By now most of you have seen numerous examples of Donald Trump taunting rally interrupters. If you haven’t, there is a collection of them put together by the New York Times that you can see HERE. Early on we see Mr. Trump stating, “I certainly don’t incite violence.” But then there is a video clip showing security going through the process of removing an interrupter at a rally, while Mr. Trump cries,
“I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They would be carried out in a stretcher, folks. I’d like to punch him in the face. I tell you.”
At another point, we see Mr. Trump, during another rally disruption, tauntingly crying out,
“All right, get him out, try not to hurt him. If you do, I’ll defend you in court. Don’t worry about it.”
There are many other similar examples that you can see in the NYT‘s collection, but it is hardly complete. In one such case, while security officials are trying to do their jobs, Mr. Trump is shouting at an interrupter derisively, “Why don’t you go get a job!” And in another, again while security personnel are trying to handle things, Mr. Trump is seen baiting a protester, “Get out! OUT!”
After an incident of this kind, Mr. Trump, when questioned about it by a reporter, stated, “This guy started screaming by himself, and, I don’t know, roughed up, he should have, maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.” Then he said, “Violence would help to deter protesters.”
In perhaps the most disturbing example that I have seen, Mr. Trump is seen defending a guy who sucker punched an interrupter who was being escorted out of an arena. Thus, when Mr. Trump was asked about this incident by a reporter, he answered, “He obviously loves this country, and maybe he doesn’t like seeing what’s happening to the country.”
To be fair, Mr Trump sometimes says he doesn’t condone the violence. But then he says things like, “In the good old days this doesn’t happen because they used to treat them very, very rough. And when they protested once, you know, they would not do it again so easily.”
So, if he thinks those were the “good old days,” it sure sounds to me that he wishes we could be doing this type of thing today.
Now, as president of the United States, he faces a lawsuit for inciting violence at his rallies. Judge Hale has ruled that the lawsuit can go forward. Trump’s lawyers argued that the lawsuit should be dropped based on free speech, free speech, but Judge Hale rejected that, saying speech that incites violence is not protected and Trump’s words “at least ‘implicitly encouraged the use of violence or lawless action.'” Plus, the judge wrote, the plaintiffs successfully lay out at least one prior example of protesters being attacked at a Trump rally.
From my own perspective, given the context of how Trump has been handling the very types of incidences being discussed in the lawsuit, it sure seems that he indeed supports being violent toward rally interrupters. But be that as it may, my question for today is, When rally interrupters do indeed interrupt, is it helpful for the candidate to be seeking to taunt the interrupter?
To help answer this question, let’s first look at the situation that we have been discussing as a type of conflict.
The Trump Supporters versus the Trump Rally Interrupters’ Conflict
On this blog, when we discuss conflicts we utilize the DIG Conflict Model. The word DIG reminds us to look into the situation to see if we can identify the three conditions of a conflict, the “desire,” the “interference,” and the “guilt.” When we do this for this situation, we see that the Trump supporters, which includes, of course, Mr. Trump, desire that at the rallies that they attend for Mr. Trump they get to hear what he has to say. They view the interrupters as interfering with this desire when Mr. Trump is trying to speak at the rally and an interrupter begins to shout anti-Trump sentiments. Trump supporters typically would say they believe interrupters are guilty of doing something wrong when they interrupt.
This conflict statement is my best guess of the perspective of Trump supporters. I have derived it from discussions that I have personally had with a few of his supporters and what I have heard from them during TV interviews.
When we use the DIG Conflict Model to describe a conflict, we try to get the perspective of not just one side of the conflict, but from both sides. Unfortunately I have not personally met any of the interrupters, nor have I seen any interviews with them. So, hazarding a guess, perhaps it typically involves one or more of the following three desires: the desire to discourage people from voting for Mr. Trump, the desire to express their anger at Mr. Trump for stirring up hatred toward groups of people they care about, or the desire to get attention.
My Views On Resolving This Conflict
First of all, at the outset, let me say that I have some sympathy for the Trump supporters regarding their perspective on this conflict. I hold the position that regardless of who the rally is for, those who come to hear the candidate should be able to do so without people interrupting him or her.
There are fair opportunities for demonstrators from the full spectrum of opinions to put forth their views as people file into the site of the rally and when people leave. As long as this is done peacefully and without interfering with the flow of people into and out of the site, this seems consistent with principles of free speech, which is something I personally treasure.
Once in the arena, I believe the candidate should be treated civilly. Interrupting the candidate’s speech is not in the interest of the supporters who took the time to get to the site, nor is it in the interest of the interrupters.
Interrupters, by their actions, will only succeed in hardening the positions of the supporters who tend to become infuriated at such interruptions.
Now, when I began to think about how this conflict can best be resolved from the perspective of Trump and his supporters, the first thing I thought about is that this is a common conflict that candidate supporters have been facing for years. Apparently, the best minds in professional arena security personnel and law enforcement have designed a process to deal with these types of situations. The process varies slightly from place to place, but basically it goes like this:
Typically, whenever someone begins to create a disruption, security officials hustle over and firmly inform the interrupter that if he or she continues to do anything that seeks to disrupt the speaker, he or she will be ushered out of the rally site. This usually takes a few seconds and is sufficient in most cases to settle things down.
If not, several additional security officials are called for. When they arrive, they now are an overwhelming presence and are well trained to handle aggressive conduct.
The disrupter is then told, “You have a choice, either agree to be ushered out of the rally site with us, or law enforcement will be summoned. If law enforcement is summoned, you will be placed in handcuffs, arrested, charged with disturbing the peace, taken to the police station, and you could end up facing a fine and/or imprisonment. Moreover, once law officers arrive, any effort that you make to avoid the law officers’ arrest will lead to the far more serious charge of resisting arrest. So, those are your options–either you now come peacefully with us as we usher you out of here, or deal with law enforcement. We recommend coming with us. Let’s go.” Then the security officials firmly, but not violently, lead the interrupter away.
This message to the interrupter takes less than one minute and in the vast majority of incidents it is sufficient to peacefully resolve this type of situation. In my opinion, Mr. Trump is not doing security any favors when, during this process, he begins to taunt the disrupter.
The effective use of the technique I just described works best when the disrupter is in a state that he or she can think somewhat reasonably. Mr. Trump’s baiting the disrupter while the process is going on increases the probability of igniting rage within the interrupter, and the probability of violence goes up. Even well trained security personnel can become injured dealing with this, and the whole process can take far more time to resolve.
Moreover, Mr. Trump’s actions tend to drum up rage against the interrupter, and as we saw in one incident, this led to a Trump supporter sucker punching someone. Now law enforcement has to deal with this incident at considerable cost to taxpayers. Finally, the rage that is produced at the rally, when witnessed on TV leads to increased rage of others who oppose Mr. Trump’s candidacy, and thus they begin to show up to subsequent rallies seeking to create a commotion. We saw this happening on March 11, 2016 in Chicago shortly after Trump’s taunting was televised. Trump supporters and protesters clashed so viciously that the event had to be cancelled. Then, the next day, at another rally, this one in Vandalia, Ohio, a furious man jumped a barrier and rushed the stage. No one was hurt, but Mr. Trump was obviously shaken up from the incident, sweating profusely. Since then, he has been more vocal about not supporting violence. I hope he has learned to let security and law enforcement do their job without interfering by wildly throwing out taunts.
Some people will enjoy reading this blog by beginning with the first post and then moving forward to the next more recent one; then to the next one; and so on. This permits readers to catch up on some ideas that were presented earlier and to move through all of the ideas in a systematic fashion to develop their emotional intelligence. To begin at the very first post you can click HERE.