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The Left has a rather schizophrenic attitude toward protests and demonstrations. Some are wonderful, like the George Floyd riots, which were not, in fact, protests at all. Or like arson and other destruction committed at pro-life facilities. Others are detestable, like the Dutch farmers’ protests, or the French “yellow vests,” or the Canadian truckers. Some protests, too, can only be ignored, like when hundreds of thousands of pro-life citizens show up for their annual march in Washington.
Currently the Left is “demonstrating” against the Supreme Court justices who concurred in the Dobbs decision. A few nights ago, as Scott has noted, left-wingers harassed Justice Brett Kavanaugh and other diners at the Morton’s steak house in D.C. Liberals viewed this effort as a triumph–Kavanaugh reportedly had to exit out a back door–and a pro-Democratic Party organization is now offering cash bounties to anyone who sees a conservative justice out in public in time for a flash mob to assemble.
When asked about such tactics, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was nonplussed. These are peaceful demonstrations, she replied, the very essence of democracy!
Actually, they are manifestations of the totalitarian impulse. One defining feature of a totalitarian regime is that everything is political. There is no such thing as private life. This is what today’s liberals believe. Thus, a conservative politician or, in this case, Supreme Court justice–keep in mind that the same tactics were used against members of the Executive Branch in the Trump administration–is not permitted to go out to dinner, or otherwise appear in public, with his or her family. There is no space for mutual respect, or even tolerance, of citizens with whom the Left disagrees. They must be destroyed, and their lives made miserable. There is nothing “democratic” about this. It is the stuff of Stalinism.
And, of course, all of this discussion takes place in the context of at least one assassination attempt against Justice Kavanaugh, the same man who was falsely and relentlessly smeared by the Democratic Party during his confirmation hearings. I think the leaders of the Democratic Party are well aware that their over-the-top attacks on conservative justices, and the kinds of harassment we have seen in recent days, are likely to lead to more assassination attempts. I think leaders of the Democratic Party hope that one or more conservative justices will be assassinated while Joe Biden is still (at least nominally) president, so that he can appoint a left-wing successor. I think this is why Attorney General Merrick Garland refuses to enforce 18 U.S.C. § 1507, which bans demonstrations at the homes of judges that attempt to influence their decisions. And I think this is why the Biden administration cheers on the mobs who harass conservatives in public places.
If this assessment seems harsh, ask yourself: what other hypothesis is consistent with the Democrats’ actions?
So, are protests and demonstrations good or bad? I think they are good–that is to say, consistent with our Constitution’s framework of ordered liberty–when they are peaceful (not “mostly peaceful”), when they are conducted in public places with proper permitting, and when they do not explicitly or implicitly threaten anyone. Citizens have a right to assemble peaceably, not to form themselves into mobs. They do not have a right to commit mayhem, to destroy property, or to threaten, menace, or unreasonably inconvenience others. Unfortunately, the “protests” that the Left likes most usually fall in the latter category. Let’s just hope they don’t result in even more catastrophic violence than we have already witnessed.