The Supreme Court's Failure To Protect The Right To Assemble Has Led Directly To Violence Against Protesters

from the SCOTUS:-you-get-what-the-government-gives-you dept

It appears the Supreme Court is unwilling to address a another problem it created.

The first major problem created by the Court has been discussed here quite frequently. Qualified immunity was created by the Supreme Court in 1967 as a way to excuse rash decisions by law enforcement if undertaken in "good faith." Since then, it has only gotten worse. Fifteen years later, the Supreme Court added another factor: a violation of rights must be "clearly established" as a violation before a public servant can be held accountable for violating the right. Further decisions moved courts away from determining whether or not a rights violation took place, relying instead on steadily-decreasing precedent showing this violation was "clearly established."

The Supreme Court continues to dodge qualified immunity cases that might make it rethink the leeway it has granted to abusive cops. Plenty of people have taken note of this, including federal court judges.

But that's not the only way the general public is being screwed by SCOTUS. As Kia Rahnama points out for Politico, the right to freely assemble -- long-considered an integral part of the First Amendment -- continues to be narrowed by the nation's top court. As violence against demonstrators increases in response to ongoing protests over abusive policing (enabled by qualified immunity's mission creep), those participating in the violence feel pretty secure in the fact they'll never have to answer for the rights violations.

For more than 30 years, the Supreme Court has failed to take up a freedom-of-assembly case. As a result, this fundamental constitutional right is in sore need of an update, such as a ruling that would protect protesters from the unduly harsh police response that has become all too common as a response to demonstrations in recent years.

It's not that freedom of assembly is novel -- something newly-constructed by court rulings. It's been around since the creation of the Constitution. The founders recognized the fact a group of aligned people had more chance of effecting change than separate individuals. But, as Rahnama points out, the Supreme Court has not taken up a case involving freedom of assembly in more than fifty years, allowing this right to be subject to decisions more than century old that limited speech in favor of protecting companies from their employees.

The Supreme Court shirked this responsibility first by holding that the right to assembly did not protect anything like the right to protest in the streets, beginning with a formative ruling in 1886. At the time, labor unrest and revolt were widespread, and many state governments were passing laws aimed at preventing potential insurrections by workers’ organizations.

The court said that if groups of people wanted to seek redress for their grievances, they were welcome to form political groups or engage in lobbying. The right to protest went from "established" to "only in some cases."

It's not that the court doesn't recognize the chilling effect created by government actions taken against speech and speakers they don't care for. It does. But it has refused to apply this theory to excessive force and overbearing crowd control tactics that are far more violent than they need to be.

The courts’ failure to update Americans’ understanding of the freedom of assembly has given law enforcement free rein to deploy strategies that increasingly have the potential to deter future participation in protests. This is nowhere more evident than in the type of the cases that make their way to the courts. Whereas 10 years ago the courts had to decide whether NYPD’s use of mounted police that frequently stepped on protesters’ feet was objectionable (they decided that it was not), today they hear cases about armies of special forces equipped with riot gear, chemical weapons and other top-level military-grade weaponry. Every step of this transformation in policing crowds has been fueled by the courts’ refusal to rein in the proclivity for an increasingly stronger show of force.

The fewer cases the court is willing to hear, the less precedent there is preventing law enforcement from engaging in violence against protesters, whether it's the indiscriminate use of tear gas or the direct targeting of protesters with "non-lethal" munitions that still have the capability to seriously injure.

The court has spent years refusing to rein this in. The end result of its inactivity is being observed around the nation as protests are greeted with paramilitary shows of force. By the time the court gets around to addressing this, it will be too late for those on the receiving end of this violence. No right to be free from tear-gassing and rubber bullets will have been clearly established.

