These are tumultuous times here in the good old USA.
It seems like every time I turn around, there’s more bad news about another protest gone amuck. If the media is to be believed (not that I’m saying it should) things are totally out of control.
Here’s just a small sample of recent headlines:
Turkey Issues Travel Warning About U.S., Citing Protests
Protests against Donald Trump’s win turn violent
Violence erupts around U.S. amid large protests over Trump victory
It honestly makes me wonder whatever happened to peaceful protest?
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states:
“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.”
The key words are “peaceably assemble.”
Nowhere in the Constitution does it say anything about the right to commit random (or deliberate) acts of destruction. So no, arson, vandalism, looting, theft, and related activities are not acceptable forms of protest. Any acts of violence are also unacceptable.
So what on earth is going on?
As far as I can tell, there are three basic reasons why gatherings that begin as peaceful protests turn ugly. The reason is the presence of “professional troublemakers.” These are the people who are paid to hijack peaceful events in order to promote a specific agenda — usually one that has little or nothing to do with the message originally endorsed by event organizers.
Then there are the criminals. These are the people who see peaceful protests as an opportunity to engage in illegal acts. These are the people who happily torch buildings, police cars What’s even more alarming is their propensity for attacking police officers and civilians.
And then there are the lunatics. These are the anarchists and the separatists and God only knows what else. I don’t even know how to describe them.
All I know is when you throw them all together, it is an incredibly toxic mix.
And as an American who fully endorses the right to engage in peaceful protest, I think it’s really sad.