So, acting upon President Obama’s recommendation, I went out to Amazon to purchase a Glock (Kindle version), and what do you know? He was right! It downloaded to my phone in mere seconds! For free!
Then, because my phone had a brand new Glock on it, and – frankly – because of the mood I was in, I went over to YouTube to watch a few videos of cars pushing their way through #BlackLivesMatter protesters blocking highways and such.
And I tell you… the comments sections – whew! – what a rush! Positively uplifting! Just like so many other YouTube comments you might run into, they really rekindle (no pun intended) one’s hope in humanity.
Speaking of which…
I'm sick of people calling these protesters-blocking-traffic stunts "peaceful protests".
No, they're not.
These protests create intentionally-manufactured dangerous situations. They're very hostile! Innocent people get dragged out of their cars and beaten at these things (See also: Reginald Denny), and even when this kind of attack doesn't happen, that specific danger and many others are ever-present.
I watched one protest video (in this particular case I don’t think it was a #BLM one, but the resulting lessons still apply) where the protesters wore those stupid “V-for-Vendetta” Guy Fawkes masks and blocked the road using stolen metal parking lot price signs. Of course one driver decided to eventually power through the line, absolutely outraging the protesters who cursed, cried and whined, especially a girl who (apparently) got a tad bumped. The protesters acted SO SURPRISED and offended when the driver decided he’d had enough of their nonsense. They were completely taken aback that, while standing in a road blocking traffic, one of them just might come into contact with a driver who didn’t want to meekly play along.
Let’s think about this for a moment… What did the drivers see? They saw a bunch of masked, irresponsible, openly hostile, repeatedly vulgar, openly obvious thieves who were blocking them, at night, while cursing them, and by their very illegal presence threatening them.
The protesters were forcefully - key word there "forcefully" - imposing their will on the innocent and otherwise non-involved drivers who were deterred from extracting themselves from the situation, or even really moving at all, by the risk of damaging their cars or running over the overgrown children. They were being illegally and forcefully detained against their will and thus their status and value as bargaining chips was essentially that of prisoners or kidnap victims, however briefly.
That may sound like hyperbole, but it’s not.
As a general rule, kidnap victims and those being detained against their will by persons other than the lawful authorities, are well within their legal rights to act violently if such violence is necessary to regain their freedom and safety. One driver apparently knew that (although whether legally or instinctively there’s no way to tell), so for that man it eventually became "pedal-to-the-metal time".
I personally would have preferred to see the whole front line of cars move as one, slowly but irresistibly forward when the light changed, but I understand their reluctance to damage their vehicles by running over stolen signs.
OF COURSE I got into an argument online with someone over this – imagine that! Knock you over with a feather, I bet – and the most strident point my opponent tried to make was that "most of the protesters were 'peaceful' and intended no harm".
That just means they’re stupid. Or to be more graceful, that simply means they hadn’t thought things all the way through.
I'm sure a lot of the protesters – and I’d be willing to go as far as stipulating "most to the point of being nearly all" of them - had no intention of doing any harm. I would also suggest that this doesn't matter in the slightest because they failed to recognize that what they were doing in and of itself constituted “harm”.
And by the way, I have some criticism for the authorities on this point as well. It seems whenever cops see a bunch of protesters blocking a freeway but otherwise behaving themselves and acting “peacefully”, the cops call it a “peaceful protest” and are seemingly baffled about how to proceed since they’re MUCH more comfortable responding to violence than initiating it. That's understandable, BUT I respectfully disagree with any law enforcement officer who holds this mindset. I'd much rather they "called a spade a spade" (that is NOT a racial comment, by the way), while still pointing out that I’m staunchly pro-cop (provided we’re talking about law-abiding cops here). They usually seem to be fooled by the apparent calmness while not realizing (or overlooking) that the traffic block is a hostile act.
Granted, they may actually be fully aware of the ramifications but would prefer to let some infractions slide in the interest of not escalating things into uncontrolled violence, and if so then that's pretty wise. But I still wish they'd label the activity for what it is.
The key here is this little thing called “criminal intent” or “mens rea” if you’re a legal type, which is abbreviated Latin for “the intention or knowledge of wrongdoing that constitutes part of a crime, as opposed to the action or conduct of the accused.” Or if you prefer the longer version: actus reus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea, which means "the act is not culpable unless the mind is guilty" (Thank you, Wikipedia).
You see, unlike an avalanche, or a flash flood, or a nasty traffic accident, or the police temporarily blocking an intersection to let a funeral procession go by, or any other situation you can think of where there is no criminal intent involved in the creation of an impediment to travel, in the case of road-blocking protesters you have a perfectly good road INTENTIONALLY (mens rea qualifier) being blocked.
For the purposes of having a road to travel on, an avalanche or a flash flood creates the equivalent of having “no road”. It usually isn't really evidence of a crime to suddenly encounter "no road". Sure, the road might still be there under tons of rock and dirt, or underwater, but as far as “usable road” is concerned, it effectively ceases to exist at the obstruction’s boundary. And since Nature cannot be demonstrated to have specific intent (or have an address to which tickets can be mailed, much less fit inside a jail) people stuck on highways blocked by such natural tantrums cannot be accurately described as being literally held hostage. “Figuratively”, yes, but not literally.
Traffic-blocking protesters however, no matter how calmly and peacefully their actions may be executed, are performing the overtly hostile act of forcefully imposing their will (they just "gotta have their way") upon others who as a result end up trapped. The drivers can't safely go forward, backwards, sideways, or have any option to leave and not participate. Since such people are being illegally detained against their will, and since the perpetrators are doing it on purpose, then as mild as the vast majority of these events may seem, they really are a form of "hostage taking". Those protesters who - and I'm being generous here - HONESTLY insist they have no intent to cause harm, must not realize the severity of their infractions.
I’m willing to bet that the vast majority of protester claiming "we were just peacefully blocking the road" would probably have no patience or even capacity to understand that that statement is a conflict in terms. But it is. Again, and I'm sorry to belabor this point, but no matter how peacefully they try to do it, the act of blocking roads is inescapably hostile and harmful. The protesters who “mean no harm” likely do not comprehend what they're doing, but that doesn’t alter the fact that they know what they're doing is illegal, and they ARE doing it on purpose.
If you're a protester, and you want to get your message out, then line the roads on both sides, hold your signs up high, and make as much noise as you can. You'll get a LOT more people to see your message than if you just blocked the forward progress of the front line of cars. Otherwise, from a couple of vehicles back through the traffic jam over the horizon, nobody else stuck in traffic will be able see your message and wouldn't be sympathetic if they could.
But if you insist upon blocking a road, prepare to get hit.
And don’t claim you’re the aggrieved party when it happens.