Thursday, July 29, 2010

Nobody's Right If Everybody's Wrong

There's battle lines being drawn
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind
I think it's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
--Buffalo Springfield, For What It's Worth

When I was 10 years old there were battle lines being drawn. We had a politicians war, unrest in the streets, the sexual revolution--I'm glad I was too young to be in the front lines for that one--and students shot down on campus at Kent State. And sometimes when battle lines are being drawn, when sides are chosen up, and when "paranoia strikes deep" it is easy to forget the principles for which we stand because we tend to be "sayin' Hurray for our side."
It happened then.
And now, 40 years later, it's happening again. Intensity is growing, anger is deepening, and we know that choosing a side is not voluntary. If we don't choose, the line will cross us. And in this kind of climate, it is very easy to forget the principles for which we stand in order to keep saying "Hurray for our side."

A small incident in Albuquerque last week illustrates very well that "nobody's right when everybody's wrong." And how those conditions can create a climate where the temptation is to not think, but to "ditto-head" all the way to the end of the Republic.

This morning I received one of those "I won't back down" e-mails. The message was that something happened here last week, and if I wasn't angry about it, why I didn't belong on the mailer's mailing list. But as I read the story and watched the video it became apparent that this was not exactly a case of cop bashing in innocent protestors. But neither was it a case of innocent cop being harrassed by Weathermen Underground wanna be's. Although I think the protestors were more in the wrong, the cop was not exactly a model of mature rectitude and professionalism.
But I am getting ahead of myself. Judge for yourself.

What Happened:
There was a heavy metal concert, Rob Zombies, at the new Hard Rock Cafe Albuquerque, which is not in Albuquerque at all; it is at the Casino on the Isleta Pueblo. Apparently, some Christians disapprove greatly of metal, or maybe of any rock music, because a small group of them appeared with signs and an attitude and stood a few yards away from the concert goers who were standing in line waiting to be admitted. The Christians, not content to carry signs that told the crowd they were going to hell, were also telling the people in the crowd that they were going to hell. Loudly. And did I say with attitude? The crowd was getting angry and shouting a few choice words back at the Christians. Enter a young deputy sheriff, J. Goff. He told the Christians that this was private property and that they would have to leave. The Christians began to argue with him, claiming a non-existent right to free speech and presence on private property. The deputy persisted. The Christians continued to both incite the concert-going crowd and argued with the deputy. With attitude. The concert goers began to look as if they were getting ready to throw things at the Christians. The deputy told them once again it was private property and that they had to leave "right now" or they'd be arrested. As the Christians finally began to leave, video-taping all the way, they also began to tell Deputy Goff that he need to repent or go to hell. Goff--apparently channeling attitude from the Christians--began to mock them saying that he was an unbeliever and that there is no god. He also incited the concert crowd further, asking them if they wanted the Christians to leave or stay.

There was Attitude. There was Unprofessional Behavior. Christians were violating private property rights. A deputy was acting like a snotty teen-ager.
Nobody was right. Everybody was hot.

You can read the story here. (The local paper didn't cover it, though there was a discussion on one of the local afternoon drive talk-shows). There is a You-Tube video associated with the story and that can also be found here. The video was taken by the Christians and in this case, sadly, shows the depths of their ignorance of individual rights. And even more sadly shows the shallowness of the deputy's understanding of his job.

But given the powder keg our nation is sitting on now, we have to keep our heads, and our principles. This is not a free-state vs. police state issue. This is an issue of private property rights and the initiation of force against concert goers by inconsiderate Christians. And I believe that in the present incendiary climate, we cannot get hot under the collar, we cannot be spoiling for a fight while ignoring our principles.

So when the guy who e-mailed me and a dozen or so others, saying:
"There's so going to be a fight" and " if this doesn't make you really, really mad then let me know so I can remove you from my address book",
I sat down and wrote a letter back to the whole list.
Because I refuse to be required to agree with the emotion of the day, and allow it to cloud reasoned defense of principle. Because we can't afford to start a fight over anything less than bedrock principles. And even then, we cannot afford to throw the first punch.

Here is what I wrote:

Given what was said in the WND article--and shown in the video--both the deputy and the protestors were in the wrong. The protestors do not have a constitutional right to trespass on private property for any purpose, but must have the permission of the property owners in order to protest. Clearly they did not, as they had not purchased tickets, and the law was called in to enforce the property rights of the property owners. Being Christian does not excuse one from the responsibility to respect the right to life, liberty and property of others.

However, the deputy needed to handle the situation in a professional manner, and his personal beliefs should have had nothing to do with the situation at all. It really should not have mattered why the protestors were violating the private property rights of the Hard Rock Cafe, only that they were.

It is clear from the beginning of the video that the protestors did not respect the private property of the Hard Rock Cafe, and they had not purchased the right to be on that property in the form of a ticket. Such a purchase is a contract, which requires the ticket-holder to follow the policies of the business that owns the property. The protestors were not only violating property rights; they were also inciting the crowd attending the concert, and the concert goers were responding, and the situation was escalating. In such situations, one particularly nasty gesture or statement could begin a riot. Crowds are not rational. The protestors were not only endangering the concert goers, they were endangering themselves. In such situations, a peace officer has the obligation to get the offenders--in this case the protestors--off the property as quickly as possible. When the protestors heard that they were invading the private property of another, they had the obligation to obey the peace officer or face arrest.

