Trump & What Is Freedom of Speech?

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will speak at the Tsongas Center on Monday, Jan. 4. (Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore)

Zachary Zuber
UML Student

When the news broke that Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump was in the works to organize at rally at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, it was greeted with much controversy and debate.  A great deal of it came via an online petition to not have Trump come to Lowell, one that drew over 2000 signatures in its first four days.  That has drawn the ire of many individuals claiming that not letting Trump have his event would be in violation of the First Amendment and the freedom of speech it provides. But would it?

To start things off, let’s address a few key points.  Like all of us in this nation, Donald Trump has the right to speak his mind and say whatever he wants to say.  People have the right to support Trump and if they want him to come to Lowell, they should not be looked down upon for desiring such. But just because the First Amendment gives Trump the right to speak his mind, does not mean everyone is obliged to give him a platform to promote his ideas. The Tsongas Center and people of Lowell are under no obligation to house his rallies: If they want to, they can; if they don’t, they can refuse. That is NOT a violation of freedom of speech and that is not censorship. Trump is free to travel through the Lowell community and spread his opinions in whatever ways he can, which includes looking for locations to organize his rallies. It is just that not every place he requests is constitutionally mandated to host it. No one, no matter how famous or important, is entitled to have a venue or organization host a special event for them just so they can exercise their freedom of speech.

As students of UMass Lowell, we also have every right to say that we don’t want Trump coming here, just as students have every right to say that they do want Trump coming here. That is us both exercising free speech. However, it is not our decision to make. The powers at be at the Tsongas Center will decide if this is something they want and yes, they are allowed to decide. Freedom of speech doesn’t force them into hosting the event; they could easily look at the controversial remarks Trump has made during his campaign, along with the petition and the negative feedback his potential appearance has gotten from the Lowell community and tell him “thanks, but no thanks.” That would NOT be in violation of anybody’s rights. Just as easily, the powers at be could say yes, which it seems like they have at the time of this story. If he does end up coming to Lowell, it won’t be the end of the world. And if the Tsongas had said no or the petition works it won’t be either.

Point is, a private venue is not forced by the Constitution to host a rally for Trump and it is not censorship if students at a University are opposed to a man, who has said some pretty inflammatory things to say at least, using school facilities to further his agenda.

Again, the First Amendment grants Trump the right to speak his mind and we shouldn’t try to censor him, no matter how much we may disagree. That does not however, make us bound to aiding him in getting his thoughts out there. A popular quote that outlines freedom of speech is “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” Perhaps to aid in clarification for this controversy, the quote should be rephrased to “I do not agree with what you have to say, and though I’ll defend to the death your right to say it, under no means am I obliged to help you say it.”

Zachary Zuber

Zachary Zuber is President of Sigma Beta Rho Fraternity, Inc. as well as the Social Media Manager of the UML Connector. From Haverhill, MA., he is a senior majoring in Exercise Physiology and hopes to become a Physical Therapist.

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19 Comments

    • Paula Haines said:

      ^ Matthew, will you please explain your comment? If you’re name-calling at the author of this article, please read again, as he clearly describes and calls for the upholding of key aspects of democracy, including maintaining the rights of parties on both sides of ideological divides.

  1. Kevin J Dobbins said:

    Interesting that the students own the arena. That is an excellent university indeed. It is no surprise that brainwashed godless baby-killing terrorist-hugging loudmouth liberal apologists do not want to hear the truth. Your cowardly mentors protested the Vietnam War when our soldiers fought and died there at the request of the southern government of Vietnam for freedom. I am sure they would have protested against us fighting in WWII and Korea as well since they are so utterly pathetic and cowardly. You talk of free speech while never realizing you and your ilk will never be free. You have been programmed and are playing the part as intended. Perhaps you too can spit on soldiers returning home while hugging refugees who want a Sharia government and your head on the mantle.

