The recent violence at the Trump Rallys raises questions about America, our values and our process. Here are a few of my thoughts. Maybe you'll help me sort it out, or add your own questions in the comments section of this page.
People have the right to protest. It's the 1st Amendment, so I'm thinking it's kind of an important one. Many of the other Amendments, hinge of the 1st being the foundation.
Peaceful protest is not the same as violent disruption. You have a right to PEACEFULLY protest. You do not have a right to insight violence. If violence is more your thing, then you cross the line from protestor into breaking laws and being a criminal.
Going to a rally with the expectation of disrupting it to the point of cancellation or postponement - is theft. Thousands of people spent money and time getting to the event. To disrupt the event, to the point that the "product" can not be "consumed" by the audience is tantamount to stealing from the audience. I'd argue these are quantifiable damages, and protestors who steal from the audience should be held financially responsible to the audience for theft of services.
I've been saying it's coming for some time. Every action has a equal and opposite reaction. When one group of people continually pushes another group of people down - eventually, the suppressed folks get mad and they push back.
I've been to public meetings and hearings in which codes, mandates, fees, and ordinances all seem to be illogical, expensive and arbitrary - yet I am forced to comply. When you sit in that situation, you eventually get to a point when you think, "Well, I've exhausted all the proper channels: what's left?" And you realize the only thing left is violence. So yeah, I get it.
I condemn the violence, but I hope it is noticed. Perhaps some in power will begin to ask themselves some questions. Do we really need to be passing new laws and ordinances daily? Do we really want to be associated with a rigged elections system? What happens when these angry people decide that they can also violently protest my face, when I'm walking to work in the morning?
Government by the people breaks down when they no longer feel like they are being represented. When you give citizens no other choice that actually produces results, sometimes violences seems like the only option left.
What is the right way to "remove" a protestor?
If you are Bernie Sanders, you simply roll over. You let the protestor hijack your event, and you go home. To me, that's disappointing, weak and ill advised. You have now set the expectations of future protestors. Now anyone can take over an event.
Conversely, I don't think inciting violence is the way either. Telling people to "punch them in the face" is not really a great idea, although if you see #1 above - Trump does have a right to say it.
Somewhere in between these two extremes is the proper process. I believe the campaign has a RESPONSIBILITY to provide a safe, peaceful venue. I believe that to be true, based on the rights outlined above, combined with the "contract" to provide services between the candidate and the audience. Therefore, simply instructing security to remove protestors and take them to a place where they can be seen and heard later is probably the best, most fair, thing you can do.
But even dealing with protests by removing protestors peacefully can have a down side. Trump rallys have been shown for month on the news as Trump asks security to remove the Protestors. This airing of his requests paints the candidate as against 1st Amendment rights - even though, it can be argued that he is actually protecting the first amendment rights for the largest number of people in his audience while honoring his contract to deliver services.
We've seen lots of fist fights and violence at sporting events over my lifetime. Is the NBA anti-first Amendment? Does Soccer have racist overtones? Is the NFL not a "safe space". Anyone calling to end any of these violent venues and passtime activities? Just some food for thought.
It's a "gut check" time in our history. As a nation we need to look inside and ask ourselves who we are as a nation.
Are we a mob of angry people, ill-informed of our rights and responsibilities as citizens?
Are we a citizenry of educated, passionate people who respect others and only use violence in defense or as a last resort after thoughtful consideration?
These are our choices, and we need to make some decisions pretty quickly. The future of our country hangs in the balance.