The bureaucratization of protest

by on March 3, 2017 at 12:13 am in Current Affairs, History, Law, Political Science | Permalink

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one excerpt:

Take the famed Selma civil-rights marchers of 1965, when the protesters had obtained the legal right, through petition, to conduct a 52-mile, five-day march down an interstate highway. Of course, that blocked the highway and inconvenienced many motorists and truckers. America’s NIMBY mentality would most likely prevent a comparable event today.

Starting in the 1970s, the federal courts began to assert that public spaces are not automatically fair game for marches and demonstrations, and so local governments have sought to please the users of such facilities rather than marchers and protesters. For instance, during the 2004 Democratic National Convention, numerous would-be demonstrators ended up being confined to a “demonstration zone,” which one federal judge described as analogous to Piranesi’s etchings of a prison. The zone was ringed by barricades, fences and coiled razor wire.

Here is the closer:

Could we not have kept public demonstrations and protests more alive as a vital and nonbureaucratized tradition?

For a long time, most people ignored this issue, but I wonder if it won’t start to seem urgent once again.

Do read the whole thing.

1 steveslr March 3, 2017 at 12:18 am

Don’t worry: when today’s college students get into power, they aren’t going to allow anyone to say anything they don’t like.

Watch this video of Charles Murray trying to speak today at super-preppy Middlebury College:

http://www.unz.com/isteve/preppiest-college-in-america-shouts-down-charles-murrays-speech/

2 Christian Hansen March 3, 2017 at 1:20 am

This enrages me but I’m pretty sure it isn’t new. According to S. Pinker in The Blank Slate, they did this to E.O. Wilson in the 70s.

3 prior_test2 March 3, 2017 at 2:16 am

Yep, sociobiology being just considered a synonym for an older term. Luckily, though, people like Sailer are clever another to at least try to find new bottles for old wine – for example starting something like the Human Biodiversity Discussion Group ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Sailer )

But much like the AfD in Germany, strangely such noble attempts to create political action attract supporters who can be easily confused with those that hold old-fashioned views. Almost as if that was the point, if one is cynically minded.

4 Adrian Ratnapala March 4, 2017 at 2:54 am

Thank you for confirming, in a short post, that you do not in fact make sense. I can’t be bothered reading your long posts closely enough to be sure of this.

If I can make any sense of this at all, you are trying to call AfD, S. Sailer and EO Wilson Nazis.

Is that what you are doing? I can’t be sure. Since after all, your actual words don’t make any sense.

5 Nathanael March 3, 2017 at 4:03 am

Well, Murray’s a lying racist. He has freedom of speech; that doesn’t mean he has the right to speak *unopposed*. If he talks bullshit (as he inevitably does), he deserves heckling.

Speakers in the 19th century understood and expected heckling. When did right-wing speakers become such sensitive, delicate snowflakes?

6 tjamesjones March 3, 2017 at 4:15 am

sure Nathanael, but it’s not really heckling is it, it’s just shouting over him to stop him speaking.

7 steveslr March 3, 2017 at 8:12 pm

From today’s New York Times:

But when Mr. Murray rose to speak, he was shouted down by most of the more than 400 students packed into the room, several witnesses said. Many turned their backs to him and chanted slogans like “Racist, sexist, anti-gay, Charles Murray go away!”

After almost 20 minutes, it was clear that he would not be able to give his speech, said Mr. Burger, the spokesman. Anticipating that such an outcry might happen, Mr. Murray was moved to a separate room equipped with a video camera so that Allison Stanger, a Middlebury professor of international politics and economics, could interview him over a live stream. Mr. Burger said the administration felt strongly that Mr. Murray’s right to free speech should be protected and that “no one should have the heckler’s veto.”

Once the interview began in the second room, protesters swarmed into the hallway, chanting and pulling fire alarms. Still, the interview was completed and officials, including Ms. Stanger, escorted Mr. Murray out the back of the building.

There, several masked protesters, who were believed to be outside agitators, began pushing and shoving Mr. Murray and Ms. Stanger, Mr. Burger said. “Someone grabbed Allison’s hair and twisted her neck,” he said.

After the two got into a car, Mr. Burger said, protesters pounded on it, rocked it back and forth, and jumped onto the hood. Ms. Stanger later went to a hospital, where she was put in a neck brace.

Mr. Dublois, the student, said he was disappointed. “To see protests, which really developed into riots — which is what they were — was incredibly shameful and embarrassing.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/03/us/middlebury-college-charles-murray-bell-curve-protest.html

8 Boonton March 4, 2017 at 6:40 am

“sure Nathanael, but it’s not really heckling is it, it’s just shouting over him to stop him speaking.”

Actually that’s exactly what heckling is.

9 Art Deco March 4, 2017 at 11:07 am

No it is not. Heckling has a diologic aspect. Henry Fairlie offered that the last good heckle he’d heard was in 1966 when Harold Wilson went to speak in a by-election campaign in a constituency with Navy yards. He asks a rhetorical question, “why do I emphasize the importance of the Navy tonight?”. Answer from the audience, “Because you’re in bloody Chathan, mate!”.

10 Boonton March 4, 2017 at 3:22 pm

You should heckle substandard heckling then.

11 dan1111 March 3, 2017 at 4:39 am

Absurd comment. The audience is deliberately and directly preventing Murray from exercising his first amendment rights by disrupting his speech. This is not “heckling”.

Not that heckling is so great anyway…it’s an infantile, unproductive expression of disapproval of the speaker. It does nothing to further the debate, nor is it likely to convince those who don’t already agree with the heckler. But that’s ok, because I suppose the point is to annoy someone who “deserves” it and flamboyantly signal which side you one is on, rather than to attempt to win the war of ideas.

12 IVV March 3, 2017 at 6:13 am

Did they actually stop him from speaking, though? The First Amendment protects people’s right to free speech, but that doesn’t obligate anyone to have to listen.

13 dan1111 March 3, 2017 at 6:26 am

Of course if you stop people from being able to hear the speech, you are suppressing the speech.

I’m not saying there is a legal case against the crowd. But their actions clearly show that they do not believe in the principle expressed by the First Amendment.

14 Viking March 3, 2017 at 9:51 am

First amendment is a a restriction on government, not on brats wasting tuition money.

15 Adrian Ratnapala March 4, 2017 at 3:01 am

Viking wins the Internet!

He/She does that by being factually correct. But, as I expect Viking was trying to point out, there is also the moral issue. Just because it’s illegal to be a fuckwit, that doesn’t mean it is OK.

We ought to thank the jurists of America. For an official law, the 1st Amendment and its corresponding case law is an unusually good set of guidelines for proper moral behaviour. Even for those of us who are not legally subject to it.

16 Daniel O'Neil March 3, 2017 at 5:46 pm

That’s not actually what the first amendment says, and that’s not what it means by free speech. Being shouted down in a public forum by other people is not a violation of constitutional rights. Being shouted down by the state is.

17 Boonton March 4, 2017 at 6:47 am

“The audience is deliberately and directly preventing Murray from exercising his first amendment rights by disrupting his speech. This is not “heckling”.”

Charles Murray has had multiple books published, been seen by millions on countless shows being interviewed for long and short periods. Has spoken at many events.

How many in the audience even have a wikipedia page about them? It seems strange to say Murray’s ‘free speech’ is being denied. Are people shouting at each other ‘infantile’? Sure but shout at people is free speech too. Heckling, shouting down has long been a part of many public speaking events. In standup comedy it is part of the process in improving the quality of speech (a good heckler can be more entertaining than a comic who is bombing).