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: 1st amendment, protests, right to assemble, supreme court


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2020 @ 10:07am

    It works both ways. The protesters must not engage in violence either. Don't bring bricks or firebombs to a peaceful protest.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2020 @ 10:21am

      Re:

      Do a few violent infiltrators from the right justify violence against all the protestors?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2020 @ 10:23am

      Re:

      We've had more than a century of protests. History has shown that the side that wields violence can dictate terms.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Paul B, 21 Aug 2020 @ 8:46pm

        Re: Re:

        History shows that any protest that grows large enough that the members do not know each other directly will have both opportunistic and political agitators who join for their own reasons. Some want to burn stuff down and really don't care, others want to create cause for giving law enforcement the ability to use crowd control means.

        Courts have ruled that the protest organiser is not responsible for agitators after a few battles where they tried to arrest the leader for the actions of a few dumb asses who got caught on tape. As for law enforcement who pretend to be protestors, very little has ever been done even when this was caught on tape.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2020 @ 10:27am

      Re:

      In America we're only allowed to carry weapons if they're firearms of course.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 10:32am

        Yeah, I seem to recall a rather infamous “protest” against COVID restrictions where a bunch of people open carrying firearms stormed a state capitol with the intent to intimidate lawmakers. I assume nobody got arrested for that because no property got “hurt” in the process.

        Another factor could be in play as well, but I can’t qwhite put my finger on what it might be… 🤔

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2020 @ 11:11am

          Re:

          In how many businesses were burned down?

          How many people were killed?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 11:28am

            Yes-or-no question: Do you have an issue with protesters (regardless of political affiliation/ideology) carrying firearms during protests on public property in cities that allow for open carry?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2020 @ 12:24pm

              Re:

              As long as they are obeying the law, sure.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2020 @ 1:17pm

                Re: Re:

                Don't bring bricks or firebombs to a peaceful protest.

                But what about their second amendment rights? Certainly a brick or firebomb could be considered "arms" inasmuch as an AK-47 could, no?

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  That One Guy (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 1:24pm

                  Re: Re: Re:

                  'You're allowed to open carry an AK-47 but a brick is right out' does seem rather inconsistent, yes.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anon E Mouse, 21 Aug 2020 @ 6:44pm

                  Re: Re: Re:

                  Trying to conflate "carrying" with "using" isn't very honest of you.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 7:00pm

                    Except it isn't. If someone brings a brick to a protest but doesn’t use it, is that better or worse than someone bringing an AK-47 to a protest?

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    That One Guy (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 7:41pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Assume the worst, that the person with the brick actually used it and lobbed it towards a heavily armored cop or even one in plainclothes, then compare that to the blatantly obvious intimidation tactic of showing up openly armed at a state capital among such charming slogans as 'Tyrants get the rope' and one of those comes out looking much worse, and it's not the brick one.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 24 Aug 2020 @ 5:58am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Well, if carrying it assumes you're going to use it then the same applies to the AK-47, no?

                    Nice try.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Toom1275 (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 7:36pm

            Re: Re:

            How many people were killed?
            Over 100,000 and counting.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 10:28am

      The protesters must not engage in violence either.

      If protesters must use violence as a “last resort” defense of self or others, does that choice justify police brutality for those who make that choice?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2020 @ 12:24pm

        Re:

        LOL. Hard to justify burning cars and buildings, regardless of the circumstance.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 12:28pm

          Which is why I’m not.

          If protesters must use violence as a “last resort” defense of self or others, does that choice justify police brutality for those who make that choice?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 3:42pm

          Burning cars and buildings

          If your protestors are rioting, e.g. burning cars and buildings it generally means they have run out of alternative ways to petition the state for redress of grievances.

          One or two vandals in a protest are some bad actors. But enough people to loot stores, burn precincts and trash cars is symptomatic of a high level of discontent, usually by people who've been so sorely stripped of rights and property they have literally nothing left to lose.

          The next step after that is suicide bombers in the middle of crowded public areas. That said, most COIN experts point out that if hearts and minds stay angry for that long, maybe the problem is in governance.

