The outcry, especially the reflexive yammering idiots commenting at HuffPo, over these dancing buffoons is annoying. People are responding to this as though it were Kent State or the ’68 Democratic National Convention all over again.
Let’s be clear. These flash mob protesters were engaged in an act of civil disobedience to protest a ruling by the Federal Court in the case of Mary Brooke Oberwetter, who was arrested for dancing inside the Jefferson Memorial.
The court held that “…expressive dancing “falls into the spectrum” of prohibited activities—including demonstrations, picketing and speechmaking—at the memorial.” The rules, the court said, ban conduct that has the “propensity to draw onlookers.”
The point of the decision is that the government has a proper interest in maintaining an atmosphere of tranquility and quiet reflection within that space. Political protest (among other forms of expression) is not conducive to that atmosphere and is, therefore, not permitted.
The general feeling among the righteously indignant seems to be based on a few points: that the protesters were “only dancing” and that “the people have the RIGHT to assemble and protest” – that any infringement upon that right is equivalent to jack booted thugs inflicting a police state.
Fuck, I hate stupid people.
First of all, I’m willing to lay long odds and take heavy action that if the protesters had been members of the Westboro Baptist Church, waving their “God Hates Fags” placards around and yammering how god hates America, loves dead American soldiers and everyone is doomed to hell, none of the blithering imbeciles screaming about rights would have the slightest objection to seeing them bodyslammed.
Fortunately, the right to peacefully assemble and protest is not limited only to those persons with whom we agree. Rights are not only worthy of protection when we find the subject and content of the message laudable or socially virtuous.
If you are going to open up the Jefferson Memorial to dancing assholes, you have to open it up to facist assholes, racist assholes and theocratic assholes. The WBC, neo-Nazis, anti-abortionists and doofs who want to silently dance all have the same right to protest…and none of them are permitted to do so within the Jefferson Memorial.
No one is preventing these idiots (“I can dance where I want to, man!”) from assembling, protesting, or dancing to their heart’s content. They are simply restricted from inflicting their political protest on others within that space. Similarly, anti-abortion protesters may stand across the street from the clinic – they have no right to enter the building; neo-Nazis may don their offensive SS uniforms and Zeig Heil up and down the street in front of a synangogue – they may not enter the shul; the WBC may protest down the street from the funeral of a deceased soldier – they are not permitted at the grave site, and these dancing fools have an almost infinite number of places to get their groove on – they simply cannot do so inside the memorial.
The right to assemble and protest is not unfettered. No right is absolute. Not the right to life (self-defense); not the right to liberty (incarceration after conviction at trial); not the right to free speech (incitement to riot or murder), and the places where rights may be exercised are quite properly limited. Imagine these twits wanted to dance inside a Catholic church in protest of decades of child sexual abuse and the years of cover-up. As much as I support their position, the church has an absolute right to say, “No, you must leave.”
People are allowed to protest on the sidewalk in front of the White House (I don’t know if permits are required…but in any event, people do protest there). Climb the fence and, despite the White House being “The People’s House”, you will encounter a very large, very serious man who will tie your trachea in a reef knot.
America is, allegedly, a nation of laws. The law is clear and the court has specifically addressed this very activity. Break the law, and you will be arrested. When you are given a lawful order by a police officer, OBEY IT. Failure to comply will have consequences, and a determination that being bodyslammed amounts to excessive force will only occur after you’ve been bodyslammed.
Anyone who’s concerned about the erosion of rights in America and points to this pathetic little display as evidence is a moron. In the wake of the Patriot Act, Gitmo, warrantless wiretapping, illegal renditions, the TSA body scanners and pat downs, the erosion of habeous corpus, not to mention torture, getting bent over some prancing idiots who are inflicting their silly crap on everyone else seems shallow and ridiculous.
I’ve even seen people try to compare this to Jim Crowe laws, Rosa Parks, and women’s suffrage. For fuck sakes…get over it, Gertrude!
The law is clear: No dancing inside the Jefferson Memorial. Violate the law and you will be arrested. Resist lawful orders from the police and you may wind up with a civil action for excessive force. Whether anyone wins that argument is another matter, but the premise remains: Dance in that space – get arrested. This flashmob and their foolish infliction of their “rights” on everyone else is nothing more than supreme arrogance and petty, juvenile behaviour rooted in a stunning degree of ignorance and bourgeois entitlement.