News and images from California last night gave me that sinking feeling once again. Fanatical progressives, immune to logic and reason, have once again rioted and turned violent, rather than respect free speech and democratic rights. The occasion was a speech by Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley, which was canceled due to the violence. It wasn’t pretty.
I find some of Mr. Yiannopoulos’ views to be, frankly, disgusting, and the way in which he expresses them to be morally outrageous. I am, after all, a retired pastor. I have my own standards, and his are far from mine in many respects. Nevertheless, he has as much right to his opinions as I have; and if I have the right to propagate my views by means of speaking and writing about them, he has the same right. It can’t be any other way. I’m very unlikely to convert him, and he’s just as unlikely to convert me, but that doesn’t matter. A right is a right is a right. Once you put restrictions upon a right, it’s no longer a right – it’s a privilege.
The US constitution contains a ‘Bill of Rights‘, not a ‘List of Privileges’. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948, also claims certain rights as inherent. They’re not optional. They’re not dependent upon the whim or political will of governments, nations or alliances. They’re basic, fundamental, and foundational to human society.
The Nazi Party in Germany was very efficient at trampling upon the rights of those who disagreed with Hitler’s nightmarish philosophy. Mussolini’s Fascists did the same in Italy. The Communists in the Soviet Union did the same and more, to an even greater extent, and Mao in China may have outdone even Stalin in the number of his own people that he killed in order to stamp out dissent and promote his fanatical ideology. All of these groups and individuals had one thing in common; they insisted on controlling expression. There was no such thing as ‘freedom of speech’ unless it was in accord with the philosophies and views of the governing or controlling faction. Any dissent was not tolerated, and was met with, at best, opprobrium and social isolation; often, with imprisonment; and not infrequently with murder.
I wonder if those protesters at UC Berkeley know – or even care – about the historical sewer of intolerance and ideological purity in which they’ve chosen to take their stand? By their actions, they’ve demonstrated that they are just as anti-democratic and anti-human-rights as Nazis, or Fascists, or Communists, or Maoists. There can be no justification whatsoever for their actions, no matter how passionately they believe in their cause.
A previous generation of protesters at UC Berkeley was dealt with firmly by then-California governor Ronald Reagan, who had this to say when challenged about his firm methods by UC Berkeley professors and journalists.
Then-Governor Reagan was criticized at the time for what some saw as an unreasonable crackdown; but I think his words put the problem in a nutshell. Laws are passed in the name of, and to protect, the people; and they (usually) incorporate our Bill of Rights and other human rights considerations. As soon as you allow anyone, of any political persuasion, to ignore them in the name of a different philosophy, then the rule of law breaks down – and so does our society.
Laws can be unjust. They can be in breach of human rights. When that happens, it’s up to us to point that out, and if necessary to make our point all the more strongly by means of peaceful protest and civil disobedience – measures which have a rich history in these United States. However, to inflict criminal violence and damage upon others and their possessions has no place in that process. It makes the cure worse than the disease. Furthermore, if the ‘cure’ seeks to take away from others the same human rights that the protesters use as a shield and an excuse for their actions, then it’s no cure at all.
"Once you put restrictions upon a right, it's no longer a right – it's a privilege."
I wish more people understood that. I am really concerned about the ferocity of leftist violence these days directed at those who even mildly dissent from leftist orthodoxy.
And as if these militant street thugs weren't a serious enough threat to free speech, so called "hate law" legislation is giving legal sanction to the effort to ban any statement that fails to support the leftist agenda.
It is refreshing to see an opinion on the things that are happening today talked about in a straight up manner, no name calling.
I'm a middle of the road kind of guy & do try to read what's said on both sides, when the name calling starts the point being made is lost and it's just another rant.
There are a lot of rants out there these days.
I'm sorry, but I didn't read this whole post….too ornery today. But, you did strike something deep inside that percolated to the forefront….when are religious organizations going to realize that conservatives are now aligned with gays, lesbians and alt-folks?
The republican party has embraced these folks of choice(?) to prove that they (the republicans) are "with it" when it comes to alt-lifestyles. The repubs are allowing alt-lifestyle folks the pulpit, to spread the message of conservatism.
When are Christian organizations, which I view as being conservative, going to realize now, that they stand alongside the LGBT agenda?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I realize that God ate and spoke with prostitutes and shady characters. God, was able to change the hearts of those folks towards Him.
Are the modern day conservative Christians going to be able to do the same or will their message be "watered down"?
As a friend of mine observed this morning:"If Trump is Hitler, why are the Brownshirts all Democrats?"
They are beyond rational debate. The usual progress of a discussion with one of them is (they) point, (you) counterpoint, they (insult), (you) defensive counterpoint, (they) insult, (you) shrug shoulders and walk away hoping they don't get violent as they continue to hurl insults at you. They are what the pretend to demonstrate against. They are the totalitarians they say they fear. They are the NAZIs they accuse others of being. They are chasing shadows that do not exist.
As with the protests in the 60s and 70s there are some gullible, innocent, true believers in these groups but the real trouble is the outside instigators. Soros comes to mind.
The difference between civil disobedience of unjust laws, and rioting, is discovered by *finding the victim*. In the former case, the victim is the person breaking the unjust law and (often) being thrown in a cage for it. In the latter case, the victim is someone OTHER THAN the person breaking the law – and keeping also in mind that nobody is claiming that the law in question is unjust. For example, nobody claims the law against destroying property and beating people is unjust.
Billll – I think you win the Quote of the Day right there.
"If Trump is Hitler, why are the Brownshirts all Democrats?"
These are children that were educated in state schools that lauded Obama as the lightbringer and spent most of their teen years knowing nothing other than the leftists getting their way most of the time. And now they have been shocked by Hillary (the anointed!) losing to Trump (the devil incarnate!), and cannot handle the disappointment. As a libertarian, I am very used to not seeing anyone in the national spotlight that I respect, much less like, so all this angst is "so what" to me. But the little snowflakes can't deal with it.
"If Trump is Hitler, why are the Brownshirts all Democrats?"
I find the parallels between how the Nazi SA/SS formed and the current groups of violent "political" agitators to be uncomfortably close. The fact that (per news reports) that about 150 "anarchists" showed up at the Berkley demonstration implies a fair amount of coordination. As none of the rioters seem to have been arrested, it seems that the university police had orders not to go after them, making it easier for the rioters to do their thing.
If anything, this is a time for the country to pull together. Unfortunately, I think the left is after the kind of power that comes from "us and them" confrontations instead of unity. I hope the violent confrontations don't become any worse, but that could happen.