Is the Tea Party anti-First Amendment?
Earlier this week the Skylands Tea Party ran a paid advertisement in the New Jersey Herald inviting members of the public to attend a rally on Saturday, October 22nd. It was accompanied by a press release, which formed the basis of the following NJ Herald story:
Rally planned for Newton Green Saturday in wake of gas tax hike
New Jersey Herald: Oct. 17, 2016 12:01 am
NEWTON -- The Skylands Tea Party and New Jersey Taxpayers' Association will hold a rally on Saturday, Oct. 22, at the Newton Green to demand a forensic audit of NJ Transit, the Transportation Trust Fund and Port Authority in response to the approved 23-cent gas tax hike signed by Gov. Chris Christie on Friday and set to take effect Nov. 1.
"We, the people of New Jersey, have been overtaxed and poorly governed for far too long," states a joint news release submitted by Harvey Roseff, vice president of the NJTA.
"The increased gas tax, one of the largest tax increases to ever hit the family, was a bridge too far and is unconscionable. Tax policy can't fix management problems -- the problem festers and grows."
The public event is scheduled to run 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
"We are inviting friends and families to stand tall and ask for low-cost, efficient government to become the governing priority," states the event announcement.
This was followed by an email from the Skylands Tea Party on October 18, 2016:
"We the People of this Garden State are staging a protest on Saturday, October 22nd. It will be held at the Newton Green on the corner of Route 94 and Spring Street, beginning at 11:00 AM and ending at 1:00 PM."
That's an open invitation to a public meeting on public property.
But when some of the organizers of the rally found out that folks who don't necessarily share their point of view were thinking of taking them up on the offer, they flipped. Sources claim they went to the Newton mayor's office with their concerns.
We don't know what action the Mayor, a political ally of Assemblyperson Gail Phoebus, took. What we do know is that a Newton police officer called people and suggested that they do not belong at the rally. We don't know why these people where targeted or who gave their names to the police. What is clear is that these people do not share the Tea Party's point of view.
How is that for silencing the opposition? How is that for bullying the First Amendment?
Anyone who uses armed government officers to eliminate the presence of opposing viewpoints, inconvenient as they may be, is nothing more than an old-fashioned Fascist. Speech should be met with speech, ideas with ideas, not by men with guns.
Of course, we can understand the concerns some in the Tea Party might have for what some of their members might do to anyone at the rally who holds a different opinion. Tea Party members have been going overboard using violent and pornographic images and language on social media to describe anyone who disagrees with them -- like this charming Tea Party member from Sussex County:
"All 545 sitting in DC right now are guilty of treason. And all those living who have sat over the past 2 decades, since the signing of NAFTA are, too. That is our reality, they should all be indicted, dragged out in chains, the evidence a matter of congressional record and unimpeachable. And all should be subject to all the consequences the law provides up to the firing squad."
If the Tea Party allows its members to behave this way then they should take responsibility for them. They should not seek to protect them from any alternative opinion that might result in them going off their meds. And they certainly should not be involving armed government officers in what should be a civilized, human-to-human exchange of ideas.