Like many, I have watched the recent protesters in a mixture of disgust and confusion. Not just the anti-Trump protests (although those are fresh in
my mind), but many protests throughout the years. Anti-Trump, Occupy Wall Street, the Vietnam War, Civil Rights... many, many protests. Some I agreed
with; others I did not. But some I considered disgusting displays of immaturity and ignorance.
That got me to thinking. What was the difference? What was it that made me so disgusted at some, accepting of others, and in agreement with still
others. I think I understand that difference now, and I present it here.
There is no right to protest.
Nowhere in the US Constitution is there an enumerated right to walk the streets with signs chanting slogans. But
there are related rights. We have the right to peaceful assembly and the right to freedom of speech. Combined, those give us our right to protest, if
that protest us an organized effort to get many to combine their freedom of speech to be heard more effectively. But, those basic rights have limits.
The right to free speech does not cover yelling "FIRE!" In a crowded theater. The right to peaceful assembly does not include the right to block an
ambulance. So, since there are restrictions on the rights to free speech and peaceful assembly, there are even greater restrictions on the 'right' to
combine the two into protest. Any protest, in order to be considered a right, must comply with the restrictions on all the rights involved to make it
legal and proper.
Protest, if it involves commission of a crime not protected by basic enumerated rights, is not protected. As soon as someone breaks a car window or
commits a similar crime, they become criminals. There is no right to break a law, unless the law itself is illegal.
Why are you protesting?
It should be obvious that in order for a protest to be successful, there has to be something positive accomplished.
There has to be a goal in order to achieve a goal. Without fail, all of the protests that have made a difference have had a realistic goal. The Civil
Rights protests, for example, had goals concerning equality. The protesters wanted integration in schools, or equal access to jobs, or equal
consideration under the law. These were specific goals and were reasonable. Those who protested the Vietnam War wanted an end to hostilities against a
country not attacking the United States directly, a specific and reasonable goal. Those who protested for Gay Marriage wanted recognition of marriage
vows they consider proper, specific and reasonable. The protests for Women Suffrage demanded the right for women to vote, again, specific and
reasonable. Those protests may not have been agreeable to everyone who saw them, but they were legitimate and successful in the end.
In contrast, the Black Lives Matter movement may have a reasonable goal (stop killing black folk) but the unconditional nature is not reasonable. If
someone is trying to kill a police officer, that officer may have no choice but to kill them first, regardless of skin color. In addition, it sets the
entire community against itself, as black-on-black violence us worse than white-on-black violence. Thus, it has been rejected by the population at
large. The Occupy Wall Street movement had no specific goal at all... it was just a group of angry people with no specific goal other than to prove
they were angry. The few goals that were expressed (I distinctly remember one protester demanding paychecks for the unemployed without considering who
would write them) were not widely agreed on by the entire movement and were unreasonable. Occupy Wall Street accomplished nothing. Likewise, the
anti-Trump protests had a goal that was barely defined (stop Trump. From what exactly?) and unreasonable (remove a President without cause). It will
fail as well.
A protest cannot succeed without support.
The true rulers of the United States are the people. Thus, for a protest to serve any useful purpose,
it must be geared toward garnering the sympathy and support of others. The Civil Rights protests did this: by exposing whites to the injustices
suffered by blacks, and by portraying themselves as intelligent equals (thank you Dr. King), whites became convinced of the veracity of the claims and
the fairness of the demands. Likewise, Womens Suffrage caught the attention of the public and focused it on an injustice. The Vietnam War protests
were hampered by angry mobs disrespecting soldiers, and while they eventually succeeded, it took longer because of this. The Gay Marriage protests
were mired with exhibitions that offended many others as well as vicious vengeful rhetoric, and their success is still not completely assured because
Black Lives Matter has been plagued with examples of racism from the supporters and destructive acts. So, too have the protests against Trump. While
it is true that these acts are committed by a minority of the protesters, these acts are committed in tandem with the protests and are distasteful to
others. Thus, they destroy the chances that others will respond favorably to the protests and work against the goal of changing public opinion in
support of the associated causes.
Those are my thoughts on protesting in general, and as a member of the public, the true power behind society, I believe they are valid.
What does ATS think?
edit on 1/22/2017 by TheRedneck because: (no reason given)