November 20, 2011

So you think you can protest?

So, my Facebook, Google +, and Tumblr are filled with photos with messages like this right now:



And it pisses me off. Why? Not because I have some connection with the Westboro Baptist Church  (in fact I loathe them for giving non-extremist Christians, and others,  a bad rep.) but because people who are posting and agreeing with these pictures are being idiots.

Here's what I know. The WBC is very good at what it does. They have been doing it for years. Years! And yes the text in the pictures is correct...you won't see WBC getting tear gassed at their protests. Want to know why?  THEY FOLLOW THE LAW!  That's right. They set up their protests with the local cops. They occupy the spaces allowed for them only during the hours assigned to them. They don't touch others, they don't camp, and if a cop tells them to move....they do.

Your right to protest and your right to free speech are only yours when you are following all laws. You can't pick and choose which ones you want to follow.

Sure your protest might be peaceful, but if it is held in a city park that has posted closing hours and you stay later..........or if the city has an ordinance about no camping on public sidewalks, yet some of your protesters take naps........you are breaking a law. The police are within their rights to do something to correct the situation. Don't misunderstand, tear gassing a group of peaceful sit-in protesters is extreme and uncalled for. However, if the really story is out there somewhere, I bet it also tells of how the city has laws that the protesters are somehow violating.

I hate the internet pictures that get passed around like wildfire and just make those who are protesting something worthy look like idiots. Don't pass that stuff around. Be smart. Know the laws, get them on your side. The easiest way to win a fight with the law is show those in command that the law actually does include you.



***edit***

The same thoughts apply to the Facebook status posting of :

So the US Supreme Court has ruled that you have the right to protest military funerals. I invite you to start your protest in my front yard. We can see if your 1st Amendment rights are better than my 2nd Amendment rights. Re-post if you're a vet, love a vet, or just support vets...
I can guarantee that if this was actually to occur, you would be charged with homicide. Want to know why? You invited someone onto your property. You have given permission. If you then turn around and shoot those who are on your property with your permission.....homicide. Somehow I think murder trumps protesting in the hierarchy of law breaking.

3 comments:

fleur said...

So, while I see your point, and even sort of agree with it, I am frustrated by the fact that if they enforced bank regulation like they apparently do park rules, we wouldn't be in this mess in the first place... as with your murder example, there is (or should be) a hierarchy of the severity of law and consequence that seems to be lacking in these situations.

skip 2 colorado said...

I believe it's naive to think that all the protesters who are on the receiving end of police violence are law-breakers. It's a world of gray areas, and sometimes, the guys getting pepper sprayed are not breaking the law, nor are they the 'bad guys'. Think back over the history of civil disobedience-many wrongs would have never been corrected if not for the act of civil disobedience. You'd not have the right to vote, for one, if not for some brave women who broke the law. I'd think a little about the civil rights movement; the United Farm Workers,and Kent State for a little perspective. I personally am glad to see acts of ugliness(like the Westboro bigots) made public- sunshine is the best disinfectant. I also think that sharing their hateful acts has given the rest of us a gift; bringing together gay rights supporters, military families, and biker groups-unlikely to come together otherwise- who have united in support to protect military families from the Phelps' special brand of ugliness. And since you asked, I'm married to a veteran.
As far as the point about murder trumping protests...a nice sentiment, but far from reality- as the Trayvon Martin case demonstrates. He was followed, shot and killed, and as of today, no charges filed against the gunman. Laws? Cops? Not always black and white.

Mandy said...

I realize this is not a black and white issue. And at its roots I have no problems with civil disobedience for the sake of change. And I do understand that sometimes violence needs to occur. However, this post was not about that. Perhaps I wasn't clear. It was about the stupid memes that go around facebook and the like that demean what actual protesters are doing. People pass those memes along without thought. Just posting a badge, poster, joke...does nothing to further the cause and in fact, I'd argue that it undermines it....turning any valuable actions into a joke. That is what I meant to express.