Meaningful Distinction:

Patrick S. Lasswell Look outward for something to accomplish, not inward for something to despise.
pslblog at gmail dot com
Saturday, January 10, 2004
Disco at the ICBM Silo!

You can't hold a rave on top of an ICBM silo, I checked. It turns out that certain areas of strategic value to the United States are exempted from the inalienable rights of Americans to get up, get down, and boogie. It gets worse! Women in Florida are no longer allowed to show their bodies on boats adjacent to Navy ships to get sailor's hats. It's something about the Coast Guard not believing in the security awareness of Squids in rut, or the increased chances of terrorist attacks. Motorcyclists are not being allowed do drag race F-14's like in the movie Top Gun, either.

Even worse, the traditional mosh pit and street theatre that calls itself a protest rally can no longer be located alongside the President's route. Some people are getting up in arms about this because they feel their First Amendment rights are being violated. As somebody who has watched protest rallies in downtown Portland, OR for a number of years, my response is that the protesters are full of crap. They do not want to speak with the President or petition for redress of grievances, they want to threaten him and be empowered by the threat of rioting. They care not at all about the issues of the day or the performance of the person in office; they care about being a pack animal that causes others to fear them.

Wherever the President of the United States goes, that area is of strategic value to the United States of America. His staff, their vehicles, and the processes of securing the President are all of strategic value to the country, even if you do not like the current office holder. It is reasonable and prudent to separate that area from the people who are stating that they view the President as a greater threat than the terrorists who would attack him. I watched a man carry a child into the front of a crowd opposite the riot police and not leave the area when the child was in danger in order to protest the president. I have no respect for the probity and restraint of protesters in my home town these days, and neither did my father.

My father was a sixties radical minister who was arrested multiple times for registering blacks to vote in the south, organizing migrant workers in California, and organizing a free speech event in a free speech area of campus. I may not be an expert on what is and is not a violation of First Amendment law, but my father was. My father worked to communicate important information to people who were unaware of grave problems with this country. My father worked to help people avoid compulsory induction into the military during the draft. My father worked during a time of government suppression of dissent and presidential enemies' lists. He worked to ensure that his children were safe from the dangers of his moral decisions, but we grew up knowing that the FBI was trying to arrest my father illegally.

I've watched the current protesters with a critical eye and I talked about them with my father before he died last June. He had no respect for them. They did not have a coherent message, they had no respect for non-violence, the ones with solidarity did not communicate their beliefs, and there was more interest in making a spectacle than making a change. If they had a message worth relating, they should not need to be violent to communicate it. There is no history of positive change occurring as a result of mob violence, although there is a vivid history of positive change occurring due to hard work. That the current crop of activists has abandoned the methods that are successful at bringing positive change spoke volumes to my father about what they were interested in.

I'm not particularly sorry that you can't hold a disco on an ICBM silo, sail your boat to within hat-toss range of a destroyer, drag race a fighter jet, or otherwise endanger national security for personal fulfillment. There are other arenas where you can party, expose yourself, drive fast, or speak freely about the president without risking anything but your own dignity. Further, the absence of concern for either the rights of others or the success of their actions of the current crop of protesters does not warrant their inclusion in all areas. If you were security, would you let this guy backstage to a concert?

Why would you let him near the leadership of the United States?
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