          Of course, here in the states in twenty-first century, the police are keen to get the party started, introducing tear gas and rubber bullets in anticipation of appreciable violence. Ever since Ferguson, it's clear the thin blue line is hot for a chance to bring on the hurt.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        icon
        asscombinator (profile), 22 Aug 2020 @ 10:09pm

        Re:

        that's not the issue. even protesters are still blocking roadways preventing people from getting places.

        you're allowed to protest. you're not allowed to protest any time anywhere, especially when your cause stomps over my right to get home from work on a road with a green light. let's also not pretend that while church choires and other gatherings over 50 during a pandemic were illegal, the protesters blocking roads and leaving garbage everywhere are fine.

        they're told to dispurse, after breaking the law, to benefit the people who work and live in that neighborhood. they refuse. it is then up to us, the people, to remove them by force. screw the corrupt cops, but the protesters are worse.

        yes, police brutality against them is justified, and it's time for cops to use real bullets when it gets violent. when it's peaceful, physical clearing of blocked roads via arrest, rubber bullets, and tear gas is more appropriate.

        the peaceful protesters in chicago a few days ago rented uhauls for their looting. when it started months ago and was actually peaceful, it took me 5 hours for the 20min ride home.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 23 Aug 2020 @ 1:09am

          Re: Re:

          I see that you are prepared to use and support violence against anybody who inconveniences you. Do you also advocate violence against those whose politics you disagree with?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 23 Aug 2020 @ 5:45am

            Re: Re: Re:

            These guys think that Judge Dredd is something to be aspired to rather than a satire of how ridiculous they are.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              That One Guy (profile), 23 Aug 2020 @ 7:25am

              Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Well, half of Judge Dredd anyway, the 'able to kill someone on the spot', the 'absolute dedication to the law' half isn't nearly as attractive or fun.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 23 Aug 2020 @ 7:39am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                I'd argue that half of Dredd's satire was that he adhered to what he thought was the law, rather than actual justice - he had no problem killing jaywalkers, for example. That's why it was a problem in the narrative - no proportion to "justice". Just deadly retribution no matter the abject poverty that caused the reaction.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 23 Aug 2020 @ 11:35am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Judge Dredd was a satire of the American police being judge, jury and executioner along with ridiculous sentences for misdemeanours. (from a largely British point of view)

                  It was also first released in the late 70's so if the police were worthy of parody back then, they certainly have not got any better over the next 40+ years.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 23 Aug 2020 @ 1:18am

          Inconvenient Protests

          Yeah, it'd be totally nice if all protests took place during normal hours, stayed out of everyone's way and in the First Amendment Zone.

          But then it's not a protest. It's a party. Protests are going to be inconvenient. The point is, they have a grievance and since the state isn't redressing it, the social contract isn't being fulfilled. Getting in the way of everyone else is the point. If you are enjoying the society that allows for them to suffer, it's only right and proper that you are inconvenienced by the protest.

          If you want to do something about it, help them get what they need. I suspect it's not unreasonable. But you have no right to go on with your life while they suffer, especially if you thrive of the society that has forsaken them.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 23 Aug 2020 @ 4:02am

          the peaceful protesters in chicago a few days ago rented uhauls for their looting.

          Sir, you can’t believe everything you read on Breitbart. Like the fact that they claim to be an outlet for journalism.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 23 Aug 2020 @ 5:43am

          Re: Re:

          "you're allowed to protest. you're not allowed to protest any time anywhere, especially when your cause stomps over my right to get home from work on a road with a green light"

          That is one messed up set of priorities. Those uppity people should just accept being murdered if them complaining interferes with your commute?

          "it's time for cops to use real bullets when it gets violent"

          Yoiu do know that's what started the protests in the first place, right?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      sumquy, 21 Aug 2020 @ 12:08pm

      Re:

      fuck that. no justice, no peace.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 3:44pm

      "Bricks or firebombs"

      Right now the armaments of choice are leaf-blowers, umbrellas and traffic cones. Also milk.

      Because the protestors are not the ones bringing all the tear gas.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 8:57pm

      Re:

      "The protesters must not engage in violence either."

