Organizers of yesterday’s Ted Cruz rally in Frederick, Md. asked a 16-year-old high school student and his mom to leave the rally because the student was wearing a cape and shirt bearing a message challenging Cruz’s opinions on an issue in the news. According to reports, the organizers cited a rule against bringing into the rally visible messages other than those of the Cruz campaign. The student was wearing a transgender pride cape and a t-shirt with the logo of the National Center for Transgender Equality. In a Facebook post shared more than 1,300 times since the rally, he is seen holding a sign that reads, with perhaps a hint of irony given his complaints, “Human Rights Are Not Up For Debate.”
Some persons I know in the Frederick area are raising a fuss about this. I’m not. That’s not because I’m voting for Cruz on Tuesday (I’m supporting Ohio Gov. John Kasich) and not because I agree with Cruz on the group of issues in question (I mostly don’t) but for the simple reason that it’s his rally and his rules. Each presidential campaign reserves similar rights and each campaign enforces them. That’s why persons with messages, even not-necessarily-antagonistic messages, have been required to leave rallies for Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, and the rest. That’s why the ACLU, not exactly hostile to protesters, acknowledges that each “campaign has the right to control its own political theater” and can mandate the use or non-use of signs.
Happily, we live in a free country in which there are plenty of ways to express disagreement with Ted Cruz’s opinions. Neither Cruz nor the management of the Weinberg Center are obliged to guarantee that you get to do so from inside a Ted Cruz rally.