So what is the issue? If you don’t want to hear others shout at Murray, there’s plenty of places where you can hear him interviewed by patient and polite people with no audience at all. If you don’t even want to hear an interviewer disrupt your feed of pure-Murray, you can read his books and articles.

18 albatross March 6, 2017 at 12:33 am

Boonton:

Is this a standard you’re comfortable with in general?

For example, suppose that next week, there is a concert put on by your favorite band. But a group of people who hate theri music and politics shows up at the venue, and with chants and noisemakers and screaming snd setting off fire alarms, makes it impossible for the concert to take place. Now, your favorite band has plenty of albums out, and you can grt them all on Amazon or iTunes. You can hear their whole collection on Youtube. They are often on the radio. So are those protesters really keeping you from anything?

19 Brian Donohue March 3, 2017 at 7:46 am

I join Nathanael in celebrating the stupidization of America.

20 albatross March 3, 2017 at 10:12 am

The best way to think about this sort of thing is to apply the mirror method–imagine the same thing done by the other side to your side.

For example, suppose that the next time Glenn Greenwald tries to give a speech about the overreach of the national security state and the war on terror on a college campus, a dozen ROTC guys disrupt the speech, chant “TRAITOR, TRAITOR,” rush the stage, and generally make the speech impossible to hear or give. People who came to hear the speech find that they don’t get to hear it, because those ROTC guys really strongly object to Greenwald and his association with guys like Snowden, Manning, and Assange. Does this sound okay?

Or, suppose the next time Cecile Richards (head of Planned Parenthood) wants to give a public speech, suppose a dozen fervent pro-lifers show up and disrupt the speech so nobody can hear it. They use noisemakers, scream “BABYKILLER” over and over, trigger the fire alarm, etc. Is that alright?

Or suppose that the next time a trans activist tries to give a speech in public, a crowd of religious conservatives shows up and starts screaming at her that she’s a freak who should get off the stage, that she’s corrupting children, etc. Suppose, once again, that they make the speech impossible to give or listen to. Would that seem like a reasonable outcome?

What I’m asking is not about whether any of these people is worth listening to. Rather, I’m asking what you think the rules of the game should be.

Long term, I think we can end up in a world where unpopular ideas can’t find a venue because their opponents are able to shut them down, and the authorities don’t care to enforce any laws or rules to protect them. I do not think you (or I) will agree much with the set of ideas that get suppressed this way. Religious people outnumber gays by 10:1 or more. Folks deeply offended by the existence of transpeople outnumber folks deeply offended by controversial social scientists by about 100:1. Establish the norm that unpopular people can be shut down by disruption or violence, and that’s the norm we live with–not just for silencing idiots like Milo or serious scholars like Murray, but for silencing people with unpopular views across the board.

21 Art Deco March 3, 2017 at 10:44 am

What I’m asking is not about whether any of these people is worth listening to. Rather, I’m asking what you think the rules of the game should be.

They think the ‘rules of the game’ should be that they get what they want. They’re pretty confident that the opposition is not going to tear up what’s left of the rule book and give them a mouth full of something they don’t want. It’s worked that way for about 50 years now, so their expectations cannot be called unrealistic.

22 albatross March 3, 2017 at 11:04 am

That which cannot go on forever must eventually stop.

23 Art Deco March 3, 2017 at 11:11 am

It can go on for as long as the municipal government takes its cues from the college administration, i.e. for a verrrry long time.

24 Adrian Ratnapala March 4, 2017 at 3:05 am

So you mean the status quo exists because Donald Trump is not mayor of NYC?

25 Art Deco March 4, 2017 at 11:09 am

No, the status quo exists because a succession of red haze twits have been mayor of Berkeley and are in tune with the Berkeley administration’s preference for allowing mobs to suppress dissent, ergo the local police do nothing. This isn’t that difficult.

26 Rich Berger March 3, 2017 at 6:10 pm
27 albatross March 3, 2017 at 6:18 pm

I hope the local police managed to arrest some of the people involved in that criminal assault, and that the local prosecutor charges them. I don’t expect it, but it would be a good thing.

28 Art Deco March 3, 2017 at 7:55 am

It isn’t ‘today’s college students’. It’s a contextually small haut bourgeois rabble acting as agents of the worst elements of the faculty and administration. The rest of the stakeholders at places like Middlebury do nothing, because they are weasels.

These cretins won’t be ‘in power’ anywhere but in academe and the news media. The problem is that weasels are everywhere (especially in occupations which lack robust operational measures of competence).

Interesting to speculate whether ‘Nathaniel’ is paying tuition or drawing a salary.

29 Albigensian March 3, 2017 at 10:07 am

Of course Middlebury College, as a private institution, has no constitutional obligation to respect freedom of speech on its campus (although it may have a contractual obligation to do so, if it has promised students and/or faculty that it will do so).

Nonetheless, the logic of the shout-downers seems to be a claim that since speech they disapprove of makes them feel “unsafe” and since they have a right to safety therefore they have a right (perhaps an obligation) to disrupt such speech- if not for themselves, then perhaps for others who might feel unsafe.

At a minimum, this unwillingness to tolerate speech they find disagreeable reminds me of the daffynition of a Puritan as someone who simply can’t tolerate knowing that someone, somewhere, might be having fun. Our new speech Puritans can’t tolerate knowing that someone, somewhere, might be saying something they have determined should not be said.

After all, if you just don’t want to hear something you could just avoid the event, deploy ear stopples should you find yourself there anyway, etc., etc., rather than choose to delierately take yourself to an event where you expect to hear someone say something you don’t much care for- unless you can prevent them from being heard, of course.

30 Art Deco March 3, 2017 at 11:01 am

this unwillingness to tolerate speech they find disagreeable reminds me of the daffynition of a Puritan as someone who simply can’t tolerate knowing that someone, somewhere, might be having fun

Except that that’s a caricature courtesy H.L. Mencken, not a description of historical Puritans.

I’m going to crib a suggestion from another commenter: the youngsters playing these games are self-dramatizing twits. Their own lives are untroubled and they’ve lived, in comparison to their great-grandparents, soft and sweet lives (if lives polluted by vices their great-grandparents hardly had occasion to ponder). So, they’ve conjured up a Mitty-like fantasy wherein they’re paladins for truth and justice contra …. Charles Murray. See Nathanael’s remarks for what an example of the self-justification employed by these types looks like. They’re just preventing ‘bullsh***’ from being utter, dontcha know. (Now, do you think Nathanael has the chops to critically evaluate Murray’s work? You wanna buy my bridge?).

31 y81 March 3, 2017 at 10:12 am

Tyler doesn’t really know what he thinks about that. I mean, he’s sort of vaguely in favor of free speech, maybe, but college students need to be protected, and maybe it’s rude for Charles Murray to saying controversial things.

32 Troll me March 3, 2017 at 4:58 pm

My free speech rights include the right to express that I think you’re making an exceedingly poor use of your free speech rights.

You might even feel offended. I might even mean it.

Nazi snowflakism seeks to shut down those with grace, for the purpose of spreading hate elsewhere.

33 albatross March 6, 2017 at 12:44 am

Troll Me:

Are you okay accepting exactly the same standard for speakers you agree with? Can the religious conservatives shut down the talk by Dawkins on how religion is a silly bunch of superstitions, without there being any free speech issues?

Again, the question isn’t about the worthiness of the ideas being expressed, it’s about what rules you think we should use, as a society, to handle controversial speech. Because shutting down the other side’s speakers by disrupting a speech is a tactic available to everyone. Similarly, having thugs try to rough up speakers from the other side is a tactic that can be used by people on the right at least as easily as by people on the left.