      That's the problem. A lot of these protesters don't engage in violence, but they get treated the same as if they did, escalating things. The "wall of moms" in Portland stood there singing and they still got rubber bullets and tear gas.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Nathan Harding, 21 Aug 2020 @ 10:09am

    Not the right to assemble, its the right to peacefully assembly

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 10:25am

      As similarly asked above: Do a few violent infiltrators justify violence against all peaceful protestors?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 10:30am

        Re:

        The AC below beat me to it looks like, the response to their argument would be 'be careful of the standard you use lest it be turned against you'.

        If a few violent protesters justifies violence against all of them then 'a few' violent cops would justify violence against them, making any such protests simply returning the favor and therefore justified, something i rather doubt they'd be fine with even if it's simply using their own argument against them.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2020 @ 10:26am

      Re: Not the right to assemble, its the right to peacefully assem

      So, cops should stop veing violent in large groups, yeah?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2020 @ 10:31am

      Re: Not the right to assemble, its the right to peacefully assem

      Came here to post exactly the same thing. You can't have assembly protected if even one person in that crowd is being violent or destructive. That invalidates the whole assembly. If you can't trust everyone you are marching with, you are marching with the wrong people. The cities that are seeing the violence are perpetuating it by not charging those caught being violent. I can't wait until Martial Law is declared and the cities that are fomenting revolution have their autonomy taken away.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 10:35am

        'No no, one person in Trump's rally was violent so they all are.

        A position I'm sure you will absolutely stick to should someone decide to show up at rallies or protests that you agree with and decide to be violent, whether because that's just the kind of person they are or to sabotage the rally/protest itself.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2020 @ 12:25pm

          Re: 'No no, one person in Trump's rally was violent so they all

          Absolutely. Violence is not justifiable, regardless of political affiliation.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 12:52pm

            Violence is not justifiable

            Even if the violence is in defense of self or others?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 1:21pm

            Re: Re: 'No no, one person in Trump's rally was violent so they

            Yeah, that's kinda why people are pissed, in that for many, many years it has been considered absolutely justifiable so long as the one engaging in the violence had a badge.

            Also that comment seems to be aimed at something other than what I said/responded to, so just to be clear as you are responded to my comment are you agreeing that if one person showed up at a Trump rally/protest and became violent, whether due to just being a thug or because they opposed the rally/protest and wanted to undermine it that would mean that everyone there becomes guilty by association?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 8:59pm

            Re: Re: 'No no, one person in Trump's rally was violent so they

            "Violence is not justifiable, regardless of political affiliation."

            You do understand that's why people are protesting against it in the first lace, right?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 10:48am

        If you can't trust everyone you are marching with, you are marching with the wrong people.

        What happens if you do trust everyone, but one of those people turns out to be an agitator — possibly even an undercover cop — who worked to expicitly gain your trust so they could join the protest without question and incite violence during said protest?

        The cities that are seeing the violence are perpetuating it by not charging those caught being violent.

        Oh, so cities like [checks notes] Lansing, Michigan, then? (And if you think carrying rifles into a state capitol isn’t “violent” only because nobody got shot, I hope you have no problem with peaceful protesters in “leftist” cities also carrying firearms during protests.)

        I can't wait until Martial Law is declared and the cities that are fomenting revolution have their autonomy taken away.

        So I guess that means you’ll want the military in cities like [checks notes] Redding, California, where, during a recent community meeting in regards to county-level COVID restrictions, someone literally warned government officials about a organized violent revolution:

