24 December 2015

Uncommon Commentary #489: A Right to Riot?

If in no other respect, 2015 has been a good year for persons who seek to abuse the principle of freedom of speech (or, as it is sometimes stated, “expression”; see below).  In April, Baltimore Mayoress Stephanie Rawlings-Blake made the following remarkable remark: “I worked with the police and I instructed them to do everything that they could to ensure that the protesters could exercise their right to free speech.  It is a very delicate balancing act because while we tried to make sure that they were protected from the cars and the other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well.” (“Rawlings-Blake”—I don’t know the reason for the two surnames; perhaps she considers herself to be too important to have just one—has subsequently asserted that she didn’t mean what she might have seemed to be saying, and that her words were taken out of context, but a senior law-enforcement source confirmed that the hyphenated official gave an order for police to desist from performing their duty to protect the law-abiding as riots, arson, and looting erupted.) And Oklahoma City has given Satanist Adam Daniels a permit to, on this Christmas Eve, pour stage blood, treated with sulfur powder and ash, over a statue of the Virgin Mary that stands before St. Joseph Old Cathedral.
Courts have ruled that expression can, at least in some cases, be considered an equivalent of speech; if someone wanted to, for example, create a painting with a political message (such as, in my judgment, the depiction of the burning of a flag [v.i.]), it would be his prerogative to do so.  A painting, however, is a product of creative rather than destructive expression; positing a constitutional or human right to lay waste to a neighborhood, or to commit public desecration (presumably on private property), or to put a torch to a flag, is like arguing that one has the right to slash a painting by someone else.
Lastly: If violating someone else’s rights indeed is subsumed under free speech, I propose that Christians in Oklahoma City pour stage blood, treated with sulfur powder and ash, over Adam Daniels!