(WTVM) - The very vocal protests and political rallies around the country are evidence that everyone can exercise their right to free expression.
But when those protests turn ugly and violent, it's no longer speech and it's no longer free.
Take the recent riots at the university of Berkley in California. The violent behavior seen all over the national news was the result of a demonstration against an ultra-conservative invited to speak on campus, named Milo Yiannopoulis.
The students were joined by others who weren't students, but who couldn't pass up a high-profile mass protest. Police identified them as Anarchists.
Milo, as he is known, may be the most famous speaker no one has ever actually heard speak.
Milo writes for the conservative website Breitbart, supports President Trump, is openly gay, though not a supporter of gay marriage.
He calls himself a libertarian and is opposed to the political correctness of any kind. So, to shut Milo up, the rioters shut the university down.
Protestors smashed their way around campus, setting fires and breaking windows at a Starbucks, which, ironically, is owned by the outspoken liberal Howard Schultz.
Shultz expressed his free speech when he told an annual Starbucks shareholders meeting that "if you support traditional marriage, we don't want your business."
And the events in Berkley were ironic for another reason. Berkley was the birthplace of free speech anti-war demonstrations in the 60's.
But the crowd of agitators last week at Berkley didn't want milo to speak…even while they held signs that said: "nobody's free until we are all free".
This is an important time in our history to let free speech flow…each side has the right to express itself as guaranteed in the constitution.
But the right to free speech never means the right to shut down speech you don't like.
General Manager Holly Steuart brings two editorials a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to:
WTVM Editorial Committee
1909 Wynnton Road
Columbus, GA 31906