        Right now, we’re being peaceful, and you better be happy that we’re good citizens, that we’re peaceful citizens, but it’s not going to be peaceful much longer, OK? And this isn’t a threat, I’m not a criminal, but I’m telling you: Good citizens are going to turn into concerned and revolutionary citizens real soon, and nobody else is going to say that. I’m probably the only person who has the balls to say what I’m saying right now. And we’re building, we’re organizing, and we’ll work with law enforcement or without law enforcement, but you won’t stop us when the time comes, because our families are starving. This is a warning for what’s coming. It’s not going to be peaceful much longer. It’s not going to be rah-rah, it’s not going to be speeches, it’s not going to be gathering outside saying the Pledge of allegiance. It’s not going to be waving flags. It’s gonna be real. When you see the things I’ve seen — I went to war for this country. I’ve seen the ugliest, dirtiest part of humanity. I’ve been in combat, and I never want to go back again, but I’m telling you what, I will to save this country. If it has to be against our own citizens, it will happen, and there’s a million people like me, and you won’t stop us.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2020 @ 11:01am

        Re: Re: Not the right to assemble, its the right to peacefully a

        You can't have assembly protected if even one person in that crowd is being violent or destructive.

        And just how do protestors stop a person like you initiating violence when a protest is being held on public streets?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2020 @ 11:52am

        Re: Re: Not the right to assemble, its the right to peacefully a

        FTFY... Came here to post exactly the same thing. You can't have assembly protected if even one cop in that crowd is being violent or destructive. That cop the whole assembly of police/military/suppressive government. If you can't trust everyone you are copping with, you are copping with the wrong cops. The cities that are seeing the violence are perpetuating it by not charging those cops caught being violent. I can't wait until Martial Law is declared and the cities that are fomenting revolution have their cops turned loose on the unsuspecting public.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2020 @ 1:19pm

        Re: Re: Not the right to assemble, its the right to peacefully a

        If you can't trust everyone you are marching with, you are marching with the wrong people.

        Boy, you should tell that one to the cops who frankly are the reason for the protests.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Kitsune106, 21 Aug 2020 @ 2:16pm

        Re: Re: Not the right to assemble, its the right to peacefully a

        So by the sea.logic, one bad cop means cannot trust the whole system?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 22 Aug 2020 @ 7:37am

        Re: Re: Not the right to assemble, its the right to peacefully a

        You can't have assembly protected if even one person in that crowd is being violent or destructive. That invalidates the whole assembly.

        I don't think constitutional rights work that way. You don't lose them by being near someone who is doing something illegal.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 24 Aug 2020 @ 12:59am

          Re: Re: Re: Not the right to assemble, its the right to peaceful

          "I don't think constitutional rights work that way. You don't lose them by being near someone who is doing something illegal."

          Yeah, that's what a conservative who believes in the constitution would say.

          The current US right wing is as collectivist as Stalin, believing that association brings guilt, and punishing a hundred for what one person did brings result. Except if the perpetrator carries a badge in which case they can do no wrong. Especially when the victims are black people.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Ngita (profile), 23 Aug 2020 @ 7:22pm

        Re: Re: Not the right to assemble, its the right to peacefully a

        Would you like to be trespassed from a public place where you are peacefully assembling because the cops found someone that said they didn't know you and you could not be trusted to peacefully assemble.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 24 Aug 2020 @ 12:56am

        Re: Re: Not the right to assemble, its the right to peacefully a

        "If you can't trust everyone you are marching with, you are marching with the wrong people."

        Yes, that's exactly the grievance the protestors are levying against the police. The difference being that at least in theory the police have an actual job of preventing murder and enforcing law. The rest of the citizenry simply abstains from crime as part of the social contract.

        If you are a black person and have to teach your children tricks on how not to get murdered by police officers then what incentive do you even have to respect any of what that social contract implies?

        Tell you what, you'll take the police working for you to task on not murdering people and I'm sure the protestors will stop burning your shit down. It's that simple.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 3:46pm

      the right to [peaceful] assembly

      Yeah, we don't have this either. The police are shooting their wad (rubber bullets and tear gas) at peaceful protests.

      And journalists. They seem fond of head-shotting journalists.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 10:32am

    'I don't get it, we ignored them and it just made them madder.'

    Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. - John F Kennedy

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2020 @ 10:34am

      Re: 'I don't get it, we ignored them and it just made them madde

      Those making peaceful revolution impossible are the morons stealing and breaking things claiming it is reparations. The silent majority is going to vote against your tactics, not for them. You scare old people and they vote for the person already in office who says they will take care of it. They don't embrace change and hope it works out in their favor.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Baron von Robber, 21 Aug 2020 @ 10:43am

        Re: Re: 'I don't get it, we ignored them and it just made them m

        Can you blame them if they can be killed at will? The social contract is broken till that's fixed.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 10:58am

          'If you don't follow the rules then why should we?'

          Exactly so. It's one thing to blame someone for breaking a contract that they are a part of and for not upholding their end of the bargain, that's an entirely reasonable response, but when they are doing so because the other side isn't upholding it's end of the bargain that's just returning the favor and not being a fool for continuing to honor a contract where you're the only one doing so.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 10:47am

        Re: Re: 'I don't get it, we ignored them and it just made them m

        Oh absolutely, all those uppity n- I mean black people should have just kept politely asking police to pretty please stop murdering them for fun, I'm sure after just a few more decades of that not working the system would have been happy to start taking police brutality seriously.

        Those making peaceful revolution impossible are the morons stealing and breaking things claiming it is reparations.

        As opposed to the police and courts who claim that robbing and/or murdering people is fine because the victim had it coming or the cop managed to violate the victim's rights in a new fashion and therefore couldn't possibly have known what they did was wrong, making it crystal clear that the system has no interest in protecting the public and that if people want it to change they are going to have to demand it because politely asking isn't cutting it?

        You scare old people and they vote for the person already in office who says they will take care of it

        Which just shows that there are gullible fools of all ages who will trip over themselves to support anyone who claims that they have the solution, made all the 'funnier' in this case because Trump very much does not, and in fact his tactics so far have if anything merely fanned the flamed such that they are supporting someone actively making the problem worse.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 10:51am

        claiming it is reparations

        Y’know, if you hadn’t said those four words, you might not have come off as a racist.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2020 @ 1:21pm

        Re: Re: 'I don't get it, we ignored them and it just made them m

        You scare old people and they vote for the person already in office who says they will take care of it.

        But I thought those old, silent-majority people have the second amendment to protect themselves.

        Not so?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 3:48pm

        "morons stealing and breaking things"

        The police are notoriously shooting first. On video. Hundreds of incidents.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 24 Aug 2020 @ 1:06am

        Re: Re: 'I don't get it, we ignored them and it just made them m

        "The silent majority is going to vote against your tactics, not for them. You scare old people and they vote for the person already in office who says they will take care of it."

        Then the US will burn until it breaks, because everyone who gets voted into office by idiots will simply try to solve the problem by pourinbg gasoline on the fire until nothing more exists which can burn. It's that simple.
        By the time your method works you'll have nothing left.

        These are not "tactics". They've tried the peaceful way for 400 years and it's been proven not to work. Their choice is to either accept that for the next few centuries they'll have to teach their children how not to get murdered by police in lieu of ordinary bedtime stories, or they force change.

        It's almost laughably ironic that your arguments are, almost verbatim, the exact same ones employed by british colony landowners when colonist rabble stormed the ships of a few innocent merchants and tipped their entire cargo into Boston Harbor.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2020 @ 11:01am

    Peacefully != Peaceably

    The constitution does not give the right to peacefully assemble. This is 100% wrong.

    The first amendment says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

    Peaceably means to not cause anyone distress.

    Any time someone brings a weapon to a "peaceful" protest they have lost all first amendment protection.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 11:07am

      Peaceably means to not cause anyone distress.

      By that logic, any peaceful protest can be considered “not peaceable”. The whole point of protests is to cause some form of distress so a message will be heard. Stopping traffic (which annoys the hell out of people), offending people with certain language (like saying “Black Lives Matter” out loud), making lawmakers think about changing a law or backtracking on a decision (lest they lose the confidence of the people they serve and get voted out of office when the time comes) — all of that can be considered “distress” under the “right” interpretation of the word.

      Any time someone brings a weapon to a "peaceful" protest they have lost all first amendment protection.

