Constitutionally protected dissent rights

Constitutionally Protected Dissent Rights

Many people mistakenly believe that constitutionally protected dissent rights include the freedom to express one's opinions or to publicize what they believe to be true. One of the three basic freedoms guaranteed by the first amendment is the right to free speech. (Archer, 2016). Any legislation that goes against those rights cannot even be passed by Congress. The other two are petitioning the government to address people's complaints, and the final one is peaceful gathering of people. Even though these rights are expressly protected, the government has never upheld them and has even taken action on several occasions to target suppression, especially during times of emergency. With such issues, dissent becomes essential in American Society because it is the only way to get things to change for the better.

The Importance of Protest

It is true; protesters break the law in an insubstantial and nonviolent ways while still express clearly that their actions seek to bring changes to policies and practices termed as more harmful than the protest itself. Such law violations have a long history in America, and still today there are thousands of activists in civil disobedience with the example of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp torture, the removal of the Appalachian mountaintop and the draconian immigration laws.

Dissent undermines the unjust power structures to ensure that something more truthful comes into place. The process is never perfect, not successful all the time, it is difficult, and mostly it is traumatic. But, despite such challenges, it should not be ignored because it can produce a better society as well as satisfy human desires in the struggle for justice. It is one way adopted by communities to develop its rights and liberal values. Because people are less allowed to carry out discussions about change in many nations, they become forced to dissent as the only means of delivering their message to remove the injustice, restore and bring change. Such actions are almost impossible to succeed in the near future, and sometimes many people die devoid of tasting those changes or live a life full of suffering. If people decide not to engage in dissent and prefer complacency, then they live a trouble-free life but without freedom. For individuals or society to get liberty, dissidents usually have to offer even their blood to cater for the change. On the other hand, if such people win the battle, they seem to control powers in wrong ways, and they can lead many to prolonged periods of bloodshed.

Lessons from History

If we look at the history, we can find the importance of dissent, an example being the civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King junior. He helped to bring civil rights and racial acceptance (Comer, 2014). Though some situations may not succeed, they pay courage and moral comfort to other peoples in the society.

Activism and Democracy

Mostly, governments and some people paint activism as violent and disrespectful to a nation’s democracy. It is the act of using the little power held by citizens to make a stand and express the anger or demands. Through experience, many people can understand how protest is delegitimized by those in power because they are the exact individuals protested against (Friedman, 2014). The delegitimization has not started today; it has been there before from the poll tax riots to the battle for suffrage, people calling for the LBGT equality or even the end of state discrimination. If one has to look at what individuals in power had to say when these battles continued, activists are extremist and troublemakers. Well, it is still a part of the political process. Campaigners have to get marginalized while taking actions until they win changing the perspectives; their values get co-opted after succeeding to shift the norm.

The Fight for LBGT Rights

Some who engage in these activities become arrested and harassed with the example of LBGT groups (Sobel, 2015). In June 1968, police raided a transgender bar in Greenwich Village called Stonewall Inn. Some of the clubs patrons began to resist the arrests. From here, a vast LGBT group rioted for three days against police brutality. They were angry, confronting the police with flyers and attacking how Mafia controls the gay bars. The Gay Liberation Movement was the second force that led to the establishment of organizations such as The Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and the Gay Activist Alliance (GAA) which engaged in street dramas. Out of these liberations, today’s advocacy organizations started with various strategies such as Human Right Campaign created in 1980 by the middle class as well as reformist traditions. The group has been facing discrimination since then, until 2008 when the California Supreme Court ruled in their favor. Suicide cases also increased in the 2000s and 2010 due to the reduced self-esteem of the LBGT kids resulting from homophobic bullying. In June 2016, more than 45 people, mainly of Latino descent, were shot by Omar Mateen at the pulse gay nightclub in Florida.

The Fight for an Eight-Hour Workday

Employers in the 19th century expected employees to spend 12 or more hours a day and six days in a week working. But in the 1880s, reformers, unionists, socialists, and anarchists utilized their energy to demand for an eight-hour workday. In the first week of May 1886, workers in Chicago abandoned their jobs and engaged in a massive protest to request for the reduction of the long days and some of those events involved violence with the police where at least two people died on the third of May. In response to those deaths, 1500 people gathered peacefully at the west side of the Randolph market and filled the day with fiery speeches from anarchists and labor leaders (Nelson, 2013). What followed were deaths of an unknown number of citizens and around four policemen. The anarchists faced terrible trials to the point that some got executed although others were lucky because the government lifted their condemnation. But in the end, what everyone wanted was achieved even though it was by blood.

The Power of Demonstration

Always there is a mass arrest of those who attend demonstrations although most never face charges. Around 160 people were arrested at the antifascist match of September 2013. Mostly we see the imposition of bail conditions purposely to curtail more protests and prevent many from attending demonstrations. Today, one has to seek permission to protest, if the state accepts, then you have to pay for the policing. It is also illegal to demonstrate in the parliament square (Prasad, 2017). The Human Right Act stipulates freedom of assembly as well as association with the legal systems. Many of those who take strikes in the streets or even engage in direct actions do not have the lobbyist to fight their corners. The demonstration is the only power in the hands of people beyond voting after every five years.

The Benefits of Expressing Opinions

Persecuting the opinion expression seems to me as a perfect logic. If people have no doubt of their premises or their powers and yet they want specific results wholeheartedly, then expressing their wishes in the natural law should be the route to follow and clear all the opposition. When one opposes the negotiations, he shows that it is entirely impotent as when men say they do not mind about the outcome and also that they disbelief their premises or power (Cameron, 2014). When people realize that time has frustrated many fighting faiths, then they can have an opportunity to believe more than they think of their conduct foundation. The desired good can correctly be reached through the exchange of ideas. The best truth test is the power of the mind getting approved in a market competition; founded on the platform at which their wishes can be carried out. I believe that if people apply this knowledge in every country, then everything would run smoothly. But this thought does not look applicable in a country like America where the government has worked hard to suppress the expressions. But also, on the other hand, I think it would be beneficial for people to become vigilant against attempts of checking the opinion expression we loathe and believe to come with death. We should only conduct the demonstration if the issues are so threatening to the immediate interference of the law and its essential purposes.

Dissent and Democracy

Protesting is crucial to our democracy because it gives voices to those with fewer privileges or with no platforms to express themselves. I would advise people to wait before judging activists, the next time they see them; they should understand they are not troublemakers. Protesting has brought real fruits to democracy and has managed to push those in power for change.


Archer, J. (2016). Treason in America: Disloyalty Versus Dissent. Skyhorse Publishing, Inc..

Cameron, J. (2014). The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind- and Changed the History of Free Speech in America.

Comer, E. (2014). In Terms of Black and White: Race, Citizenship, and Dissent in Great War America, 1917-1919.

Friedman, A. (2014). Citizenship in Cold War America: The National Security State and the Possibilities of Dissent. University of Massachusetts Press.

Nelson, C. (2013). Disciplinarity and dissent in cultural studies. Routledge.

Prasad, P. (2017). Outsider Orbits: Disavowal and Dissent in the United States. QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking, 4(2), 100-107.

Sobel, S. L. (2015). Culture Shifting at Warp Speed: How the Law, Public Engagement, and Will & Grace Led to Social Change for LGBT People. . John's L. Rev., 89, 143.

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