Guest Post by Michael Coughlin
The COVID-19 situation has resulted in millions of Americans being stripped of their livelihoods. Hundreds of Ohioans have decided to love their neighbors through peaceful demonstrations outside the Ohio Statehouse, petitioning their government through the very means recognized by the Bill of Rights. One Ohio “journalist,” Colleen Marshall, has decided to question the first amendment rights of the demonstrators, spread hate and division to her readership, and slander peace-loving citizens. This is their story. You can watch the video and read the “journalism” at this link: Marshall Article. And yes, the term journalism is in scare quotes because what you just witnessed on the NBC4i website is better classified as mythology. The video and article are full of misrepresentations and lies. Let’s deal with some of the biggest issues.
The First Amendment
Apparently the irony of a journalist attacking the first amendment rights of other Americans was lost on Marshall, but not reasonable, thinking people. In the article and video, Marshall quotes a former judge, Ronald Solove, “Government has a right to regulate speech to some extent,” he said. “It’s a hackneyed expression, but you can’t holler fire in a crowded theater, and you ought not to be able to cast viruses in a crowded space. It just doesn’t make sense.” Yes. You read that correctly. A former judge and practicing lawyer (Ronald Solove) and a “journalist” who bragged about getting “an ‘A’ in Constitutional Law classes” are comparing inducing panic with people who are peacefully gathering to make their redresses heard. Dr. Anthony Silvestro who filmed one of the protests for two hours wrote to Marshall: “The law professor that you interviewed used the classic example of “you can’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded movie theater. And then he attempted to apply that to the most liberal and incorrect interpretations of the first amendment. I can tell you what isn’t protected under the first amendment, and this is actually a correct understanding according to the law: slander. Which he committed when he lied about the protest in the way you framed it on camera.”
Interestingly enough, Solove defends the idea that speech isn’t 100% free by saying “you ought not be able to cast viruses in a crowded space.” Who was doing this? Has there been an outbreak of coronavirus among the protesters? What kind of publication would publish such an inane idea as limit people’s freedoms because they are casting viruses?
Gaslighting and Spreading Division
Marshall gets very dramatic in the video that accompanies the article above when she says “NBC4 is covering the statehouse demonstrations from a distance for two reasons: so that we do not inadvertently use the public airwaves to show symbols of hate…”
Look at the photo above. What you see is a large group of demonstrators who came prepared with signs to REBUKE the anti-semitic sign-holders. You have a group of peaceful protestors who want to make it CLEAR that “they are not with us.”
Were the NBC4i reporters and photographers unable to see these signs? I don’t think it’s a horrific lack of charity to presume that NBC4i and Marshall have an agenda to promote, and that agenda is NOT to let the demonstrators appear peaceful, reasonable, nor loving. So hey, let’s basically make them all out to be anti-semitic!
Heather Groves writes: “Instead of covering the ongoing negative impact that this shutdown is having on Ohioans across the state, you chose to focus your segment on 2 individuals out of the thousands who have peacefully gathered over the past month. Those two individuals, who you accurately depict holding an anti-Semitic sign, were quickly pressured to leave the capital after being told by those of us there that they were not representing us or our cause. Perhaps your coverage could have brought light to a hurting Jewish community by showing them how quickly Ohioans rose to defend their honor, but instead you chose to capitalize off of the pain caused by two misguided and hateful individuals to push an agenda instead of reporting the actual facts. “
Creating division in the United States is one of the primary strategies any enemy of our way of life would employ. But NBC4i exists to make money, not report facts. And Marshall’s liberal agenda (just peruse her twitter account) will not allow her to report the truth about these demonstrations if that truth doesn’t align with what she wants her viewers to think. Why, if NBC4i’s goal is to not inadvertently show symbols of hate do they do an entire segment painting a large group of people as haters who are not?
Greg Jevnikar of Galion Ohio writes: “The focus was not pro-Trump or anti-vaccine or any other special interest demonstration. The protests transcended those special interests, instead were primarily protesting the federal and state government tyranny. What was being protested was the foolish and unnecessary destruction of Ohio’s economy and job losses as a result of the Governor’s and the ODH Director’s misguided response to the so-called coronavirus pandemic.” Notice the fear-mongering tactics employed by Solove and promoted by Marshall. He’s not sure America is “safe” because of a couple of Jew-haters who were persuaded to leave a demonstration? Where could he feel more safe than in the midst of a group of people who patently rejected anti-semites and convinced them to leave? In a time of crisis or potential crisis, heroes will rise up to preserve the lives of their neighbors (by preserving their freedoms) and cowards will use those times as opportunities to advance their evil agendas. I can only hope God will convert some of those cowards to heroes.
Slander Hurts People
Cory Branham of Mansfield, OH is fearful of what these reports could do to his reputation as a school teacher. He is the man in the screenshot below who spoke to the group at the Ohio protests.
Cory writes: “I am a holder of two associates degrees, one BA in history and political science, and an MA in Biblical Studies from Liberty University. Additionally, I am a history, political science, and economics teacher … an 11-year Active Duty veteran who has worked with and respected people from all over the world. I love the nation of Israel! In fact, I have been there on three separate occasions in the last four years and had plans to be there again this June for the observance of Pentecost.”
The irresponsible “reporting” by Colleen Marshall and NBC4i has caused this devoted father and husband to fear for his reputation and the effect that being associated with anti-semitism could have on his career as a Christian schoolteacher. Christian schools desire to be “above reproach,” and a public proclamation by a major media outlet that paints Branham as a Nazi could be insurmountable.
So while pretending to be concerned about the health of individuals who could suffer from a virus that has proven to be not worth the attention it’s received, people like Marshall happily slander good men like Branham, causing undue stress and worry in an already unsure economic climate.
Finally, About Amendments
Let me add a final note about gun-toting, Trump-loving, Governor’s-orders-defying Americans at the Ohio Statehouse. A group of men walked around in militia-like garb open carrying firearms. This is a liberal’s DREAM. Because if the narrative is true, LITERALLY everyone at each protest should have been shot and killed by now. But sorry-not-sorry, liberals, no one was actually hurt in these demonstrations (I daresay no one has even reported getting sick *gasp*)! What I saw was men walking around with deadly weapons and not even law enforcement was fazed by them. The reason is that these peaceful demonstrators posed no threat to anyone who was not there to do harm. What we need to remember is that the rights given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ exist harmoniously. That is, your right to free speech is often guarded by your right to assemble. Colleen Marshall’s right to propagate what she calls journalism is protected by others’ right to bear arms. This is why a demonstration that is sparked by job loss of a fraction of our population is quickly joined by folks from all walks of life, even those who haven’t lost their job. Because people of faith recognize that their right to assemble and worship as God has commanded is also threatened. Men and women who have not lost their jobs (yet) recognize that if they don’t speak up now, they may never have a chance and they care about their neighbor who has. Because a threat to our liberties is like the knocking down of the first domino, patriots have chosen to hold governments accountable to the Constitution they are sworn to uphold.
Several concerned Ohioans reached out to Marshall personally to refute her false accusations and slanted non-telling of the events at the Ohio Statehouse. For whatever reason, Marshall seems to think that getting “protesters” to talk to her is impossible. This is another untruth she is reporting. It’s not true that protesters don’t want to be interviewed: it’s simply inconvenient when dozens of people are willing to say what you don’t want them to say, Colleen.