Monday, November 21, 2011

Legal Protests v. Illegal Protests

On Facebook, I saw an FB friend's link, 25 Reasons Why Police Officers Never Showed Up To Tea Party Rallies.  It's a bunch of pictures of Tea Partiers bringing guns to their rallies, with the idea that the Occupy Protesters maybe should pack heat if they don't want to be harassed.  And, uh, no.  That would be a terrible idea.  Simply terrible.

Because the thing is, there's another reason why the Tea Partiers didn't get in trouble with the law: They didn't do anything illegal.  That's really one of those basic things they teach in Civics class, though I suppose some people might need a refresher.  So just to be clear: If you do something illegal, you might get in trouble with the police.  And if you don't want to get in trouble with the police, you shouldn't do anything illegal.  That's not difficult.

Now, it can be argued that the police have no right to prevent the protesters from doing anything they want.  It can be argued that the protesters are serving a righteous cause and represent the will of the people, and therefore are a law unto themselves.  I myself find that to be atrociously naive, to put it mildly,  but I've argued with people making such a case and don't at all doubt their sincerity.

But the thing remains that Occupy Protesters keep breaking the law and pushing the system, and the Tea Partiers didn't.  And that's the real difference.  And if the Tea Partiers showed up with guns and started blocking streets, violating park curfews, using public places without permits, trespassing into private and government buildings, and camping in public places for months; those stories would surely have ended a lot more violently.  And if anything, I daresay the guns would have made these stories end much more violently than without.

Again, this isn't to argue necessarily that the protesters are wrong by engaging in illicit behavior.  Nor is it to justify the excessive violence used against them by police.  It's simply to point out that the Tea Partiers didn't break the law and the Occupy Protesters are.  That's the difference.  And so we don't need to get into conspiracy theories about them targeting the Occupy Protesters as their way of keeping us down; nor do we need anyone bringing guns to an Occupy protest to prove the theory in the post.  Because there's a more obvious reason.

And hey, if you don't want to be harassed by cops while rallying, have the regular kind.  Have the ones the Tea Partiers had.  They weren't terribly effective, but nobody got hurt.  At least not by the police, anyway.  So if you don't want to be harassed by the cops and potentially hurt, have a regular protest and not the pushing-the-envelope kind.  But if you want to push the envelope, don't be surprised when the envelope pushes back.  That's life.

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