Having that set of tactics become widely accepted in the US would be a disaster for people with locally unpopular views. It would be easy for this to resolve into no conservative being able to speak in Berkeley, and no liberal being able to speak in Salt Lake City. What I don’t see is why thst would be a good outcome.

34 Troll me March 6, 2017 at 9:48 am

I understand your point.

But you’re talking about people who will very politely, and with a smile on their face as though they are well meaning, say something like “some one or another might kill you if you say/do things like that, but me? No clue who those people might be. Best of luck!”.

And then turn around and whine when someone shows up to yell very clearly and explicitly exactly what they mean and why they mean it.

So, for the specific scenario you pose, yes, I think this should be “not illegal”. However, Dawkins is well within his rights to have security at his events and to eject people from private property that is rented for such purposes. Very often, however, the locations involved are public property by virtue of being on a university, and unless the space is rented by a private group for a private meeting, then the public is allowed to attend.

I do not agree with shouting people down at a public lecture. But I do not agree with not allowing it as a matter of civil or criminal law.

I do very much appreciate the aspect of encouraging to think about it in a way that is consistent without regard to the specific positions being taken on issues.

35 Troll me March 6, 2017 at 9:51 am

For example, no matter what a congregation might protest, a church is a private space in many ways, and so it is very legitimate for them to kick out someone who comes in to trash their religion.

But the opposite does not apply to a Dawkins lecture in a public location. But if Dawkins has a meeting at his atheist club, without excluding possibilities for legitimate protest (e.g., not 7 days a week, not at 3am, say … a few days a year?), then in this private place he is also perfectly within his rights to kick out whoever.

If it is a public place of business, however, and the exclusion is based on gender, sexual orientation or race, this is an altogether different matter.

36 Turkey Vulture March 3, 2017 at 12:36 am

The boomer equivalent of “clicktivism” is that they went and smoked pot at a protest or two (or pretend they did now) and think they brought about civil rights and the end of the Vietnam War.

37 Troll me March 3, 2017 at 5:00 pm

Among those events includes a day where, compared to size of protest and surrounding population., etc., there was far more lethal use of violence than those which occurred at the (deservedly but overly) maligned Tiananmen Square events.

Someone must have believed that those protests were effective at something.

38 skeptic March 3, 2017 at 12:47 am

Tyler,
You are about the least libertarian libertarian out there. It’s trivially obvious that your new-found interest in protest is bc your corporate masters are anti-Trump.

39 prior_test2 March 3, 2017 at 12:53 am

‘your corporate masters are anti-Trump’

Not exactly – Pruitt, to give a concrete example, is ALEC approved. Though we will probably need to check out his private e-mail to see just how deeply that approval goes. Maybe we can ask some Russian hackers to help out? https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/03/02/new-epa-head-told-congress-he-never-used-personal-email-for-government-business-but-it-turns-out-he-did/

40 TMC March 4, 2017 at 11:24 am

“Yet several of Pruitt’s official emails, released in a lawsuit in Oklahoma, were copied to his personal email — an Apple account that was partially blacked out before being released.”

COPIED TO. Does not mean he used it for business use. And, as it seems, does not contain classified information, so no problem.

41 Chip March 3, 2017 at 12:50 am

“Republican lawmakers have introduced bills to curb protesting in at least 17 states, with possibly more to come. I don’t approve,”

To be fair, these bills don’t curb peaceful assembly, but directly address rioting, destruction of property and obstruction of public roads.

At Selma, the protestors were victims of violence. Today the protests are perpetrating violence.

42 Andre March 3, 2017 at 2:40 am

you’d do well to read was written about those protestors at the time. You’ll see the same themes of small numbers of agitators used to paint massive numbers of peaceful protestors as a mob. Then at least they only put dogs and hoses on people, didn’t have spare military armored mine resistant personnel carriers available to the local cops.

43 Brandon Berg March 3, 2017 at 5:38 am

Why do you object to the vehicles being armored and mine-resistant? Either three protestors are trying to blow up police officers and this is justified, or (far more likely) they aren’t and it’s unnecessary. But armor on the cars doesn’t actually harm the protestors. The dogs and hoses, being offensive rather than defensive, are far worse.

44 chuck martel March 3, 2017 at 6:08 am

No one can predict the behavior of a dog or horse in the circumstances in which they are employed in law enforcement. Their use for that purpose is an abomination right out of the Nazi playbook. Dogs, after all, have a very primitive decision-making process, they aren’t able to decide if an individual deserves to be torn to pieces or simply ushered off to the side. Unlike their handlers, they are incapable of volunteering to become exceptionally stupid cops. Their common use in a K-9 capacity is an indictment of the worth of the entire institution of law enforcement.

45 dan1111 March 3, 2017 at 6:35 am

If the dogs are properly in the control of the officer handling them, then it’s not about the decision-making process of the dog. Some evidence would be needed to show that K9 dogs often go against their training and ignore commands from their handlers.

I would think it is more likely that the use of dogs is less dangerous, compared to other methods. Dogs inspire a lot of fear relative to their actual ability to harm. A dog attack is exceedingly unlikely to be fatal. If police have dogs, it may reduce the likelihood of a confrontation involving guns or other weapons.

46 chuck martel March 3, 2017 at 7:01 am
47 dan1111 March 3, 2017 at 7:04 am

In that case, police misconduct is also alleged, with an officer supposedly kicking the man. It’s not clearly a case of a dog disobeying its handler.

48 Alan March 3, 2017 at 7:11 am

If dogs are such a small danger, why do the cops off the dogs so routinely?

49 TMC March 3, 2017 at 9:33 am

Because they are not in control of a handler. You people are redefining the boundaries of willfully stupid.

50 y81 March 3, 2017 at 10:14 am

You obviously don’t know horses very well. A horse will not deliberately step on or knock over a human being. They inspire fear (because of their size) all out of proportion to their ferocity (which is zero, they being fearful herbivores).

51 Blue Toque March 3, 2017 at 7:40 pm

Evidently you’ve never been kicked by a horse. It’s not generally an accident.

52 y81 March 3, 2017 at 10:05 pm

You can’t bring horses under saddle to a crowd and get them to kick demonstrators on command. That’s not how mounted crowd control works. It’s basically a bluff: people are scared of the horses because they are so big, not because they are dangerous.

53 Blue Toque March 3, 2017 at 11:49 pm

Spanish fighting bulls are herbivores, too. So are male bison and cape buffalo. Very friendly to humans when they’re not eating grass. Horses aren’t commanded to kick people, they do it because they want to. Horses are also prone to panic and when they panic they run away, sometimes over people. The history of transportation before the automobile is one of runaways, stampedes, injuries and deaths in horse-drawn transport.

54 y81 March 4, 2017 at 10:49 pm

Horses run away pulling a carriage, not charging a crowd of people and trampling them. It’s the occupants of the carriage who get injured. The whole topic is well-covered in John Keegn’s “The Face of Battle” (the discussion of Waterloo tactics).

55 Axa March 3, 2017 at 5:43 am

Chip, it’s not your personal opinion of riots but what legislators define as “riots”:

“participating with five or more other persons [while engaging] in tumultuous and violent conduct and thereby intentionally or recklessly creating a grave risk of causing public alarm.”
http://koin.com/2017/02/15/bill-colleges-must-expel-students-convicted-of-rioting/

5 people having an argument with police can be charged with “rioting”. Vague definitions like this one are good for discretionary use: sport riots are fine but this law is applied only to political opposition.

