a reply to: TrueBrit
You are correct that one criminal in a crowd does not indict the crowd itself, but the goal of a protest is not to simply avoid being a criminal, is
it? That would make no sense, for that goal could be more certainly and easily accomplished by staying at home.
No, the goal is to effect desired social change. The vehicle used to effect that change is public perception. One criminal in a crowd of peaceful
protesters will turn public perception negative, since that one criminal will garner police attention and thus media attention.
Were I engaged in a protest against, say, anti-smoking regulations, and I saw another protester setting fires, that does not make me an arsonist. But
it does damage my public perception, and I would work to stop that other protester from doing so. Allowing their actions is self-defeating; no one
will hear my message over their louder message of destruction. It is thus the responsibility of protesters to police themselves.
As to ousting of leaders...
All governing bodies exist via laws, and it is in any such body's best interests to have laws which protect it. It is not reasonable to expect any
governing body to allow for its own demise. I'm not even sure I would want to be led by a government which is, in effect, suicidal. If there is any
good and proper function of a government, it is to provide stability. Suicide is not stability.
But I do agree that it is the right of the people to choose their leaders and that right must include the right to overthrow those leaders if
necessary. I just do not agree that such can be a legal right. We are back again to the difference between protest and revolution. A protest is a
legal attempt to execute specific changes to an existing government; a revolution is a complete change in government. The former can be accomplished
within an existing framework; the latter by definition destroys existing frameworks of society in order to replace them.
Revolutions can begin with protests, but they are not protests, as surely as hurricanes can spawn tornadoes, but are not tornadoes themselves.
Both are a messy business. Both require extreme sacrifice by those involved. Both are essentially intended to be last resorts, revolution even more so
than protests. Last resorts cannot be legally authorized, because to do so implies that revolution cannot happen unless the present government permits
it... an oxymoron.
That is the beauty, IMO, of our Bill of Rights. They do not grant the right to revolution, or even explicitly the right to protest. But they do
protect those rights, by ensuring the right to peaceful assembly, the right to free speech, and in the case of revolution, the right to keep and bear
arms. By enumerating these basic rights, they protect those which cannot logically be enumerated: the right to protest and, if needed, the right to