In light of recent events, Bandolero believes we should take a look at the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America.
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.
It’s amazing how much can be said with so few words!
It has lately been repeatedly said that protesters were exercising their First Amendment rights. Apparently, it is asserted that a “protest” is covered by “freedom of speech”. Bandolero doesn’t see that. A protest seems more appropriately to fall under “petition the Government for a redress of grievances”. In either case, Bandolero cannot find any right to pillage and vandalize property, nor any right to stop traffic, nor any right to throw water bottles and other projectiles at police, nor any right to assault and batter people. Nevertheless, all of these are being embraced as forms of “protest” protected by the First Amendment. It appears that they have overlooked the word “peaceably”. Or, perhaps, they have re-defined the word “peaceably” so that all of those activities are now considered to be peaceful. Bandolero shakes his head in dismay and disappointment. No, they are not peaceful.
Bandolero wonders if there’s any difference between a “protest” and a “demonstration”. In the 1960’s, large gatherings and marches were usually referred to as demonstrations; participants were demonstrators. Their purpose was to publicize things the demonstrators considered to be violations of the rights of, or injustices committed against, certain people, usually black people although native Americans got quite a number of demonstrations. Generally, the demonstrations were done “peaceably”, and served to petition the government for redress of grievances. The recent “protests”, on the other hand, have served to display outrage and express the sentiment, “I’m not going to take it any more!” That may amount to a form of petition for redress. However, there is no Constitutional right to petition for redress by breaking windows, spraying graffiti, throwing hard objects, looting, or assaulting; nor are such activities covered by freedom of speech. They aren’t speech, they are crimes; although, listening to some of the protesters, they seem to be asserting that the commission of a crime is a form of speech. Hmm, Bandolero may need to review his legal history, as he can’t recall whether burning draft cards and/or the flag was finally decided to be a form of speech protected by the First Amendment! Still, those would be victimless crimes, at least! We heard several talking heads assert that the destruction of a few small businesses and the beatings of a few innocent civilians was a small price to pay in relation to the bigger picture of protesting systemic racism in America. As if they never heard the phrase “slippery slope”.
Recently, large noisy rancorous in-your-face antagonistic car-bombing store-looting gatherings of people have been referred to as protests rather than as demonstrations; the talking heads being quick to assert that the violence was insignificant. It seems that the purpose of this shift in terminology serves the purpose of bringing uncivil activities within the scope of what is protected by the First Amendment. This is both unfortunate and dangerous. Nevertheless, it can be seen as an element of the left’s strategy to expand the First Amendment and bring illegal activities within its scope. Bandolero, for one, will continue to oppose this strategy. The First Amendment, and all provisions of the Constitution, must be preserved and protected, not re-defined into meaningless slogans to fit the political correctness of the moment.