Public Protests Self-Defeating, Not Protected When Speech Turns Violent

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Sore losers they are, the crybaby protesters are leeching onto a class action suit filed by some wanne-be-doer-of-good lawyer.

Even if the suit fails, Tommy Harvey gets public recognition for lacking the critical thinking skills to see why his side will lose. But knowing his target audience of ineffectual people, Harvey Esq. will receive some pats on the back — and perhaps a few new clients — for wasting his time on such a frivolous suit.

Criminals have fewer rights than law-abiding citizens.

Nonetheless, here’s why the demonstrators’ lawsuit against “unconstitutional restriction of free speech and assembly” will, in fact, be dismissed. A protester loses his or her constitutional rights of assembly and free speech when s/he commits a crime.

The definitive distinction of protected versus unprotected speech may be found in your state’s disorderly conduct statute. News media have little to say about the comparatively milquetoast protests in Milwaukee or Madison because Wisconsin statutes are considerably — but not overly — broad in construction, thereby giving law enforcement ample leeway to detain for any remotely suspicious or mildly disturbing conduct.

Consider this excerpt from the State of Wisconsin statutes on crimes against the public peace:

947.01: Disorderly conduct.

947.01(1)(1): Whoever, in a public or private place, engages in violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, unreasonably loud or otherwise disorderly conduct under circumstances in which the conduct tends to cause or provoke a disturbance is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor…

Application of the disorderly conduct statute to speech alone is permissible under appropriate circumstances. When speech is not an essential part of any exposition of ideas, when it is utterly devoid of social value, and when it can cause or provoke a disturbance, the disorderly conduct statute can be applicable. State v. A.S. 2001 WI 48, 243 Wis. 2d 173, 626 N.W.2d 712, 99-2317…

Defiance of a police officer’s order to move is itself disorderly conduct if the order is lawful. Braun v. Baldwin, 346 F.3d 761 (2003).

And when you defy such a directive, you give police power to lawfully Taser, tear gas, or pepper spray you for continued non-compliance. Get it?

Your responsibility to be lawful outweighs your right to free speech.

It is quite telling of a group’s mentality when their members seek confrontation but then complain when they are punished for creating trouble. Say it with me, “Confrontation kings and drama queens!”

The businesses and police cars torched by demonstrators constitute at least 15 counts of arson. The boisterous pushing and shouting exhibited by post-verdict protesters constitute many counts of disorderly conduct.

Tear gas was the minimum force necessary to subdue such a wild crowd. The next escalation of force would have been Tasering, which has been used without indictment on those who merely spoke out of turn at public meetings. (I could use the generic term “electrically conductive weapon,” but Taser is briefer.)

Remember the, “Don’t Tase me, bro” guy? Andrew Meyer was never recompensed for being incapacitated, and neither would any Tasered demonstrators. The police involved in Meyer’s Tasering were cleared of wrongdoing by review of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Also recall the UC-Davis student protesters who were pepper sprayed for refusing to depart from their kneeling (loitering) position. Again, police were found to have lawfully used force in their actions against those non-violent protesters. Force is even more justifiable, condign, and appropriate when the demonstrators ascend from mere disorderly conduct and become violent.

It is conceivable that even a nonverbal cue, such as extending one’s middle finger, would incite imminent lawless action and therefore be illegal. And when one member of an organized crowd acts illegally, the others must make room for police to arrest the criminal, or else they also become criminals by obstructing justice or otherwise disobeying police orders.

Do you understand how this domino effect can easily, but constitutionally, result in mass criminalization of otherwise lawful demonstrators? Understand this before you volunteer for a protest!

Benefits of protesting are nonexistent.

People marching to and fro; chanting pedestrian sentiments; and waving handle-less signs (made so as to avoid potential of the supporting bracket as a club): What do they accomplish?

Zilch — nada — nothing at all!

Did all those people getting firehosed during the Civil Rights era make a difference? Only the ones who filed court cases against the government! The rest of the activists were just cannon fodder, so to speak.

“Yeah, but what about the people who participated in boycotts?”

Boycotts can work against private organizations, but it is difficult to boycott a government: You still pay sales tax, income tax, and property tax — the latter of which is borne by renters via higher rent prices. So rather than boycott government, take advantage of the official policy levers that it provides to all, courtesy of tax-funded staffers, offices, and phone lines. And — need it be said? — vote!

“But, what about emotional release — catharsis? A person can only vote once every term; otherwise, they’re powerless!”

Yes, that opportunity comes along once every term; and most candidates for a given spot agree on all but a few issues. Elected officials end up enacting centrist legislation anyway due to the organizational dynamics of the legislative chambers, regulatory bodies, and councils.

Assiduous students of this phenomenon know this effect is modeled by the Pareto principle — but for practical purposes, all you need to remember about political compromise is that some politicians are more influential than others.

And when their fringe unpopular candidates aren’t elected, politically frustrated people might therefore describe themselves as “disenfranchised” despite wielding the full right to vote.

Nonetheless, vent your emotions through other means: blog posts; correspondence with elected officials; phone calls to radio shows; online petitions; etc.

Making a scene in the street just makes you look unemployable and too incompetent to utilize established avenues for reaching decision makers!

Here’s a big hint for you emo boys and girls, of all ages and hardships, who rant in the thoroughfare: Legislative staffers do not record your demonstration chants; your protest signs; or how many participants you have.

They record only communication about policy that is delivered to them via official channels, such as the legislative hotline and the constituent affairs mailbox, and politicians care only about what in official correspondence sent by constituents, not about the apparent message of the protest that makes the nightly news.

Every congressional bill, executive order, regulatory rule, and judicial decision ever to come about arose due to lobbying through official means and by either getting oneself involved with a legislative exchange council or writing one’s own legislation.

Demonstrations are self-destructive by nature.

“A protest ain’t confrontation!”

Yes, protest is confrontational — by its very nature. An intrusive expression of discontent, such as walking up to a stranger and mouthing off, amounts to disorderly conduct if in a public place and an additional trespassing charge if in a fully private or semi-private area, such as to accost someone during their work hours.

On a larger scale: a protest in the streets, neighborhood, or physical business district invites numerous counts of disorderly conduct by disrupting commerce and disturbing the peace. And if you rest from all that pacing, then you are technically loitering.

As demonstrated above, demonstrators walk a fine line between peaceful assembly and criminal activity. The manner and demeanor of congregation, relative to state and local laws governing orderly assembly and public conduct, determine the legal determination of lawful or unlawful status.

Given the inherently confrontational expression of a protest, the threshold between “enthusiastic” and “boisterous” is easily and inadvertently crossed — at the expense of a participant’s right to assembly and self-expression.

The demonstrator who doesn’t write Congress doth protest too much.

A protest communicates that you are adequately angry to get off your couch but too inarticulate and ignorant to explain, directly to legislative staffers and regulatory councils, what must be changed about current laws and regulations.

Even those council resolutions and gubernatorial orders calling for the National Guard, commonly misinterpreted as arising “from the people,” are but constraints upon the protesters requested by law enforcement. Sure, you might receive some “humanitarian aid” from FEMA — but also at the price of a curfew and de facto martial law via National Guard patrols.

That is exactly what those stupid protesters are doing when they seek confrontation! Protesters crave victimhood to validate their worldview. If involuntary part-time employment or unemployment is the root cause of discontent, then lobby administratively to address those issues.

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