January 28, 2013

The discussion about the man in the tree at President Obama’s inauguration [“Judge bans inauguration protester from city,” Metro, Jan. 23] seemed to be mostly limited to his right of free speech vs. the health of the tree and possibly those around it. But I believe the more important issue is that Rives Miller Grogan’s nonstop tirade damaged one of democracy’s most important occasions for at least a thousand of us who were his captive audience. Even 200 feet away from Mr. Grogan, I missed much of what was said during the ceremony because I couldn’t hear over his screaming.

Forcefully expressing an opinion isn’t wrong, but making a career out of interfering with fellow citizens’ rights to peacefully assemble to participate in the other side of free speech — listening — is wrong, and the legal repercussions should reflect that.

John Kircher, Washington