When the White House announced that President Donald Trump would travel to Tuscaloosa last week to attend the Alabama-LSU game at Bryant-Denny stadium, protesters wasted little time in setting up a GoFundMe crowdfunding page to raise the cost of bringing the Baby Trump balloon to the Capstone. Within a day, the campaign raised $5,675, well beyond the $4,000 cost to bring to balloon to town.
People around the state posited that the balloon lampooning the president in an unflattering matter might get shot out of the sky in Alabama, where the president enjoys high approval numbers.
So it came as no surprise when Hoyt Hutchinson crept up on the balloon and slashed it with a blade and was later charged with first-degree criminal mischief. He then set up his own GoFundMe campaign for legal expenses, and it has generated close to $50,000.
The organization that owns the balloon cried foul, and has asked GoFundMe to shut down Hutchinson’s campaign.
“If people can use GoFundMe to finance acts of hate and violence, the company will set a dangerous precedent, and the risk of copycat crimes will put peaceful protesters in harm’s way,” said Goutam Jois, attorney for People’s Motorcade.
That’s ironic. Many of the president’s supporters view the satirical Baby Trump as an expression of hate. The only difference between the political speech expressed by the People’s Motorcade and that expressed by Hutchinson is that the latter’s act violates the law.
Although we believe slashing the balloon crossed the line when it comes to peacefully protesting its display, Hutchinson isn’t the first person to crowdfund legal fees, and he won’t be the last. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.