56 Ricardo March 3, 2017 at 7:47 am

The things you highlight are already illegal. Laws against rioting and disorderly conduct date back to colonial times in some places.

57 Thomas March 3, 2017 at 10:18 am

If leftists or anyone else block a roadway, they are holding drivers against their will. Drivers who are experiencing emergencies have the right to pass slowly through the protest, and with speed if there is imminent harm to themselves or others. I look forward to fearful citizens being emboldened to use self defense against the violent protestors that make up Barack Obama’s shadow government resistance.

58 Troll me March 3, 2017 at 5:01 pm

To be fair, those limitations are not always used the way they were intended to be used.

59 prior_test2 March 3, 2017 at 12:50 am

‘Could we not have kept public demonstrations and protests more alive as a vital and nonbureaucratized tradition?’

You are familiar with DC – could we not have kept Pennsylvania Ave open to through traffic?

Strange how the framing changes – though in both cases, the decision making process seems based on fear.

60 Tom T. March 3, 2017 at 7:57 am

Yes, imagine what D.C. would look like without bureaucratization of protest. The Resistance would be lying down in the middle of every street every day. Basically, protest became regulated like an institution once it became an institution.

61 prior_test2 March 3, 2017 at 8:47 am

‘Yes, imagine what D.C. would look like without bureaucratization of protest.’

You mean it would be like it has since its creation? And let us be brutally honest – if one million people decided to march on DC without permission, about the only solution to that is Patton’s – ‘At 4:45 p.m., commanded by General Douglas MacArthur, the 12th Infantry Regiment, Fort Howard, Maryland, and the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, supported by six M1917 light tanks commanded by Maj. George S. Patton, formed in Pennsylvania Avenue while thousands of civil service employees left work to line the street and watch. The Bonus Marchers, believing the troops were marching in their honor, cheered the troops until Patton ordered the cavalry to charge them, which prompted the spectators to yell, “Shame! Shame!”

After the cavalry charged, the infantry, with fixed bayonets and tear gas (adamsite, an arsenical vomiting agent) entered the camps, evicting veterans, families, and camp followers. The veterans fled across the Anacostia River to their largest camp, and Hoover ordered the assault stopped. MacArthur chose to ignore the president and ordered a new attack, claiming that the Bonus March was an attempt to overthrow the US government; 55 veterans were injured and 135 arrested. A veteran’s wife miscarried. When 12-week-old Bernard Myers died in the hospital after being caught in the tear gas attack, a government investigation reported he died of enteritis, and a hospital spokesman said the tear gas “didn’t do it any good.”

During the military operation, Major Dwight D. Eisenhower, later the 34th president of the United States, served as one of MacArthur’s junior aides. Believing it wrong for the Army’s highest-ranking officer to lead an action against fellow American war veterans, he strongly advised MacArthur against taking any public role: “I told that dumb son-of-a-bitch not to go down there,” he said later. “I told him it was no place for the Chief of Staff.”[18] Despite his misgivings, Eisenhower later wrote the Army’s official incident report that endorsed MacArthur’s conduct.’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonus_Army#Army_intervention

62 American March 3, 2017 at 11:01 am

“You mean it would be like it has since its creation?”

Wow, I can’t believe that happened a grand total of one time. Great research, prior.

63 prior_test2 March 3, 2017 at 12:54 pm

It wasn’t about the research, it was about one of two possible reactions (the other is just ignoring it) if a million people show up at once, without asking for a permit from the government first, and giving an example that was specific to DC.

These days, Americans seem to have forgotten how that works. To put it a bit more concretely, all those demonstrating East Germans in 1989 didn’t ask for permission from their government first, either.

64 Hazel Meade March 3, 2017 at 10:16 am

Exactly. More succinctly put than my comment below. Thanks.

65 Troll me March 3, 2017 at 5:04 pm

Well if there were not a generic penalty for “criminal record” which treats an axe murderer the same as a joint smoker, then people could just go lay down, take the minor beatings enroute to a few days in prison, and be free again in short order.

66 Turkey Vulture March 3, 2017 at 1:11 am

If you’re going to fault “America’s NIMBY mentality,” it is probably fair to ask what rules apply for people who want to protest in your neighborhood, and whether there is any possibility of people protesting in your neighborhood even without those rules. Easy to fault others for protecting their backyards when you know your backyard isn’t in danger.

67 prior_test2 March 3, 2017 at 1:37 am

How quickly one forgets these words, which at least in theory apply to the entire United States, not just Mantua – ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances..’

Of course, like Scalia, one can hope that Gorsuch will make that a real priority, while ignoring any originalist pretensions – ‘As a jurist, Justice Scalia was a staunch protector of free speech — even though, interestingly enough, the First Amendment doesn’t lend itself easily to originalism, his favored mode of analysis. These themes emerged during two panels at the Federalist Society’s recent 2016 National Lawyers Convention, centered on celebrating Justice Scalia’s life and legacy. The first panel focused on free speech, election law, and originalism, and the second panel covered Justice Scalia’s influence on different areas of law, including free speech law.

Free speech is an important topic to tackle given how it’s under attack today. Professor Nadine Strossen of New York Law School, president of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) from 1991 to 2008, noted that advocating free speech has been described as “conservative,” in quarters where that’s not a compliment, and has even been investigated as “hate speech” on some university campuses.

Strossen’s political views are well to the left of most Federalist Society members, but on free speech, they’re with her. “Normally speaking at the Federalist Society is going into the lion’s den for me,” she said, “but on this issue, I’m preaching to the choir.”’ http://abovethelaw.com/2016/11/justice-scalia-originalism-free-speech-and-the-first-amendment/

68 dan1111 March 3, 2017 at 4:45 am

Interesting article.

69 The Other Jim March 3, 2017 at 6:42 am

>America’s NIMBY mentality

I love that Tyler thinks the only difference between shutting down a highway for FIVE DAYS in 1965 vs 2017 is “America’s NIMBY mentality.” I don’t think he gets off the campus a whole lot.

Either that, or you simply cannot get published in Bloomberg without at least one gratuitous swipe at Americans at large.

70 Troll me March 3, 2017 at 5:15 pm

I think the swipe at Americans at large is in the opposite direction.

In exchange for the right to protest about what is important to you, stattistically speaking maybe once or twice in your life, ever, you might have to take an alternative route to get to your destination. And maybe listen to some shouting, etc.

If you live downtown in a political centre, say, near to the town hall or subnational legislature, perhaps somewhat more often.

This is penny rich dollar poor thinking. Eliminate a few inconveniences per life, at severe costs to your ability to act when the “inconvenience” eats up your entire life (e.g., massive civil rights violations).

71 Joey_33 March 3, 2017 at 1:42 am

This is a joke, right? Protest was bureaucratized because a political coalition formed which opposed those protests, in form and substance. “Judges in the 1970’s” means judges nominated by a GOP which sought to take over the judiciary for this purpose.

72 Frank D March 3, 2017 at 2:08 am

When I saw the title, I thought it referred to the fact that the act of protest has become, perhaps always was, a highly scripted organized form of theater.

73 prior_test2 March 3, 2017 at 2:19 am

‘perhaps always was, a highly scripted organized form of theater’

You know, there are people who just might disagree with that. But definitely not anyone currently in power anywhere in the world.

74 Sk March 3, 2017 at 2:21 am

Amazing point. Small steps towards the hunger games! Buying your book now…

75 Islander March 3, 2017 at 2:43 am

I agree completely, 100% with Tyler. It’s our country, and if some fraction of the population wants to protest, it’s their right. We want the same right for ourselves. There’s a reason free speech won Gold and guns Silver.

