Among the most entertaining features of USian protest
movements fads are the videos of protestors explaining The Constitution to cops. Invariably the protestors are flummoxed that state employees holding a veritable monopoly on extreme violence seem either unaware of, or fearlessly unimpressed with The Super Dooper Document’s magical power to keep them in check. The protestors in a recent video making the rounds have actually brought copies to the protest, perhaps to wield defensively if things get rough, the way one uses a crucifix against a vampire.
The cops in these rituals are usually silent, letting the young ‘uns blather to themselves from the cozy confines of the pen they’ve been caged in about the one thing they seem to have learned in school. But the officer in this video offers a novel twist by engaging to explain that the First Amendment protects only a certain kind of speech. The kind that requires a permit.
Oh har har, how stupid!!! But of course he’s right. If he’d said the First Amendment only protects vowels, or “All Lives Matter” or the phrase, “I’m a conformist dipshit with laughably incoherent politics” he’d be right about that too. That’s because, for the duration of the protest at the very least, the First Amendment protects whatever the fuck Officer Lopez and his colleagues say it protects. This should be entirely obvious to anyone with common sense, and certainly to anyone even casually familiar with any part of movement history, but USian protestors prove again and again that they are among the dumbest, most tactically and politically ignorant people on earth.
It’s not really their fault. They’re victims of Free Speech Doctrine, a brainwashing program which they suffer first in school and then later as wielded by admired public figures, which leaves them entirely unable to comprehend how power actually works, as well as deeply confused on what is and is not compatible with principled anti-fascism. This affliction needn’t be permanent, and for those who suffer from it, I wrote this. In honor of Officer Lopez, and those whom he has confused, upset or left overcome by feelings of liberal intellectual superiority, I’ll quote what I wrote about cops in that piece:
…in practical terms, the arbiters of civil liberties are less the courts than the cops. They can issue the permits or not. They can block streets or not. They can pepper spray protestors or not. The Bill of Rights, if it matters at all, frequently applies retroactively. It’s very nice that a lot of the The Occupy protestors who were pepper-sprayed, beaten, sexually molested and jailed won court judgments in their favor, but it didn’t do anything to revive the movement the brutality intended to crush or relieve the chilling effect the protestors experience might have on their political expression in future. The cops will do it all over again when social conditions require it and cities will pay the court costs and legal settlements with public money budgeted for that very purpose.
We see this at work in Ferguson, Missouri when, after a cop murdered Mike Brown, police fought protests with curfews, sound cannons, mass arrests, brutality, and the harassment and incarceration of journalists. It’s great that the ACLU and so many media liberals wring their hands over the First and Fourteenth Amendment violations — and there may be some successful lawsuits, too — but in the absence of any political leverage to radically change conditions on the ground, and the absence of recognizing the need for such leverage, all the outrage is just vanity, fundraising and brand-building. It’s also toxically disinformative to the extent it depicts not-really-unusual police conduct as some horribly new “constitutional crisis” that can be resolved with Member alerts, opinion columns and court briefs.
This explains why cops vigilantly protect Nazi and KKK marches from assaults by counter-protestors, but routinely beat up leftists, in keeping with the state’s historical bias toward fascism and against radicalism generally. We’re headed toward one of those periods when this disparity is particularly profound. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya. Read the rest if you haven’t already.