The right to protest
Red Card Roberts
Park Record columnist
Last Saturday, I was one of the estimated 8,000 people who gathered at the top of Main Street to march for women’s rights.
Though I would have gone even if I hadn’t been paid to be there, I was actually covering the event for a media outlet.
Often times when I’m working an event, I’m a bit removed from it emotionally. I’m there to get a story, not personally invest in what’s happening. I’ve covered rallies and parties and movements before and left no different than when I got there — unaffected by anything that was said or anything I saw. If it didn’t make good TV, I didn’t even remember it happened.
But Saturday’s event was different. I had goose bumps — and not because it was 20 degrees and snowing. There was something special about thousands of women peacefully assembling, exercising their Constitutional rights and demanding to be heard. It’s something I have never experienced, mostly because there were so many others who fought the fight before me. Who knew we’d have to do it again 50 years later?
Since the march, I’ve seen, read and heard a lot of people wondering why we bothered. Comments ranged from “It won’t change anything” to “This is nothing more than a temper tantrum that caused a traffic jam.”
Sentiments I don’t agree with. Progress isn’t supposed to be convenient and change doesn’t happen in your spare time. The marches held last weekend around the country weren’t about people being bummed out and disappointed about an election. They weren’t a liberal hissy fit. They were about people being genuinely afraid.
They were about people who are fearful of losing their health care because they have a pre-existing condition. They were about women who are fearful of losing their right to make decisions about their bodies. They were about people who are concerned about the quality of the education their children will receive and the access they’ll have to clean water and air. They were about the anxiety over the future of free press, free speech and the freedom to have different religious beliefs, or none at all.
And for those who still don’t understand that, it’s important to know that just because you have never personally felt the fear, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or that it’s not justified.
As Americans, we have the right to protest. And for the most part, taking a stand for what you believe in is how we get stuff done. It’s how women received the right to vote. It’s why we no longer have separate bathrooms for black people. It’s how wars have ended, and it’ s how social progress has been made for decades.
Change happens when people cause a ruckus and demand those in charge take notice. Whether or not you approve of the message doesn’t matter.
The vast majority of those marching last weekend don’t approve of the Tea Party’s message, but just a handful of years ago, that group took to the streets, demanded change and made a difference. I don’t personally like the difference they made, but I respect that they galvanized a group of supporters and they got something done that was important to them. Now, the pendulum seems to be swinging the other way, and those who don’t approve of the momentum don’t get to dismiss it as a liberal outburst.
Yes, the people have spoken and, yes, Donald Trump is our president. We don’t have to like it, but we do have to accept it.
What we don’t have to accept is government infringement on our rights and our choices. We don’t have to accept disrespectful rhetoric, a gender wage gap or a gag order on our media. We don’t have to accept religious intolerance or hate.
And if that continues to be the message we hear from this administration, you’re damn right we’re going to protest it.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident, and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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