On a related note, many of my favorite reads like MR are now flooded with conspiracy-toting, insulting, certified fact-free commentary. It drowns out everything rational; even pure liberal websites are thus afflicted. The reverse isn’t true for conservative strongholds like ZH or BBN. Is it just me or was the comment section of this blog on a higher level just a few years ago?

76 Rags March 3, 2017 at 10:19 am

It is worse than that. It shapes our government. Trump was the post-rational discourse candidate, now President. He is President exactly because “conspiracy-toting, insulting, certified fact-free commentary” prevails from here to Fox News.

One of the comedies at MR is that Tyler will link to a new study and regular commenters will line up to say they don’t believe the study for this, that, or the other reason. They write much more text than Tyler did. At that point what is MR? A place to learn new things, or a place to deny new things?

A place to (re)elect Trump.

77 Turkey Vulture March 3, 2017 at 11:23 am

“One of the comedies at MR is that Tyler will link to a new study and regular commenters will line up to say they don’t believe the study for this, that, or the other reason.”

Have you ever been to a presentation or seminar where an academic paper was presented? This is exactly what academics do, and what they are supposed to do, as part of the advancement of knowledge. Anyone who just accepted every paper as fact would be full of false knowledge and contradictions.

78 Rags March 3, 2017 at 11:40 am

If fact X is answered with fact Y, perhaps. Or better logic.

But not if fact X is just answered with “conspiracy-toting, insulting, certified fact-free commentary,” as is now too often the case.

79 Thomas March 3, 2017 at 10:21 am

This loser Islander would certainly support a protest of people, two deep, arms locked, surrounding his block and therefore preventing him from leaving his house, until he died. That’s the “free speech” this utter moron is defending: physically blocking and trapping people.

80 Islander March 3, 2017 at 4:10 pm

That’s exactly what I’m promoting, you have me sir! All our precious deep state nefarious plots are ruined now, thank you very much.

At least we still have plan B, putting ‘Trump’ stickers on stop signs. Of course we are secretly only hoping for a wave of accidents as innocents get confused by the maliciously vandalized signage.

81 Thomas March 3, 2017 at 7:26 pm

If you were capable you would defend protests that physically block people from traveling.

82 Rags March 3, 2017 at 10:42 am

I am not sure if Islander and Thomas are the same person, but Islander sets up “conspiracy-toting, insulting, certified fact-free commentary” and Thomas delivers. Wow.

But again, my point is that it isn’t just here. “Conspiracy-toting, insulting, certified fact-free commentary” is a good description for many Trump speeches. It is a good description for his campaign launch on the backs of “Mexican rapists.”

The Trump effect is not separate from this. It extends from here to there.

83 Thomas March 3, 2017 at 2:31 pm

There are hundreds of viseoa of recent protesters and their methods. They link arms, blocking pedestrian traffic and trapping drivers in cars. The pedestrians can turn around and not attend the blockaded event, the cars cannot. Please, if you are capable, demonstrate how those description of the current protests is, a. Dependent on conspiracy, b. Fact free, or c. Insulting (the protesters are rather proud). You can’t, of course, because the videos prove what I am saying is true.

84 Troll me March 3, 2017 at 5:18 pm

If you can remember what things were like online 10 years ago, it is extremely clear that more than social change is afoot.

Some luddites took a while to get online and now share their luddite ideas. Fine.

But an ochestrated campaign to significantly influence political dialogue in a foreign nation, for example to castrate usage of rights which would enable them to speak freely about threats to national security, etc., could be implemented by just some dozens or hundreds of actors.

As for those luddites? Ripe for the picking. Too often, it is not clear how much distinction there is between the two now. (And other dodgy internal stuff, but I dunno …)

85 Rags March 3, 2017 at 6:09 pm

Columbia Journalism Review has some interesting numbers and charts on media polarization and social propagation.

http://www.cjr.org/analysis/breitbart-media-trump-harvard-study.php

Basically there is a hole in the market, no popular center-right voice. Maybe if the WSJ gave more free content.

86 Nathanael March 3, 2017 at 4:01 am

Don’t forget: union activity was highest when unions were actually illegal and banned.

The Bonus Army was not given a permit and was gunned down with tanks. This only made their movement *more* popular.

Criminalizing protest isn’t just wrong. It’s also a *strategic mistake* — it’s a guaranteed backfire, guaranteed to create more support for the protestors. Gandhi knew this and leveraged British overreaction into the independence of India.

87 dan1111 March 3, 2017 at 4:53 am

This is true at some level, but it depends on the popularity of the protestors’ cause and the extent to which they are suppressed.

There needs to be a balance–a reasonable allowance for protest while also limiting the amount of disruption caused. I don’t think it’s necessary to let protestors shut down Interstate highways. On the other hand, confining all protestors to a fenced in area seems too extreme.

88 Troll me March 3, 2017 at 5:22 pm

An interstate highway is the wrong place for a protest. Unless it’s the right place for a protest.

89 Art Deco March 3, 2017 at 10:30 pm

An “Interstate” is a high speed limited-access highway. The only pedestrians it ever has on it are people with broken down vehicles. It’s never the right place for any kind of foot traffick.

90 Axa March 3, 2017 at 5:48 am

Finding a place to protest is a practical and difficult challenge. The only true public spaces (urban setting) are streets, roads and highways. So, it’s not a surprise protestors use these spaces.

91 Thomas March 3, 2017 at 10:25 am

This isn’t just an unfortunate accidenct. Protestors are intentionally blocking all passing on thoroughfares, in the case of drivers, physically trapping them. For hours, for days? For as long as they can until police move them.

Let the tea party lock arms nd prevent egress from the Obama palace and watch the horror of violent protestors who pretend to support the first amendment.

92 Art Deco March 3, 2017 at 11:09 am

Don’t forget: union activity was highest when unions were actually illegal and banned.

I’ll forget it, because it’s almost certainly untrue.

And there’s a reason for restrictions on aspirant collective bargaining agents: they’re ineffective if they cannot, through physical rough justice, prevent people from applying for jobs at the company against which they’re striking. You can concede to them effective control over the dimensions of the hiring pool, stand back and let them take it through force, or crack their heads. There is no fourth option.

93 Troll me March 3, 2017 at 5:34 pm

The fourth option is to treat them decent in the first place, giving workers no reason to organize against the highly organized capital holders.

Companies get the unions they deserve.

94 Art Deco March 3, 2017 at 10:29 pm

Companies get the unions they deserve.

What did anyone do to ‘deserve’ the likes of Jackie Presser and Joseph Ryan?

95 carlospln March 3, 2017 at 11:57 pm

There’s no such thing as ‘strong unions’, Arthur

Only weak management.

96 Troll me March 6, 2017 at 9:52 am

Well, its an expression. Instructive, but does not always apply.

97 ChrisA March 3, 2017 at 4:47 am

Isn’t freely protesting where ever you want anti democratic? Its a bit like introducing secret ballots for strikes. Sure it inconveniences some people but without it you end up with a small set of radicals imposing their views on the majority.

98 Borjigid March 3, 2017 at 7:44 am

This is why we have reasonable limits on the time, manner, and place of protests, without regard to content. Naturally, a lot hinges on how you define “reasonable”.

99 Tom T. March 3, 2017 at 8:08 am

Protest is inherently an announcement that one lacks conventional political power. It is most effective when it highlights a barrier to political participation than is restricting the protesters’ access to the democratic process. Union protests over free association and civil rights protests over voting are good examples.

It is less effective when the basis for protest is simply that the protesters’ views have lost out, and they don’t like being on the losing side. Anti-war protests have generally fallen into this category, Occupy, and now probably the Resistance. Like you say, other people lose patience with the anti-democratic nature of the message and tactics.

