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There’s an inherited right we have as Americans that we take for granted and misuse often: Freedom of speech. We like freedom of speech. This country was founded on the principles of freedom while also having a strong central government. But something is changing, and I don’t like it.

Ever since the election of Donald Trump, many college students find themselves on protest blocks waving flags and signs. And that’s their right; it doesn’t matter if anyone is a Republican or a Democrat, we have the right to peacefully protest against things we disagree with.

Recently, several conservative states have been trying to curtail freedom of speech by enforcing laws that restrict protest activity and assembly. This is due to a significant rise in rioting and unruliness by protesters following the rise of Trump to the presidency.

This is simply abhorrent. How dare Republicans, many of whom admire the Bill of Rights so much that they have tattooed the Amendments on their skin, seek to restrict the First Amendment?

The First Amendment is in many ways the most important one. Freedom of speech means so much to people and so much to the politicalized culture that has been cultivated over recent generations. It is important to remember that not so long ago (and arguably still today) Republicans were the silent majority. Disgusted by Obama’s radical healthcare reforms and labor reforms, these people went out to the street and protested. Some were more violent than others, but does this mean that Republicans are just naturally violent and that protests should be banned? No. It does not.

Not long ago did we Republicans protest the election of President Obama. Not long ago did we have to suffer through torment from higher education for not being progressive. Not long ago were we in the same boat that the millennial Democrats find themselves in now, irritated by a leader we didn’t want.

The left, champion of civil rights, supports many Middle Eastern countries that force women to cover themselves and shove homosexuals off rooftops. It is shameful that we now exhibit the same level of hypocrisy that the left displays. It is dishonorable to the American creed of cooperation and freedom — freedom of ideas, freedom of assembly and freedom of expression. While the left has betrayed women’s rights and gay rights, Republicans are now beginning to betray the foundation of the republic: Freedom.

While I might not agree with what the left is standing for with all these protests (the Dakota Access Pipeline and such), I will agree that they are Americans, and Americans are entitled to the right to protest.

Yes. They obstruct traffic and cause a living hell to commuters and workers, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have a right to say what they’re thinking. It isn’t right that they disrupt work for others, but censoring them is no better.

We can’t simply blame a few bad eggs on the bunch. We have to consider that some people are not there to protest, they are there to cause violence and loot. Those who do that should be punished to the fullest extent of the law by the police and state troopers. However, we can’t shut down freedom of thought to save the freedom of America. Such an action by Republicans betrays the ideals they are supposed to embrace.