On the RNC and the Riots

Observations of The World | September 6th, 2008

I generally don’t get into politics here, but I feel the need to address the RNC convention. I’ve already lived through the WTO riots, and what I witnessed there in Seattle scared the crap out of me.

Most of the people who protested the RNC are a genuine, honest, just and peaceful group, with valid points of view (I don’t particularly agree with them, but that’s another topic altogether). I address this screed not to them, but to the small minority on their fringe, who’s only aim was destruction.

Did the police have the right to stop protesters at the RNC Convention? Everyone who gathered, marched and protested would undoubtedly say No! And I would agree with them—up to a point.

The Constitution of the United States of America guarantees that the people have the right to assemble and address their grievances. The protesters had every right to be there, rights guaranteed by that founding document, rights I whole-heartily support. But rights can be a tricky thing, and they don’t apply only to the government. One person can violate my rights just as easily as the government can, otherwise there would be no laws against robbery, rape, theft, vandalism, swindle and murder. When one person’s rights infringe upon the rights of another, then that’s where their rights end.

Your rights end when they infringe upon mine. Without justice, “rights” have no meaning. Does one group of people have the right to use the force of their numbers—or their guns—to infringe upon another’s right to assemble? Do they have the right to keep you from engaging in your own business? If you were to answer, “No, the police have no right to shut us up or lock us down,” then why did your very actions state that the conventioneers had no right to their meeting, that it was your right to shut them up and lock them down?

I am an armchair history buff. I recall some old film footage: hundreds — if not thousands — of people marching and chanting, holding flags and banners with painted slogans; knocking down doors, breaking windows and cracking skulls. Anyone who would stand in their way was fair game. Many people not allied with the marchers and their ideology were afraid to go about their own rightful business, in fear of their very lives. A fear that was justified. Genuine fear of the Nazi goons who marched through Berlin when Hitler came to power.

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