Twenty-first century America is no place for political violence

While that’s not the most snappy title, I’m hoping people who read it can all agree on that. We are above political violence. That should go without saying, but apparently it can’t.

First of all, I’m not playing into false equivalence, or excuses, or blaming entire groups for what some do. I’m not going to try and look up who showed up on either side and get exacting lists of people to condemn. That’s a stupid distraction. The people who committed crimes on Saturday suck, and it doesn’t matter if I, or the President, or anyone else aside from law enforcement can produce an exact list of who they were. The idea of giving someone a potential inexhaustible list to condemn (that may be updated and added to at any time) is just tire-spinning and a waste of time.

People committing violent crimes suck. They’re grown-bodied losers, toddlers in adult form, throwing a tantrum. If someone says something you don’t like, as an adult, you do not get to just go hit him, or drive a car into them, or do any other violent thing in response. That’s not what adulthood is like, and it’s not even what middle school should be like. Kids who bite get sent home from kindergarten, why in the name of hell are adults excusing other adults behaving badly?

People excusing violent crimes suck, too. The key words there: “violent crimes.” Not self-defense, not making a citizens arrest of a lunatic hurting innocent people. Violent crimes. Self defense is pretty easy to define here, too: reasonably attempting to prevent unprovoked grievous bodily harm. The person swinging a fist first does not get to claim self defense. Reasonably there implies something, too — that prick in the car was not reasonably in danger, and what he did was not self defense. (That said, I’d recommend people avoid crazy pricks like him because they are unpredictable*)

I don’t know who started what Saturday. I doubt there’ll ever be a clear cut answer to each set of violent interactions. But I also have no doubt believing that either set of people who showed up to the “protest” were bad apples. Racism is bad, mmkay? Showing up to a protest to violently shut it down is also bad. But showing up to counter-protest is not. The two issues, protesting/free speech and violence, are not one in the same.

The answer to free speech is more free speech. Say it a million times, chant it, live it. If the speech you oppose is not illegal — harassing, say — then ignore it or answer back. When the Westboro cult showed up at Soldiers Funerals, several groups of people came up with great counter-protests. Rick-rolling, blatant flaming homosexual displays (within the bounds of legality), and the Hell’s Angels revving their bikes to drown out the cult. All of these are legal because while the Westboro cult has a right to speak, they have no right to be heard.

This is the same tact people should take with racists of all stripes. Tune them out, or drown them out. Don’t engage in violence. Don’t stoop to that level. Do not engage on that frequency. The trouble makers on all sides want that. Don’t fall for it. Don’t get distracted by it. I’m not excusing racism, either — I’m arguing against violence and falling into the trap.

Here’s what I mean: trouble makers on both sides of the riots Saturday are using what happened to play victim, to gain support, even to raise money. Whichever side you are opposed to is currently pointing to bad stuff that happened to their side — and not everyone hurt on either side started fights — and using that. “Look at what these Nazis/Antifa did to us! We need to fight!” The people who gain from that strife are not outraged today. They aren’t upset. They’re grinning all the way to the bank, even if that bank is just the bank of lulz.

Don’t feed that bullshit. Don’t empower the government to squash “offensive” speech — you have no idea who will be offended by what in the future. Don’t. Do. It. Speak out, instead. Scream from the rooftops, spread your message every legal way, and remain calm. This won’t be won in a violent street fight.

* this is not an attempt at victim blaming in any way — but rather a warning that these unstable folk are dangerous. I tell the kids to watch out for dangerous animals and dangerous strangers, too, but I’d never say it was their fault if some loose dog or loose kidnapper tried to hurt them. Victim-blaming is saying, “well of course she was raped — look at how she’s dressed!” It is not saying, “Ladies, this guy is a registered sex offender and he’s escaped from jail — be on the look-out!” The first is obnoxious. The second is trying to help someone avoid a potentially bad random encounter. If you can’t tell the difference between the two scenarios, you’re too stupid to read my website. Please leave.