100 The Other Jim March 3, 2017 at 6:36 am

Tyler – I’m serious here – you should be very proud of that excellent deflection in your second quoted paragraph. I honestly don’t think the NYT could have done it any better.

The Democrats put protesters behind razor wire a half-mile from what they were protesting, and you manage to attribute this to “federal court assertions” and “local governments.” You even avoid active voice entirely – these people just “ended up being confined.” It’s a masterpiece. Bravo!

101 Axa March 3, 2017 at 8:24 am

Yeah, the “Democrats”…….or read the definition of National Special Security Event https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Special_Security_Event

102 Decimal March 3, 2017 at 9:29 am

Don’t even try. The delusions are great with this one.

103 JWatts March 3, 2017 at 10:28 am

“Yeah, the “Democrats”…….or read the definition of National Special Security Event ”

” For instance, during the 2004 Democratic National Convention, numerous would-be demonstrators ended up being confined to a “demonstration zone,””

Surely the Democratic party could have given the protestors a venue. So, yes, it was the DNC that ultimately insured the protestors were limited to a “demonstration zone”. It’s completely ludicrous to point the finger anywhere else.

104 Art Deco March 3, 2017 at 7:58 am

You’ll notice that the moderators will not address the question of rabble disrupting the meetings and speaking engagements of others, as it occurs primarily at ‘academic’ institutions.

105 Ricardo March 3, 2017 at 8:18 am

What evidence is there that existing laws against trespass, disorderly conduct and the like are insufficient to address this?

106 Art Deco March 3, 2017 at 9:31 am

What evidence is there that your remarks are anything but a deflection?

107 albatross March 3, 2017 at 9:40 am

Those laws are sufficient, but they need to be applied. You may protest outside the hall where the speech is going on, but if you go into the hall and disrupt the speech, you ought to be leaving the hall in handcuffs, and heading to the police station to get a charge of disturbing the peace. Apply the laws in public a few times, and like magic, there will be a lot fewer people volunteering to shut down a speech (and then spend the night in jail, get sentenced to community service, and spend their next few Saturdays picking up trash by the side of the road).

This strategy works because it has substantial covert institutional support within the universities where it is employed. My guess is that if conservative students began to use this technique to shut down speech that offended their beliefs, college administrations would pretty quickly discover that they had the power to use disturbing the peace laws, trespassing laws, and suspensions for bad behavior on campus as tools to prevent it. I hope so, since otherwise, that would amount to shutting down *all* controversial speech on campus. There’s no shortage of movements that can get ten guys to show up at an auditorium and scream slogans to shut down a speaker, if they know there will be zero cost to them for doing it.

108 Thomas March 3, 2017 at 10:28 am

Exactly. Ricardo is a dishonest fool.

109 JWatts March 3, 2017 at 10:30 am

“Those laws are sufficient, but they need to be applied.”

It goes beyond that. The laws should be consistently applied.

110 JWatts March 3, 2017 at 10:32 am

“This strategy works because it has substantial covert institutional support within the universities where it is employed. My guess is that if conservative students began to use this technique to shut down speech that offended their beliefs, college administrations would pretty quickly discover that they had the power to use disturbing the peace laws, trespassing laws, and suspensions for bad behavior on campus as tools to prevent it. ”

Actually, you made my point. It’s pretty clear that there is some ideological support for the protestors, at least at Berkeley.

111 y81 March 3, 2017 at 6:07 pm

JWatts: Actually, it isn’t hard to find real life cases of administrators moving promptly and effectively to shut down free expression of which they don’t approve. At Yale, for instance, although the administration can’t do much when leftist students spit on free speech supporters, they moved swiftly to discipline the fraternity whose members marched through campus chanting, “No means yes! Yes means anal!”

Tyler, of course, isn’t sure what he thinks of protesters spitting on free speech supporters, but I am confident that a man who disapproves of transgender-insensitive footnotes applauds the sanctions imposed on the aforesaid fraternity.

112 Art Deco March 3, 2017 at 10:48 am

What, are you telling me college faculties and administrations are shot through with intellectual and moral frauds? Say it ain’t so…

113 Troll me March 3, 2017 at 5:41 pm

Are they suggesting to drag people off to prison for minor issues, or just yelling at people in an inappropriate way?

Methinks the one is a weeee bit more biased than the other.

114 Art Deco March 3, 2017 at 10:26 pm

Nathan, what the shnooks bleating about ‘mass incarceration’ aren’t telling you is that about 40% of those convicted are remanded to state or federal prisons; 60% are getting no time or jail time commonly measured in days or weeks. . BTW, in New York, about 38% of initial charges are felonies (later plea bargained). The notion you have scads of people carted off to prison for ‘minor crimes’ is in your head and nowhere else.

115 Troll me March 4, 2017 at 4:02 am

To the best of my knowledge, when referring to people who are in prison, this is not inclusive of people who are not in prison.

Weekends with the kids and stuff, I gather they are still counted as part of the prisoner population.

116 Turkey Vulture March 3, 2017 at 9:24 am

We should have a more liberalized protesting regime. It is a Constitutionally-protected right, and I live in a rural area where even an extremely liberal policy towards protest has a near zero chance of personally inconveniencing me.

But the status of “protest” should be lowered. Much of protest can be seen as an attempt by “special interests” — a concentrated minority — to contravene the preferences of a dispersed majority. We think this is troublesome in other realms so it should be here as well. Moreover, it attempts to have its impact by manipulating our emotions and cognitive biases rather than by appealing to reason. 100,000 people, or even 10,000 people, gathered in a group seems like a lot of people to our eyes. But we have a nation of over 320 million. We do not see what slice of the total population is represented in a protest; our reasoning may proceed as if it is the entire jurisdiction turned out to protest. The significance of a large group of people protesting in the town square in 1789 is much different from the same sized group protesting downtown in 2017.

It is also less useful as political rights are extended. When there is no voting, or only a small part of the population votes, public protest may be the only outlet for a large portion of the population to be heard. It can then act as a useful check on the excesses of an undemocratic government. Even under a more democratic system, if any group is denied political rights, it may remain their most effective form of political expression. But under universal adult suffrage, protest shifts from a method of allowing the otherwise-unheard to be heard, to a method of allowing a particularly impassioned minority to be heard artificially loudly.

Even with my above points, there IS value in having people not only indicate their preferences, but the strength of their preferences. If only a small portion of the population cares about a particular issue, but they feel really really really strongly about it, a fairly uninterested majority should take their passion into account. I am not saying it has zero value. Only that it should be given less value than we appear to give it now.

117 albatross March 3, 2017 at 9:50 am

The problem is that:

a Everyone has the right to speak their mind, including in big groups. If you’re angry about something, you have the right to have a protest about it.

b. Nobody else is obligated to listen to you, and you have no right at all to force them to. Similarly, you have no right to shut down the normal functioning of society to get attention for your cause.

For example, (a) says protesters absolutely *can* stand in front of abortion clinics and chant slogans, wave signs, etc. And (b) says protesters absolutely *cannot* block entrance to or exit from those clinics, or threaten people going in/coming out.

The problem is, powerful people who are opposed to the cause of the protesters have a big incentive to take the rules and laws established for (b) and use them to silence people trying to do (a). People trying to control the stories that appear on the news will do their best to make sure that the protests that make them look bad are corralled into some “freedom cage” five miles from the party convention, inaccessible to journalists.

