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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Punish the criminal protesters with appropriate power

We live in a nation of laws created through the consent of the governed, backed by constitutionally guaranteed rights. Anyone who breaks the law by violating the persons, property, or rights of innocents should be arrested, prosecuted, convicted, and punished.

Period.

If you don’t like a statue or memorial, that doesn’t give you the right to deface, destroy, or remove it. You have a right to petition your government to remove it and the right to secure the support of other voters to convince elected officials to remove it, and you have the right to protest peacefully, without violating the free movement of others, around the statue, to express your objections to it. But that’s it. The minute you touch it in any way that mars it, you have broken the law and should be arrested.

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Likewise, you have no right to set up, by force alone, an “autonomous zone” in any area of the country bigger than property you and your compatriots own. You have no right to violate the rights, the property, or the ability to conduct business of anyone within the zone. You certainly have no right to deny to anyone in the zone the police and emergency medical protections due to every resident of the town, city, county, state, or country.

If you do any of those things, you should be arrested, prosecuted, convicted, and punished.

You have every right to walk along a roadside, holding signs aloft and chanting slogans. But unless you have a permit, you have no right to block the access others have to that public road. If you block it, you should be arrested, prosecuted, convicted, and punished.

You have not just the legal right but the moral authority to protest police brutality loudly. You have no right to attack other police who are keeping the peace and protecting innocent people and their property. If you do attack, you should be arrested and subject to those criminal justice processes described above.

The Constitution, ratified by “we the people” and amended 17 times by the people, protects “the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” Key word: Peaceably. The Constitution also provides for the laws (ordinary statutes, not the basic charter) to be written, amended, replaced, or repealed through representative, and sometimes plebiscitary, processes. Through those processes, your rights to make your voice heard are sacrosanct, but so are the rights of those who oppose you. You have no right to short-circuit those processes.

Of course, those in authority sometimes violate the laws or people’s rights. Yet, that’s the point: It is not the laws that oppress and not the institutions that deliberately oppress, but rather it is individuals or groups who break the law to oppress. This is not Saddam Hussein’s Iraq or even Vladimir Putin’s Russia, where the state itself is the knowing oppressor. We live in the United States of America, where the only oppression occurs as a violation of, not expression of, official state authority.

If you don’t like it, then start winning elections. If you have no patience for winning elections, then move. Leave. Go to another city or state — or immigrate to Venezuela or Vietnam.

But it you remain here, and you violate our laws, then you should be arrested, prosecuted, convicted, and punished. Meanwhile, if those in authority do not arrest and punish you, then they are disobeying the duty of the law. Their duty, by appropriate force, if necessary, is to keep your lawbreaking in check.

Period.



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