The Right To Assemble - Are protests getting out of hand?
Greetings to all. In February, time permitting, I plan to have a video blog post on the second Monday of the month. Over time, I have received a few emails from people frustrated about protests and what is being protested. I must add that I am also getting frustrated with all the protests and how people approach them. That said, we must understand that protesting has long been considered a fundamental aspect of democratic societies and a constitutional right for people to assemble. The First Amendment states:
First Amendment: 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.
This provides a platform for people to express their grievances, request change, and advocate for the important issues they believe in. Protests have played an important role in our society and addressing progress, from the historic movements of the Civil Rights Movement and Women's Rights Movement to more recent events such as Black Lives Matter and the war in Ukraine and Israel. However, the nature of protests has also evolved. And have evolved over time. This results from many factors, including the influence of social, political, and technological developments. For this post, we will explore this topic in more depth to better understand it. Before I continue, let's not forget the right to protest is based on a PEACEFUL assembly. One in which does not cause violence, harm, or damage to life, limb, or property.
Before I continue. Let's make one point perfectly clear:
OUR FOUNDING FATHERS DID NOT WRITE THE FIRST AMENDMENT, WHICH, IN PART, PROTECTS OUR RIGHT TO PEACEFUL PROTEST AND ASSEMBLE WHICH INCLUDES NOT BREAKING THE LAW.
To accurately interpret protests, we must consider the historical context in which they occur. These include socio-political conditions, economic issues, and systemic injustice. These are a few of the issues that act as a catalyst for mobilization.
Many protesters are just there out of curiosity and often get caught up in what is happening. Not to mention the outside groups that join in the cause havoc and insight violence.
Considering that protests are supposed to be peace demonstrations, let us take the 2020 protests across the country. It is estimated that the combination of arson, vandalism, property damage, and looting resulted in about $1-2 billion in insured damage between May 26th. and June 8th. (REFERENCE)
Also, there were about 574 violent riots in 2020, with more than 2000 police officers being injured. (REFERENCE)
Now for the interpretation. Like most, we all watched the reporting of these protests on the news. What I found interesting was the reporter that would stand there in front of a camera while people in the background were burning cars, buildings, and looting, and call it a PEACEFUL protest. This and social media is a perfect example of technological developments. Everyone knows we have a biased media network system. That is sad since it goes against the basic principles of good journalism. Denzel Washington once stated in an interview, "If you don't read the newspaper, you are uninformed. If you do read it, you're misinformed. What are the long-term effects of too much information? One of the effects is the need to be first. Not even to be true anymore. What a responsibility you all have. To tell the truth, not just to be first."
These are valid words and make perfect sense. We continue to see this even today. Based on their bias, the news media report things as they see them rather than for what they are. I don't believe that anyone would think that causing harm, damage, or injury to anything or anyone would consider that a peaceful protest or demonstration. Therefore, we have a misinterpretation problem.
The next problem is how we deal with these issues. Our government leaders are not taking control of the situation for fear of what others may think. Breaking the law is breaking the law. PERIOD. It must come with consequences. These types of protests have local and global impacts. Therefore, the media plays a pivotal role in shaping public perception of protests through, bias, omissions, distortion of the facts, and proper presentation of how protests are sensationalized.
This also goes for social media platforms that reap the benefit of not being able to be sued yet will control the opinions of people who make posts that may be against their beliefs. Is this democracy? Sadly, our government talks about changing regulations regarding these issues, but never does it. Yet, they scream about the threat to our democracy. Should our political leaders not address injustice when it suits their narrative? Therefore, it is clear that there is an interpretation problem when it comes to protests. Also, protests get out of hand because there are little to no consequences when they become out of hand. The first job of every elected official is to PROTECT its citizens. Many in this present administration fail miserably in that regard.
PROTESTS AND OPINIONS:
Protests are about a person or group of people expressing their opinion. An opinion they have a right to have. We don't have to agree with their opinion, but we must respect that they like you, they have a right to their own opinion. The problem arises in how they express it. I believe that most people understand that concept. However, the proper steps are not taken when things get out of control. Therefore, I ask you, are protests getting out of hand?
Let me give you an example. At the present time, there are global protests regarding Israel. However, let's take a look at the facts.
On October 7th. 2023, Israel was brutally attacked by Hamas,
Israel has the right to defend herself,
This has been going on for decades on a much smaller scale,
After Israel started to respond to this attack, many people switched their support from Israel to Hamas and the Palestinian people.
War is never easy, and there is always collateral damage. When the United States was attacked on 9-11, people wanted revenge. Why should Israel feel any different? However, we must respect how others feel, even though some may not agree. Personally, I disagree. My thoughts are simple. Supporting any terrorist group is never an option. I support the freedom of the Palestinian people, NOT Hamas or any other terrorist group.
Through this conflict, we are now seeing American soldiers sustaining numerous attacks, which are currently resulting in injuries. We have an administration that is weak and not taking the necessary measures to send a clear and present message to these terrorist groups. This also sends the wrong message to the world regarding our country's resolve. In turn, this affects our safety and national security.
I ask you this. Although on a smaller scale, If you were home and someone tried to get into your home to cause you harm, take your children, or kill you, how far would you go to defend yourself? Furthermore, if you did, and people protested your actions, how would that make you feel? You see, it's easy to judge others for their actions until it happens to you.
The political climate of any country heavily influences the dynamics of protests. Political events such as elections, policy decisions, and government actions can act as triggers for many protests. Again, this is fine as long as the protests remain peaceful. However, when you have large groups of people and outside influences inciting violence, this often leads to the problems we see. Until our leaders take the proper action to stop this type of violence, it will continue, and as time goes by, it will escalate.
Our country has become a nation that does not enforce the law out of fear of how people will react to elected officials at election time. We are a country of laws. Laws which need to be enforced without worrying about the political fallout. Our political system has become about personal political agendas rather than what is best for the safety of its citizens. Our southern border is a perfect example. A lack for failure of a proper response to the attacks on our troops is another example.
Why do our leaders allow these types of violent protests while they arrest people in local town meetings for disrupting a meeting due to expressing their views? Does this make it appear as if our justice system is broken? Do we pick and choose what laws we are going to enforce and which ones we are not? Look at some of our large cities, which were once beautiful cities that now have looters going in, taking what they want, and walking out the front door. Businesses are closing, and neighborhoods are deteriorating. People are moving out of these cities for fear of living there. All as a result of political agendas. What is the primary job of the President of the United States or any locally elected official? Their primary job is to protect the citizens. A job where many are failing. This leads to unrest and grave concerns by many regarding our future and the future of generations to come.
This is a deep topic that cannot be totally covered in a basic blog post. However, I tried to highlight and provide references to cover the main issues. In conclusion, protests serve as a powerful tool for citizens to express their grievances, voice their concerns, and demand social and political change. This article has highlighted the different types of protests, ranging from peaceful demonstrations to violent riots, that have occurred.
These principles apply to any type of protest, regardless of the reason for protesting. Additionally, the role of social media and technology in organizing and spreading awareness about protests cannot be overstated. Despite the difficulties, protests have proven to be reasons for significant changes in society. Some led to new laws, policies, and reforms. It is important to acknowledge that protests are a basic aspect of democratic societies, allowing citizens to actively participate in shaping their own future. As we move forward, it is crucial for governments, institutions, and individuals to listen to the voices of protestors and work towards addressing the underlying issues that fuel these public demonstrations. However, this only occurs through peaceful protests and demonstrations. Violence only distracts from the issues. Only through a genuine effort to understand protestors' demands and engage in productive communications can these differences be worked out. Thank you.
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Live with an open mind,
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Live your best life.
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