118 Turkey Vulture March 3, 2017 at 10:00 am

There are certainly competing fundamental interests at stake (as there are in so many other realms), which makes a “right answer” very difficult to come by. I would say there is no single correct answer, and the proper system creates mechanisms for both sides to push back and forth — sometimes too much of (b) is violated, sometimes too much of (a) is violated.

I only mean to argue that, even if there were a perfect answer to balancing (a) and (b), and we implemented it, in that world “protest” should not be considered as valuable or important as (I think) we currently consider.

119 Thomas March 3, 2017 at 10:32 am

What a terrific example. Would the hypocritical liberals posting in defence of shutting down streets (Islander and Ricardo) similarly defend blocking the entrance to abortion clinics? Of course not, Ricardo and Islander, just like their masked protester/assailant friends, are scumbags.

120 Troll me March 3, 2017 at 5:42 pm

What’s more important as a relevant indicator of opinion?

100,000 people who take to the streets?

Or 100 million who, on a survey, would indicate “Disagree” beside “but don’t really care”.

121 Turkey Vulture March 3, 2017 at 8:41 pm

I say in my final paragraph that intensity could be important, which is why I don’t say protest has zero value. But there is no reason to just assume that the dispersed 100 million don’t care. Or wouldn’t care if they knew what was going on. So your hypothetical is highly artificial and probably not representative of many, if any, issues.

A political system that defers to the loud minority that takes to the streets on issues with broad impact sounds terrible.

122 Troll me March 4, 2017 at 4:13 am

I agree that deference would be a good path.

The only time I’ve seen protest really get something done, like fo SURE it was the protests, was when 15 million people a day were hitting the streets to protest to end the military government, etc.

But it only took the Islamists about a year to start majorly backing away from commitments to moderation in religious matters. And so it’s back to a military regime again, harsher now than before.

Anyways, more generally, I think it’s just one of many inputs. But an important one to allow.

123 Troll me March 4, 2017 at 4:13 am

deference NOT a good path.

124 Jake March 3, 2017 at 9:58 am

It is a Constitutionally-protected right,

The right to protest? Not familiar with that one. The first amendment says

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

I have a right to practice my religion but holding a prayer group on I-95 is prohibited. A 100 person Bible study in my home would be shut down by the fire department. I deal with reasonable restrictions on my freedom of religion, why can’t you handle reasonable restrictions on the right to peaceably to assemble?

125 albatross March 3, 2017 at 11:07 am

To my mind, the tricky bit there is making sure that the reasonable restrictions (don’t block I-95, don’t violate the fire code) don’t turn into a mechanism for shutting down either really unpopular speech/religions, or speech that’s especially annoying to the powerful.

126 prior_test2 March 3, 2017 at 1:12 pm

So, this part was too hard for you to grasp in terms of protesting? -‘the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances’

I grew up in Northern Virginia, and lots of people have come to DC to protest, ie, peaceably assembling and petitioning government for a redress of grievances. It is sort of the point of that part of the text, after all – just ask a Tea Partier. ‘Thousands of conservative protesters from across the country converged on the Capitol Saturday morning to demonstrate against President Obama’s proposals for health care reform and voicing opposition to big government, what they say is over-the-top spending.

Carrying signs depicting President Obama as Adolf Hitler and the Joker, and chanting slogans such as “‘No big government” and “Obamacare makes me sick,” approximately 60,000 to 70,000 people flooded Pennsylvania Ave, according to the Washington DC Fire Department.

Organized by FreedomWorks, a conservative activist group led by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, many of the protestors were affiliated with the Tea Party movement, grassroots demonstrations that began across the country last spring to protest Democratic tax policies, and government bailouts of the banking and auto industries.’ http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/tea-party-protesters-march-washington/story?id=8557120

127 BMS March 3, 2017 at 10:02 am

Perhaps a minor point, but no interstate highway (at least in the usual sense of a controlled access highway that is part of the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways) runs close to Selma. The Selma-to-Montgomery March generally followed U.S. 80, and the “Bloody Sunday” bridge is now part of a spur route to U.S. 80.

128 Hazel Meade March 3, 2017 at 10:15 am

Maybe that could have happened if protest hadn’t become an industry and subculture in itself.
Once the only protests were grassroots movements against acute injustices.
Now it’s protest of the week full of professional activists who hop from one part of the country to another chasing the latest “cool” thing. Protests these days have after-parties . Members of the protest subculture can’t wait to find an excuse to protest something so they can go to the party and get laid by the hot hippie girls/guys. The DAPL protest was a giant excuse for hippies to have a big camp-out together on an Indian reservation. I’m completely serious. I know these people. Their idea of a vacation is to pack up the RV and drive to North Dakota and go to a protest, sweat lodge rituals included, no charge.

129 American March 3, 2017 at 11:09 am

And you think the 60s protests were any different?

130 Art Deco March 3, 2017 at 11:38 am

There was a brief lampoon of protests as such in this Ann-Margret vehicle

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0061052/

Note the date.

131 Hazel Meade March 3, 2017 at 12:04 pm

I get the sense that the civil rights marches were different.
I’m not sure about the Vietnam anti-war movement. I fully suspect that SDS was *exactly* like what I’m talking about.
The end of the civil rights movement seems to be about the beginning of when protest became a full-time hobby for some people.

132 Art Deco March 3, 2017 at 11:39 am

Some protests are sorosphere rent-a-crowd.

133 Troll me March 3, 2017 at 5:47 pm

Do you think that people who organize protests have access to more resources than those who eschew protests in favour of direct access to politicians (and whatever it takes to get that?).

Implicit, is that there is a problem with paying people to organize something political.

Keep in mind, that the political actions that you refer to are ones which are extremely transparent and open for everyone to see, whereas the many many billions spent generally on the other side of issues compared to those who protest, are spent in ways that are essentially unseen.

As calculated propagandeering or political manipulation, the perspective you raise entirely makes sense. But I think you’ve drunk perhaps a few sips of that koolaid.

134 Turkey Vulture March 3, 2017 at 8:45 pm

Protest is the production of propaganda and political manipulation. It is not a rational argument. It is an emotional appeal, meant to sway opinion and policy.

135 Troll me March 4, 2017 at 4:16 am

There’s nothing irrational about communicating that there are X thousands or millions willing to take to the streets on an issue.

136 Albigensian March 3, 2017 at 10:18 am

There is ample legal precedent supporting government’s has the right to limit the time, place, and manner of speech- so long as it discriminate based on its content.

And it’s a good thing, too, for if it did not I’d have the right to park a sound truck under your bedroom window and just blare away at you all night long, night after night.

To assert that government has this right is not to say it should use it, of course- but what’s constitutionally permitted remains up to the democratic process. What’s NOT up to the democratic process is whether government can deny Murray the right to speak under circumstances where others would be, or are, able to speak.

137 Ed March 3, 2017 at 10:19 am

My bigger worry is with the institutionalization of protest, rather than the bureaucratization. Protest worked once, and it was stimulating and provided a huge boost to the self-regard of its participants. So now we have to have more protests on a regular basis, finding issues with less marginal utility or moral force, so as to continue to provide participants with that sweet, sweet high. Institutions need managers, and committees, and organizers, and legal counsel, but never quality control engineers. They always overlook the quality control engineers.

138 Hazel Meade March 3, 2017 at 10:26 am

+1.

And to compensate for the lowered marginal utility you amp up the outrage factor. It’s like the high-fructose corn-syrup of protest movement. Use it as a filler to substitute for the more expensive and hard to come by moral force.

