17 September 2010

Is the law the law or isn't it?


Bad monkey said...

I agree with you very much on how civil disobedience becomes noble. One must risk suffering for it to be noble. But this wasn't even in the same category as your examples.

This wasn't public disobedience by a person objecting to the actions of the State, where the State was victimizing people, this was one individual who committed an illegal act in order to deprive another individual of their right of free expression.

And as you note though, few people risk the same type of harms in protests as those before them have.

However, let us assume, for the moment, Mr. Isom was risking a consequence. What was his message then? Deprive other individuals of their rights if you disagree with them, even if you must resort to criminal activity to do so. Is that really a message we want to even suggest should ever be considered noble?

So, he should be punished, but not because it would lend merit to his actions. There is no merit in depriving another of their right to free speech / expression. Two closing thoughts, and I wish I could claim either as my own:

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" - Evelyn Beatrice Hall
"When just one of us loses just one of our rights, then the freedoms of all of us are diminished." - FBI Director Robert Mueller

I'm curious which do you think would be worse, when the government deprives people of their rights, or when the government turns a blind eye to private citizens using vigilantism to deprive people of their rights?

Windypundit said...

"They're just joining the festival."

Okay, but it's not like that's a bad thing. It's just nothing to brag about.

Ken Lammers said...

Bad Monkey,

Generally, all the acts I talked about were those meant to show disapproval of something else. Whether its mass demonstrations or singular demonstrations, they are demonstrations undertaken secure in the knowledge that no actual consequence is risked.

As for freedom of speech, I'm not an absolutist. There are times I'm not upset that an individual is stopped from purposefully obnoxious speech (as long as it is not the government itself which is stopping the speech). I'm not terribly bothered by the hippy stopping the Koran burning, but I am upset that he is not being punished for the act. There must be a barrier - a price which the person realizes exists and is willing to pay - or we are merely allowing people to disrupt the rights of others at no cost.

Ken Lammers said...


Nor is it something that should be paid attention to. The problem is that marches, counter-marches, sit-ins, Koran thefts, etc. are covered by the press as though they are meaningful acts.