However, by injecting his personal beliefs into the situation, this deputy needlessly increased the tension and insulted all citizens (those who were present and those who were not) who pay his salary. Those citizens have a right to complain about the situation. At the same time, the citizens can request a particular disciplinary action, but they cannot demand it. Peace Officers, like any other laborer, sell their time to the employer--in this case, Bernalillo County--via contract. That contract will generally refer to departmental policies for discipline. The department and Bernalillo County are therefore obligated by contract to follow those policies, which may or may not allow for the deputy to be fired. Those conditions may (and probably do) have contingencies for the type of offense, as well as the record of the officer. The officer also most likely has the right to a disciplinary hearing, and legal representation, as well as arbitration, should he believe that the discipline received is not according to contract.

Overall, this situation was very different from the situation in Michigan in which Christian protestors were handing out copies of a bible to Muslims on a public street. There, the Christians were on public property, and they were not initiating force against anyone; the crowds there were able to refuse the interaction, which is their right.

As Patriots who respect the Constitution, it is incumbent upon all of us to respect the rights of others, to behave in a civil manner and to respect the law that protects our rights. As human beings, it is incumbent upon us to treat other individuals with good will, and to abjure the initiation of force against them and to respect their liberty to disagree with us. Being a Christian does not entitle anyone to violate property rights and incite a crowd. To say otherwise is to sanction mob rule, which is the opposite of the Republic based upon individual rights and the Rule of Law that has been bequeathed to us. All of us must respect the rights of others, including their right to disagree with us peacefully. We must be very careful to exemplify in every way the values that we claim to represent.

Since I am not a Christian, I cannot say what Christian ethics would require in this situation. But I can say that Christians do the Patriot movement no favors if they refuse to respect the rights of individuals who do not subscribe to their sect's particular beliefs. It is clear from the World Net Daily story that some Christians believe that Heavy Metal music is sinful, and others don't.

As a mother, though, I would say that good manners and polite discussion and persuasive arguments are more likely to get the attention of those one disagrees with than rudeness and force. Or as my first-grade teacher used to say, "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." We all get passionate from time to time, but that does not mean it is the best method of persuasion in every time and place.

So many people claim that they stand for liberty, for individual rights, and for the American values. But so many of them appear to have no idea what liberty is, or what individual rights mean. They believe that it is permissible to violate the rights of others because they have "the truth" and therefore can force it upon everyone else. They believe that their rights supercede the rights of others--that rights do not belong equally to all individuals.

These Christian kids were not only initiating force against the property owner, they also videotaped their lack of respect for the rights of the concert goers, their lack of good manners, and they also revealed their embarrassing lack of fundamental knowlege about freedom and liberty. They have the right to free speech--absolutely. But the property owners are not slaves. They are not required to provide protesters with a platform to make that speech.

The concert goers have a right to choose their activity and engage in it without being verbally assaulted without recourse. They paid for the privilege of enjoying that right on the private property of the Hard Rock Cafe. And because of that payment, the Hard Rock Cafe was obligated to remove protestors.

"Paranoia strikes deep,
And into your life it will creep.
It begins when you're always afraid . . ."

If we are to restore the Republic, we must be zealous defenders of liberty. We cannot create paranoia within ourselves by convincing ourselves that peace officers are against us, without considering the parameters of the law. We must stand on the principle that every individual enjoys that same liberty that we expect, even if we do not like him or agree with his activities and choices. We have no right to initiate force against him. And we must know and practice the core principles that created our liberty.


Anonymous said...

Wait...these are grownups? Wow.

My dh's response to people who told him he was going to hell: "See ya there!!!"


Brig Young said...

Great Article as always.

I am a Christian and I am reminded of the words of Christ: "How can you remove the mote from your brother's eye when you have a BEAM in your own eye..." Better to make sure you are a fine upstanding servant of Christ first. I am also reminded of the parable of the ungrateful debtor, who after being forgiven of a great debt that required he be imprisoned for life he turns around and condemns his neighbor to prison for failing to pay a small pittance. We ALL owe Christ a debt we cannot repay, better to let others slide than to piss him off and lose your own claim of mercy.

"Christians" that do things like this are no Christians at all. Christ also said that when you find two men in contention amongst themselves, there is the devil right between them, egging them on.

I'm a sinner, like all mankind, so I try to not get myself in a knot about the sins of others as long as they are not harming someone besides themselves.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Deborah: Can I steal your husband's line? It's perfect.

Brig: Thanks.
You and I disagree on a number of things including to whom we owe thanks, and the doctrine of original sin. But we both agree that we do ourselves no favors by the kind of behavior exibited in that video!
You have added what Christian ethics might say about this. Thanks.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Brig: An itty bitty bone to pick. You wrote:
'"Christians" that do things like this are no Christians at all.'

This is an intentional logical fallacy--a fallacy of ambiguity--that is often called the "no true Scotsman' fallacy. It is an attempt to deny an assertion by shifting the argument to one of defintion. Generally, the 'no true Scotsman' defense targets a previous general assertion, such as "All Scotsmen like Haggis." But in your use of it, it does not even do that. I asserted that the protesters were Christians. And they are, but I did not assert that all Christians act like they did. In this case, I am afraid that you used the 'no true Scotsman' fallacy to defend your own generalization (unspoken) that all Christians would be incapable of such behavior.

I will just put it this way: I accept the protesters' self-identification as Christians based on the evidence they provided. Unfortunately, not all Christians are logical or even polite.

Harper said...

Well done. What I want to know is when the Christian group decided that casino's are supposed to be a center of moral rectitude.