139 lemmy caution March 3, 2017 at 11:30 am

If you knew what protests were going to be effective beforehand, it would all be a lot easier

“It is difficult not to laugh, and we imagine that will be the mood of most thinking Indians.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salt_March

140 Rags March 3, 2017 at 11:07 am

I approve of Tyler’s message, but I think it is a mistake to group wild protests that are later corralled with the planned and permitted sort.

We just had amazing flash protests at airports. The fact that no one was arrested just for demonstrating(*) says that demonstration, even inconvenient demonstration, is still an established norm.

* – a very small number were arrested for taking it too far, which is fine

141 Thomas March 3, 2017 at 2:35 pm

Did your protest include using force to stop foot traffic?

142 Jason Bayz March 3, 2017 at 11:40 am

“Take the famed Selma civil-rights marchers of 1965, when the protesters had obtained the legal right, through petition, to conduct a 52-mile, five-day march down an interstate highway. Of course, that blocked the highway and inconvenienced many motorists and truckers. America’s NIMBY mentality would most likely prevent a comparable event today.”

Yes, the protesters wouldn’t have permission to do so, but they don’t let that stop them. Googling “Black lives matter blocks highway” gives 1,450,000 results, but it makes sense that Tyler doesn’t mention it, as he wouldn’t be able to bring himself to either defend it or condemn it.

He does mention the Baltimore and Baltimore riots but maintains that it was solely the fault of police that these turned violent, they wouldn’t have, according to Tyler, had the police had better “training,” thank God they had the proper training at those Tea-Party protests.

143 Rags March 3, 2017 at 11:58 am

It is probably a mistake to think a police commander planned what he got. He plans for scenarios, and sometimes those work out. Other times the unexpected happens, either with protectors or security.

In the most famous protest disaster of all time, Kent State, no one set out to shoot students. It went wrong when some idiot decided to fix bayonets and advance on an unarmed crowd.

There errors we see today are very much shaped by that. They are errors on the side of caution, because no one wants to be Sergeant Myron Pryor.

144 Art Deco March 3, 2017 at 12:52 pm

He does mention the Baltimore and Baltimore riots but maintains that it was solely the fault of police that these turned violent, they wouldn’t have, according to Tyler, had the police had better “training,”

Does anyone think anyone at Mercatus or the GMU economics department knows the first thing about police work?

145 y81 March 3, 2017 at 6:13 pm

Well, the people at Mercatus and GMU think they do. So right there is someone.

146 Troll me March 3, 2017 at 5:50 pm

He also faied to mention that some people don’t face just blocked highways for a minute or day, but blocked entire lives.

Ever hear the stories about people ending up in debtors prison for failing to pay a $100 fine, after having paid thousands but never quite catching up with the penalties?

Personally, I think that’s a little more relevant than whether, one time, you had to take an alternate route that cost you an hour.

147 Art Deco March 3, 2017 at 12:50 pm

Take the famed Selma civil-rights marchers of 1965, when the protesters had obtained the legal right, through petition, to conduct a 52-mile, five-day march down an interstate highway. Of course, that blocked the highway and inconvenienced many motorists and truckers. America’s NIMBY mentality would most likely prevent a comparable event today.

They traveled on U.S. Route 80, not on an Interstate or limited-access roadway. You can also travel from Selma to Montgomery and back on state Route 14, which was built in the 1920s. Also, there are ordinary public roads in Alabama you can use as detours or turn-offs.

148 prior_test2 March 3, 2017 at 1:04 pm

I’m now a bit fascinated – are there really all that many protests in the U.S.?

In Germany, and specifically in Karlsruhe, Frankfurt, and Bielefeld, it is not exactly uncommon for people to block roads/streetcar lines for an hour or two – often blowing whistles, chanting, etc.- all with police escort.

The point of a protest is to protest, after all – not to simply accept something silently.

I can hardly wait until Prof. Cowen comes out against striking, which inconveniences the employer no end.

149 Jason Bayz March 3, 2017 at 4:35 pm

“Freedom for aggression.”

150 Troll me March 3, 2017 at 5:52 pm

Peaceful protest is aggression. Beating them into submission and dragging them to jail is “maintaining public order”.

We need more apologists for a police state like you. Things will surely get better.

151 Taeyoung March 3, 2017 at 1:05 pm

“Starting in the 1970s, the federal courts began to assert that public spaces are not automatically fair game for marches and demonstrations, and so local governments have sought to please the users of such facilities rather than marchers and protesters.”

The irony is that local governments generally don’t care about the users of such facilities — overwhelmingly, public spaces in the US have been given over to the lowest common denominator (i.e. vagrants and madmen) rather than the median user, who just wants a nice bit of park where he can take his children and let them play in the grass, or have a bit of lunch. And there are no end of activists ready to protest any effort to reclaim those public spaces for the median citizen, and armchair activists ready to pooh-pooh it as Disney-fication. Or maybe that’s just because I live in the city. It’s a big part of the reason our cities are so often so grey and grim, particularly when I compare against nice cities (like Tokyo, or even Seoul), where the public space is absolutely and without question arranged and maintained and protected for the use of the average citizen.

No, local governments in the US restrict protest because of course local governments want to restrict protest! The fact that the citizenry like it is just a bonus. They’d do it anyway if they could.

152 Art Deco March 3, 2017 at 3:32 pm

No, local governments in the US restrict protest because of course local governments want to restrict protest! T

Rubbish. You see vagrants on downtown streets and in certain city parks, and not necessarily in the latter.

153 Donald Pretari March 3, 2017 at 2:37 pm

It’s funny how issues play out. I would like to see more public protests, but ban decals on automobiles. They really annoy me. Also, Charles Murray isn’t a racist. Finally, you should read up on how the conservatives viewed the actions of the actions of the administration at Berkeley recently rather than making assumptions.

154 Jack March 3, 2017 at 3:37 pm

Very labored and unconvincing argument that protesters have been muzzled. Take Occupy Wall Street. There people occupied a quasi-public park in NYC for several months. During that time the park was unusable by anyone other than them. They erected a shanty town, used the city streets and the local Burger King as a toilet, and several times a day marched around the Federal Reserve building and Chase Manhattan bank banging pots and pans — for what purpose God knows. A real nuisance to people living in the area. Attracted all sorts of miscreants from all across the US — aged hippies playing bongos, the guy and girl with long scraggly hair, lots of bits of metal hammered into their bodies and a sad looking dog with a bandanna around his neck. And their rights were muzzled because after months, responding to pleas from local residents, law enforcement cleared the park? Their rights to what? Erect a shanty town in a public park? Advocate a political position? And just what was their political position?

155 Troll me March 3, 2017 at 5:55 pm

The facts of Occupy Wall Street do not un-fact the other facts.

Apparently you judge people as “miscreants” on the basis of long hair and piercings. Remember kindergarden, when they taught you not to judge a book by its cover?

156 Joël March 3, 2017 at 6:02 pm

“several times a day marched around the Federal Reserve building and Chase Manhattan bank banging pots and pans — for what purpose God knows.” cf. Joshua, 6:1-27

157 Joël March 3, 2017 at 6:00 pm

This is a very good piece, Tyler. I hope those bills won’t become law or will be blocked in courts.

The same restrictions have also been accumulating in France in the last few decades, with a sudden acceleration since two years with the ongoing “emergency state”, ostensibly proclaimed to fight against ISIS, but whose rules are used by the Hollande administration to prevent or make more difficult for many people completely unrelated to ISIS or Islamic terrorism (environmentalists, all kind of leftists, Christian conservatives, the far right, etc.) to march peacefully, occupy a public space, and more generally use their right to free expression.

158 David Porter March 4, 2017 at 11:49 am

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