      I hope, then, that you’ll support the arrest and incarceration of everyone who stormed the Michigan state capitol a few months back — y’know, the people who entered the capitol to protest COVID restrictions while openly carrying rifles in or near the presence of state lawmakers.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2020 @ 11:56am

      Re: Peacefully != Peaceably

      like all the cops who show up armed and armored like storm troopers? Yeah, they are there to maintain the 'peace' or to get a 'piece' with their fancy military toys, that they don't get to use unless they make up an excuse...

      Those mean protesters threw a half full water bottle at me... so I had to open up with 3 tear gas grenades and 3 rounds of 'pepper rounds'.... it was the only way I wouldn't fear for my safety...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2020 @ 1:22pm

      Re: Peacefully != Peaceably

      Any time someone brings a weapon to a "peaceful" protest they have lost all first amendment protection.

      Boy, you should tell that to those maskless covidiots in Michigan who showed up at the capitol.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 3:51pm

      Semantics to justify hostility and dismissal.

      Wow. You guys want precincts to burn. You guys want suicide bombers.

      That's okay. The police and boogaloo boys want that stuff too. They're hot to kill some enemy like green soldiers fresh from boot. And like those soldiers they're going to get literally sick of it when the bodies on both sides start piling up.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 9:01pm

      Re: Peacefully != Peaceably

      "Peaceably means to not cause anyone distress."

      So, by your logic, the march at Selma deserved to be met with violence because those uppity people were making the racists uncomfortable? Got it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 24 Aug 2020 @ 1:12am

      Re: Peacefully != Peaceably

      "Any time someone brings a weapon to a "peaceful" protest they have lost all first amendment protection."

      Oh? So if ten people march down the streets making use of open carry they are effectively in revolt? Tell me how that fits with the 2nd amendment? In fact, at which point would you consider an "assembly" unprotected? A man and his wife both being armed while walking to the grocery store? Five people? Ten?

      Or is the fact that bugs you just that it concerns a few black people carrying bricks in a demonstration rather than a few hundred white people, all armed with rifles?

      Why don't you guys at the alt-right ever actually think about what the constitutional snippets you can shoehorn into your narrative actually mean?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Glenn, 21 Aug 2020 @ 12:01pm

    Protesting is the right of every American. So is peaceable assembly... when you're not violating the rights of anyone else. Acts of violence against persons or property are not anyone's right, protesting or not. You're known by the company you keep, not simply what you yourself do or don't do. If you're in a group with the stated intent to peacefully protest, and someone in that group initiates violence, then it's your responsibility to put a stop to that violence. Otherwise, you're a party to it (meaning you deserve what you get).

    Some or even many of the recent "protests" were more than anything just attempts at mob rule by fascists (not a political term here--all mobs are fascist by nature). Every "SJW" is a fascist by nature. There's no excuse for SCOTUS and the police either... but, you know, two wrongs don't make a right.

    SCOTUS broke our system of law enforcement, making some people above the law (specifically, those in law enforcement). Everyone who hates democracy and rule of law is very happy to go along with this. The majority of Americans are not happy with this, but only everyone getting out and voting--in every election--will fix it... even a little. Mob violence will never solve anything... not even a little bit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 12:08pm

      Lots of the George Floyd protests were spontaneous for the first day or so. Who should be held responsible when a protest isn’t organized and violence breaks out — i.e., who should be considered the leader(s) of the protest and punished accordingly?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 22 Aug 2020 @ 7:40am

      Re:

      (not a political term here--all mobs are fascist by nature). Every "SJW" is a fascist by nature.

      I'm thinking you don't know what "fascist" means.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 22 Aug 2020 @ 12:58pm

      Re:

      If you're in a group with the stated intent to peacefully protest, and someone in that group initiates violence, then it's your responsibility to put a stop to that violence. Otherwise, you're a party to it (meaning you deserve what you get).

      Can we apply that to police departments murdering people with impunity?

