Thursday, August 28, 2008

Where's the Line?

As reported on several websites, including SayAnythingBlog (where I saw it), some of the interactions between Denver police and protesters this week have turned violent.

One such incident involved a police officer losing his cool and using his baton to "cross-check" a protester who wouldn't follow verbal commands. (The video is here: be aware, there is not only violence but also severe language).

Some observations--

First: I don't care what is being said to him, unless the assailant is actually, um, "assailing" (as in physically attacking) or about to harm a police officer, I don't think that much force needed to be used. The check would have gotten him a 5-minute major if he were on the ice. There is a place for physical response and engagement, but there are degrees.

Second: The video gives no context for the encounter. Because of this, we can't assume that this was unprovoked or entirely unwarranted. (To be clear, I'm not justifying using a pole to knock someone to the ground when they aren't attacking you--but SOME response may have been necessary, if not THAT response.) So we have to keep that in mind as we view this exchange. We don't know what went on before or after.

Third: There is a question that no one seems to be debating in America these days--namely, where is the line when it comes to protesting? What is "peaceful protesting" and when does a protester cross over into disruption and riot-incitement? A man followed Michelle Malkin around (second half of the vid; the first half is funny in a Colbert kind of way) a few days ago, screaming at her, calling her a monster and a killer, ranting and raving, spiting and wailing. He followed her around for a long time, would not leave her alone. There are some who might say, "That's free speech, you can't stop that." My question is, where is the boundary where free speech becomes verbal assault? Is it chants of "Kill _____" when this person is standing right there, in the midst of a pretty unruly crowd?

Fourth: Related to the previous point is the question of what police forces, specifically security/riot squads, are "allowed" to do in these situations. If you have a mob (as these groups of protesters often become) screaming at you, cursing at you, calling for your death or harm, calling you fascist and thug, how much does that try your patience? How hard is it to stay under control? Again, I repeat for clarity, I disagree with simply bowling over a protester who is shouting, even baiting an officer, but who is not throwing rocks or other projectiles, or is not moving at them to attack. But I ask you, where is the line? When is enough enough?

Five: If you find yourself assuming the police are always to blame in these situations, and you don't believe the line is crossed on both sides, I invite you to honestly investigate. The videos of screaming hordes are on the internet, and easy to find.

Six: Unrelated to the two incidents here, but tangential: People who protest in masks in a free society are COWARDS. If you are one of them, let me tell you to your bandana-covered face: YOU. ARE. A. COWARD.

And if you wear a mask because you don't think America is a free society, you're not only a coward but also a fool. Open your eyes. CHINA is a closed society. The fact that you GET to protest proves you're a fool.

So the Question: What do you think about this issue? Should there be a self-imposed limit to "free speech"--that is, do you think there's a line civilized people don't cross? Or are extremes in protest (whether verbal or physically violent) justified in extreme times?

Discuss in the com-box below, but BE NICE. No personal attacks--unless you're insulting the cowards in masks.

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