I have long noticed a trend, more prevalent in academia than elsewhere, towards rewarding the worst behavior if the transgressors can be said to have any grievance as a victim.
Nearly every time there is rioting, looting, and violence, the media tries to spin it as a protest. We all have a right to lawful protest. None of us has a right to act in criminal ways, no matter our perceived status as a victim.
This enabling and excusing of criminal behavior is, sadly, instructed and informed by an elitist and insultingly paternalistic view towards certain people. Obviously, they can’t be expected to follow the same rules as everyone else, they may not even understand and recognize them after what they’ve suffered. When we see and hear talking heads and media personalities making justifications for criminal actions, why should we be surprised when we see more of them?
There is also a near glamorization of “peaceful protest” that has occurred since the 60’s. Don’t get me wrong, peaceful protest IS what we should all hope for and participate in when we deem it necessary. That being said, when we think that our feelings and rights are paramount over those of others that is where we err.
It has long been understood that my rights end precisely where yours begin. That is to say, it is desirable that we consider and do not trample upon any other persons’ rights in the free exercise of our own.
So, what are we to make of student protests that disrupt scheduled events? Actress Jenna Fischer of The Office fame was recently at DePauw University. A group of protestors, including LGBT, Muslim, Jewish and African Americans, claiming to feel unsafe and marginalized on campus, disrupted her speech for almost 15 minutes. Attendees were quoted saying the whole event was soured and that some of them felt foolish for wanting to ask questions about a comedy show when some were so mistreated on their campus. Jenna Fischer donated her speaking fees to several charities on the students’ behalf. More proof that disruptive behavior can net positive results..
Suzette Hackney in Last Sundays April 22, 2018, Indianapolis Star wrote many complimentary things about the students including “Bravo”, calling them “Brilliant” for using the event, which would bring out many campus employees and office holders. She also wrote, “it’s not our right or privilege to tell those who feel oppressed the proper way to express their displeasure”. (Nor to) “…dictate how and where lawful dissent can occur”. She also quoted Dr. Martin Luther Kings’ “The time is always right to do what is right.” She also strongly implied that those who don’t wish to listen and have empathy might be racially insensitive, uncaring or bigoted.
First of all, constitutionally, we all have a right to assemble peaceably and to enjoy our leisure time as we see fit. I am more than certain that there were people of all kinds attending this event to hear Ms. Fischer speak. Why should they have their evenings ruined? How is that “the right thing to do”? Your rights end where mine begin and it’s certainly not as if they couldn’t get traction for their respective issues and grievances some other way. Instead, they willfully abused the rights of others in a shameless act of manipulation. Some may call this brilliant, and I leave them to their opinions on the matter.
I call it an example of what is worst about identity politics. Separate, divide and then, as is always the case, raise some onto a platform of superiority over others. Many of these young people also believe in white privilege and the marginalization of other races and minorities…
I wonder though, do you think they would allow a speaking event conducted by a Gay Black Liberal (as an example) to be hijacked by a white Conservative Christian student group? Of course not, and it wouldn’t matter a bit who had been bullied, harassed or victimized. Even more to the point, I sincerely doubt that anyone would be hailing such students for their conduct. A great way of checking the actual rightness of any conduct, behavior or activity is to put the shoe on the other foot. Example, if it is correct to make a Christian baker prepare a cake for a gay wedding ceremony, then it is also correct to have a gay baker prepare an order for the Westboro Baptist group, right?
I am of the firm opinion that protesters should be arrested if they disrupt any planned event. There ARE times and places for protest and you don’t exercise your rights by trampling over those of others. Likewise, all protests done outside such events should be subject to full rule of law. Smash glass, act in a disruptive or abusive manner or show up wearing masks? Go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200.
Also, I hesitate to bring this up, but there are some people for whom victimhood is a pastime and even a lifestyle. After all, if all our problems may be safely laid at the feet of society, straight people, whites or what have you; then nothing is ever ones’ own fault. This is NOT to denigrate those who actually are victims, but we can’t automatically assume that all who cry racism, homophobia or whatever it is, are being truthful. Just look up “fake hate crimes” and I think you will be surprised. That being said, even if you are a victim, that doesn’t give you the right to interrupt and disrupt others.
If we truly wish respect for all people and all views, we must protect the right to speak and be heard without disruption, for all.