By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on September 10, 2020.
The right to protest peacefully is one which every Canadian and every Lethbridge resident has. And as long as it remains peaceful, that right is sacrosanct.
On Tuesday about 80 people came to a city council meeting to protest the temporary face-covering bylaw. Agree or disagree – call them COVIDIOTS or defenders of freedom – the people who came out protested while not exactly legally, (they had no permit, wore no masks, defied provincial public health orders and entered city council chambers after being asked not to in such numbers), they did so peacefully and left promptly after making their point to city council.
What followed was a free-for-all on social media with some praising the protesters and others disparaging and maligning them – calling for them to be punitively fined under the City’s masking bylaw for daring to engage in such a civil protest action.
On Aug. 31 about 100 harm-reduction advocates also protested peacefully in front of city hall. They had a proper permit. They held a “Die-In” protest on a public sidewalk. They were passionate in making their point. They harmed no one. Interfered with no one. And left peacefully after making their point.
What followed was a free-for-all on social media with some praising the protesters and others disparaging and maligning them for daring to express their opinions publicly.
We live in a strange society where some people seem to think their opinion is the only one that matters, and that others of contrary opinion should be silenced or shunned. That is not democracy. Nor is it an expression of democracy to advocate for the silencing of any voice, regardless of your political affiliation, just because you don’t like to hear a contrary opinion to your own.
It is good to see we have such an engaged citizenry in Lethbridge who are willing to take specific actions to express their political viewpoints. It means we have a healthy democracy, and have found the right balance between free speech and respect for the political system we have in the city. And, of course, the ultimate expression of that is the vote.
Don’t like something going on in city council or provincial politics? Get out and vote for the change you want. Volunteer with a political campaign. Help organize a community action.
Sitting back and slagging others on social media for being brave enough to express their political views in public forums and engage in peaceful protest is not democracy in action.
More often than not, sadly, it amounts to nothing more than, as Shakespeare once said, “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
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