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Comments

chris

Couldn't agree more!

George

Couldn't agree less. Those who agree are usually those without a job or affected by the disruptions.

Protesters have no more right to impose themselves upon others then the U.S. politicians and military have a right to impose themselves upon other countries.

Nurse Ingrid

Just think, George, if the colonists had your attitude during the American Revolution, we could all be British subjects right now.

Greta Christina

To follow up on what Nurse Ingrid said: And if it weren't for civil disobedience organized by Martin Luther King and others, we'd still have Jim Crow laws. If it weren't for the labor movement's strikes and street demonstrations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, we'd still have 18 hour work days, no worker safety regulations, and child labor in the factories. If it weren't for the civil disobedience of the suffragist movement, women still wouldn't have the vote. Etc.

"Those who agree are usually those without a job or affected by the disruptions."

That is simply and flatly not true. I think you may have missed the point I made about the UPS strikes. Many people -- including myself -- were seriously inconvenienced by that strike (I worked for a small mail-order company, and we had to completely restructure our way of doing business)... and yet we supported the strikers 100%.

And are you really saying that a street demonstration that blocks traffic for half an hour is equivalent to the military invasion of another country?

John McPherson

This is an ends justifies the means arguement. You were very selective in your causes where you supported disruptive (read violent - because using force for coercion, even if you don't physically injure anyone, is violence by definition) protests.

Currently there are religious weirdos in Virginia who are making your arguement. That if they don't obnoxiously protest at the funerals of dead soldiers, then their "anti-fag" position won't be heard. Do you support their protest methodology?

Black homes were targetted by bigots with racist graffiti and psychological intimidation. That was the only way they could get results ("getting the niggers out of the neighborhood"). Do you support their protest methodology?

As for Revolutions (and the American Revolution was not a "protest", it was a war), we were extremely fortunate in the outcome of ours. Most revolutions end with horrible regimes perpetrating the worst acts in the name of governance.

You cite Ghandi - but I notice you ignore the bloodbath that came in the wake of his removal of the British. Millions of dead were a direct consequence because the transition process was too rapid and the core issues had not been worked out prior to transition. Why was this transition so rapid? Because of the pressure being applied by "disruptive protest".

How about the French Revolution - brought on by "disruptive protest" which gave France a vicious bloodbath and then gave the world Napoleon Bonaparte.

Your right to protest ends where my right to walk down the street begins. UNLESS you want to argue that my right to conduct disruptive protests in support of causes you find loathesome is fully acceptable to you. Do you support the right of the KKK to conduct "disruptive protest" (i.e., those that will work - because non-disruptive protests won't work)? Because if you don't - then you're just a hypocrite. The methodologies you embrace for your causes had better be acceptable to you when conservatives apply them.

Greta Christina
Currently there are religious weirdos in Virginia who are making your arguement. That if they don't obnoxiously protest at the funerals of dead soldiers, then their "anti-fag" position won't be heard. Do you support their protest methodology?
Do you support the right of the KKK to conduct "disruptive protest" (i.e., those that will work - because non-disruptive protests won't work)?

As a matter of fact -- yes. I do support them. Or rather, I support their right to protest is a way that is disruptive and upsetting. I have written an entire piece defending Fred Phelps' right to protest at the funerals of dead soldiers: Free Speech for Evil, Hateful, Repulsive Nutjobs? You Betcha!

The right to free speech is a basic right, and whether the content of the speech is upsetting is utterly irrelevant. In fact, the whole point of the right to free speech is that it protects speech that people find upsetting. As has often been said: We don't need the First Amendment to protect people's right to express the view that puppies are cute and apple pie is delicious.

John McPherson

Well Greta, here is where you and I would intellectually part company. The right to free speech is not, and never was, an unconstrained right.

You don't have the right to go into a courtroom while a trial is ongoing and shout down the judge so that the process can not proceed.

You don't have the right to make threatening speech or speech which incites violence.

Nor should you. The right to freedom of expression, like all basic rights, does have constraints. I disagree with the court ruling which says that Phelps' protest is protected speech. The right of grieving parents to lay their child to rest in a dignified manner exceeds Phelps' right to obnoxious speech. He can still enjoy that obnoxious speech - but not at someone elses costs.

I also noted in your reply you did not mention the extremely negative potential impacts of "disruptive protest" (In Thailand right now where I live we have disruptive protest that is threatening to destroy the civil fabric and start a civil war).

Do you support elements of the Animal Liberation Front who destroy property and free live stock in the name of their causes - in some cases financially destroying the lives of their targets while doing so?

How about Timothy McVeighs "Disruptive Protest". He was quite right that short of an extreme act, nobody was going to listen to him.

Disruptive protest is nothing more than one group imposing its will on other groups in the name of causes they espouse through violence. Sometimes that violence is directed at infrastructure. Sometimes it is directed at persons. But the intent is the same - to raise the pain level to a point where the target audience changes it's behavior. And it's not legitimate.

Greta Christina
The right to free speech is not, and never was, an unconstrained right.

I never said that it was. And I never endorsed violence as a legitimate form of protest. I understand that there is a line between valid protest, however disruptive, and protest that seriously infringes on other people. And I understand that this line is not always easy to draw. But blocking traffic -- which is what this piece addresses -- seems clearly on the acceptable side of that line. Especially since so many non-political activities that also block traffic are accepted with little objection.

As to the Fred Phelps protests at soldiers' funerals: You apparently missed the part of my piece about that which pointed out that the protest he was sued for was so un-disruptive that the plaintiff in the case didn't even know it was happening until he read about it in the paper the next day.

If you can't be bothered to actually read what I write, and if you persist in asking me to defend positions that I have not expressed and do not hold, I am not going to waste any more time debating with you. Your concern is duly noted. Thank you for sharing.

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