    • Evan Warren said:

      honestly man, i come from a military family. there is not a lot that i respect more than a willingness to lay down one’s life in defense of a nation they love. I would never be willing to do that, and in that respect, you’re right, I am a coward.

      Now I am not saying this article is right. But there is something obviously dangerous about policies that require specific religious demographics to wear visible identification (see every historical moment where this has occurred ever, WWII might be a good place to start, since you seem to like that one), as well as blocking travel outright. The problem isn’t just the implications of that here, on our soil, which frankly i don’t really think you would be willing to try and rap your head around anyway, but we are alienating other nations. We need allies right now more than ever considering how volatile global politics are becoming with china, russia and syria.

  2. Thayer Eastman said:

    Anyone remember the Elizabeth Warren and DNC at the south campus a few years ago? She had her chance to
    Speak and nobody tried to shut her down. Equality of political speech regardless of whether you agree with the content or not.

    • Erik said:

      No one protested against her and them because there was no reason to. Trump’s hate speech gives more than enough reason. Most any other republican we would be fine with, but Trump needs to reap what he sow.

  3. Justin Lozier said:

    I am really surprised that someone who is part of the UML club “Disable The Label” would even start a campaign like this. Zachary Zuber must not believe in the mission behind his own club which is; “We are a club on the UML campus who focuses on equal access, equal opportunity and unique strengths”. As a UML student, Trump is more than welcome to come to the Tsongas Center along with another presidential candidates.

    • Jay said:

      Justin, I read your comment and it made me wonder if you pulled key elements of Zachary’s ideas from this article. I believe he is indeed believing in his own mission about equal access, opportunities and strength. Everyone including Trump has their own mission and Zach is simply stating that, “I do not agree with what you have to say, and though I’ll defend to the death your right to say it, under no means am I obliged to help you say it.” That is a huge statement. Also he mentioned “As students of UMass Lowell, we also have every right to say that we don’t want Trump coming here, just as students have every right to say that they do want Trump coming here, in my opinion he’s just exercising his right to voice his own opinions which are shared between supporters and opposers.

      Also to my understanding he’s basically respecting both parties who support Trump and don’t support him because of his ideas and perhaps regarding to radical things he’s said in the past? Regardless this is just one man’s thoughts on the event, and I think you should give this a second read before you or anyone for that matter, who jumps to conclusions about the authors intentions and his dedication to the Lowell community!

    • James Smith said:

      What does the message of Disable The Label have to do with not wanting a man preaching hate speech to host an event on our campus/

  4. redheartconsetvative said:

    Just more commie drivel. Every time you try to apply a different standard to people you don’t agree with, you become yet another Stalinist. Get over it. From what I saw, there were a lot more than 2000 people at the venue, so even by your “populist” rules, he should have been there. 7 protesters out of several thousand in the audience? Not even a rounding error. I’m assuming they still teach fractions in school.

    • riverhawkliberal said:

      There was actual hundreds of protestors outside and at least 3 dozen were escorted out during the event…

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  6. UML Constitution supporter said:

    One can only imagine the smug, self-congratulatory look Zach has on his face while he, and everyone else who supports the fascist idea of not letting a man speak at an arena, shares this piece of drivel. An article fueled by a new generation of students raised on being entitled and believing that we’re all very special snowflakes. Students believing that by retweeting and sharing photos they can make an actual difference in the world. Republican candidates for POTUS, no matter how abrasive you think they are, should be given as much freedom to speak at a public school-owned arena without question as any democratic candidate. I take it when Sen. Sanders makes blanket statements, such as his recent bit about non-college educated people being doomed to go to prison, Zach doesn’t even blink an eye. I don’t know why I’d expect better out of a newspaper which is funded by tuition and tax dollars.

    • UML Free Speech Supporter said:

      I signed the petition and protested the event along with hundreds of others and its NOT because Trump is a Republican. If this were any other candidate from either side, it wouldn’t have caused this uproar. It has to do with Trump’s comments that boarder on and encourage hate speech and scapegoating innocent groups of people for political gain.

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