Others have argued that protesters are harassing the farmers and that we should leave them to their own beliefs. They feel that our protests violate Dye and Mackey’s rights to free speech. However, we believe that this view results from a confusion between the right of privacy and the right of free speech, and public misconceptions about the extent to which the Constitution protects privacy.
The constitution explicitly protects the right to protest and also does not protect the privacy of the farmers in this case. The first amendment secures people’s right to hate speech. It also protects people’s right to almost all forms of public discourse. Our Supreme Court has always upheld a very generous interpretation of free speech, and in order to take away someone’s right to free speech, one has to produce extensive evidence of libel. That is why Dye was unable to secure her restraining order: the evidence confirming Volkmom’s identity is clear and overwhelming. People have a right to speak about others when they are reasonably able to defend the things they say.
By contrast, the constitution gives very little right to privacy, and most of what it does provide does not apply to online activity. People simply do not have a right to prevent people from knowing about beliefs they have, actions they’ve taken, or what they have posted online. The constitution protects people’s rights to discuss these things. Because we are dealing with a violent movement, we would ask people to challenge the discomfort they feel at the notion that people’s privacy has been violated. While we appreciate the need to protect privacy, in this case, we believe the concern is misplaced.