is your God-given right to stand up to protestors and go forward.
This, of course, will not be popular with many. They will say, Why put yourself and your guards and the demonstrators at risk?
Why, indeed. Because my Uncle Billy was shot in North Africa, because my brother was shot down twice in Vietnam, because my cousin Paul Roberts died, alomg with my good friends Richard Marsh and Phil Ruminski, to ensure those rights so many seem willing to throw away. Their valor and their courage will not be forgotten here.
Joe Shea is founder and editor of The American Reporter. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.