      That's how we reach the conclusion ACAB, and are two steps away from abolishing the entire justice system.

      How about we also apply this to the US drone strike policy or the extrajudicial detention and torture program? And people who endorse the establishment that continues these policies?

      Then you might see why people are burning shit down.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 23 Aug 2020 @ 3:59am

        two steps away from abolishing the entire justice system

        The police is not “the entire justice system”.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 23 Aug 2020 @ 5:40am

          Re:

          "The police is not “the entire justice system”."

          QFT. Defunding the military fetish that US police currently have and directing the fund into having mental health professionals and social workers attend a scene, so that nobody gets killed, is hardly removing the entire justice system. Unless you believe that extrajudicial execution is justice, of course.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 24 Aug 2020 @ 12:01pm

          The entire justice system

          a. law enforcement
          b. the DoJ (which is a superset of a.) but also includes the hierarchy of prosecutors.
          c. the courts
          d. the penal system

          All of these have shown extreme bias in favor of establishment and in opposition to the people, especially marginalized groups and the impoverished. The whole system measures itself on convictions and incarcerations, not on fair adjudications, not on the reduction of crime.

          And the prisons are oubliettes where we unperson people and send them to be forgotten.

          Burn. The. Whole. Motherfucker. Down.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 23 Aug 2020 @ 9:33am

        If you wouldn't accept your argument used against you...

        Can we apply that to police departments murdering people with impunity?

        Of course not, that argument only applies to those in power because if you apply it equally then suddenly the 'logic' that justifies violence being used against protesters because a minority were violent(or were accused of being so) and clears the police for engaging in that violence because the protesters had it coming all of a sudden would justify the violence against the police for the not-so-minority of violent cops and clear the protesters because the police 'deserved what they got'.

        People really need to stop putting forth arguments that don't stand up under the 'turnabout is fair play' test...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2020 @ 12:44pm

    Confusing writing style

    Can someone explain the paragraphs in italics? I find this style of writing disingenuous. Typically italics would be used for quotes, which would normally convey a third party showing agreement/disagreement with the point being made. I this article though I think they are just written by the author. They kind of start off as facts, but then just dive right back to the point he was previously making. Just write your article, you don't need to make it look like you are citing a source or quoting someone.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 12:52pm

      Can someone explain the paragraphs in italics?

      The author of the article is quoting a Politico article, credited to Kia Rahnama, as a means of providing context for commentary on the overall topic (and the Politico article in particular). This is what Techdirt writers have done for as long as I’ve been reading this blog — which is a long damn while.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 22 Aug 2020 @ 7:42am

      Re: Confusing writing style

      Your hint was the phrase "As Kia Rahnama points out for Politico".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 1:33pm

    A Child.

    A child makes a mistake and kills a pet.
    The parent thinks, Oops its a Mistake.
    It slowly happens randomly, again and again.
    The Parent thinks, its just a phaze, it will go away, the child will change.
    If you dont take the time to EXPRESS to the child whats right/wrong, it will be harder to correct the problem. If you dont see what THEY have done in the past, they will think they can get away with it, over and over. So all the dead fish, the cat, the dog, the parrot.. Will thank you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 21 Aug 2020 @ 9:47pm

      A pet-killing child

      If the child kills the pet on a recurring basis you have a problem significantly larger than explaining right and wrong to the kid. And the tykes parents / guardians are likely contributing to the problem.

      We do encounter the occasional kid with ASPD where entirely hereditary (or nearly so), and those incidents tend to be discovered quickly. But like Francis Dolarhyde most kids who are regular pet-killers aren't born that way, but made.

      So it is, incidentally with discontented communities whose protests easily turn into riots. But rich old men who like the status quo are historically renowned for being blind and unsympathetic to the tribulations of the peons.

      That describes less the US, but the République Française has early periods that resemble the growing unrest.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Kitsune106, 21 Aug 2020 @ 2:17pm

    Weird

    Seems police did have something going on with broken windows policing. Sadly it's true on their side....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Essential Reading
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.