Paying the Tab for Peaceful Protest

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Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonderandhome.com

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50 Responses

  1. Avatar greginak
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    says:

    Hot take: none of the Cancel Culture is coming for us peeps will see this kind of thing as an attempt to silence public dissent.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    Lighting a car dealership on fire, by comparison, is free.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      Hmmm. You’ve admitted that in your view BLM people aren’t engaging in looting and arson, yet here you are perpetuating the misperception. None of us want nice things anymore.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        If we admit that the mostly peaceful protests happen in response to police shootings, then, like it or not, the mostly peaceful protests are BLM.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          Except by your own lights, that’s not true….Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater
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            says:

            “Suppose the looting and arson is perpetrated by right wingers to serve partisan interests. Still BLM?”

            Jaybird: “Yes, still BLM.”Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater
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              says:

              You’re not allowed into the protest until you show your BLM membership card.
              Everyone knows that.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
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              says:

              I concede that if the violence is done by, for example, Russian spies, then the violence is not BLM but Russian interference.

              That said, there does seem to be a narrative out there that ties the Mostly Peaceful to the Protesting rather than to outside agitators.

              Now, is there a Platonic Black Lives Matter Protestor? Yes, there is.

              Does this Platonic Protestor damage property? No, she does not.

              There has been a lot of smearing of concepts by not only those opposed to the protests but the “well, you have to understand” crowd and I think that the Mostly Peaceful is now married, like it or not, to the Protesting itself.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                There has been a lot of smearing of concepts by not only those opposed to the protests but the “well, you have to understand” crowd …

                Don’t be shy. Include yourself in those groups, too.

                As for the riots being married to the protests, I disagree. I, for example, have no difficulty separating the two. Nor did you in the now long-distant past that was yesterday.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                It feels like a No True Scotsman.

                The Good Protestors don’t vandalize. The Bad Protestors do. The Bad Protestors are not affiliated with Black Lives Matter. The Good Protestors are.

                Sadly, both groups show up to the same protests.

                Along with agents provocateur, of course.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                But notice where we started. Andrew writes a post about a BLM activist receiving a bill from the city for security detail costs, and your response is to *link* the girl receiving a bill from the city to express her constitutionally protected speech with burning up a car dealership. You equated the protestors with the rioters.

                Now you’re doing a “well you gotta understand, I don’t actually think that but other people do” dance.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                I was more making the wry observation that it costs money to be one of The Good Protestors.

                Being one of The Bad Protestors is free.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Ahhh. Of course.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Concepts are smeared, narratives are married, all passively, by unknown and invisible actors.

                Where would one go to witness the smearing of concepts and wedding ceremony of Narrative and Protest?

                Strangely, it is never said. These activities just somehow happen, you know they happen, and if you can’t see the evidence of their happening it is because sensible people don’t bother to ask.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                Correct. Intentionally collapsing the distinction between the protestors with the rioters would seemingly block the person doing so from claiming they had nothing to do with that distinction being collapsed.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                Concepts are smeared, narratives are married, all passively, by unknown and invisible actors.

                Chip, I gave an example of CNN doing it. Like, you can watch the video. See it happen.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                You tell us a narrative exists that says the protests are connected to rioting. Your evidence for this is a CNN screengrab that juxtaposes “Mostly Peaceful” over video of flames.

                Are you reporting that CNN is affirmatively declaring that the riots and protests are the same?
                No, you didn’t actually say that.

                Are you reporting that this has caused the public to discredit the protests?

                No, you didn’t say that either.

                Because you didn’t really make any sort of statement in your own voice.

                Who is writing this narrative?

                You.
                You are creating a story, (that the public now views the riots negatively) while pretending you are merely reporting on its existence.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                Are you reporting that CNN is affirmatively declaring that the riots and protests are the same?

                No. I’m saying that CNN is on record as calling the protests “Mostly Peaceful”. In front of burning buildings. Want to see another time they did this?

                Turn the sound on. It’s vaguely funny.

                Are you reporting that this has caused the public to discredit the protests?

                I’m not arguing that this has caused the public to discredit the protests.

                But if you want video of someone on CNN saying that, here you go.

                You want a narrative? I give you CNN.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Exactly, you aren’t saying anything in your own voice or even making any kind of an argument of your own.

                Except to assure us that some sort of narrative exists, which you can’t define, but it is definitely married to something, but to be clear you aren’t the one saying that.

                But people are saying that. And if we don’t believe you, we should watch tv.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                My argument is that the rioters, looters, and people protesting the shooting of yet another suspect are being conflated.

                Smooshed together.

                Your response was to point out that I was saying that this was happening and using the passive voice and not naming names on who was saying it despite the fact that I posted clips.

                Then I posted more clips.

                I assure you, this smooshing is happening and, if you want evidence, I have provided it.

                If you were just asking for evidence as a stalling tactic, well. There it is anyway.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                My argument is that the rioters, looters, and people protesting the shooting of yet another suspect are being conflated.

                Re-read your first two comments in this subthread. You weren’t making an argument that the distinction has collapsed in those comments. In the fist, you collapsed it. In the second you were arguing that it’s already collapsed. When people point out that it isn’t collapsed, that collapsing it is either lazy or cynical, you retreat to saying “well, you gotta understand, CNN collapsed it too, so…”Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                My first comment in this subthread was making a joke about the incentives for “good” protesting versus “bad” protesting and how the cops are incentivizing the bad.

                Everything after that is some weird denial that the violence has anything to do with the protesting happening.

                Maybe George Soros is funding it!Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Jaybird, remember when you posted that the “riots” over George Floyds death had reached Berlin when in fact they were only peacefully protesting?

                Good times.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                Yeah, and when called on it, I pointed out that I was mistaken and the protests were, in fact, peaceful.

                Rather than merely mostly.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                Part of the reason I’m always so alert to the passive voice is that I see it often used in conjunction with the ventriloquist voice.

                As in “Boy, this development [that I don’t like] is creating the narrative that Blah Blah, and the Average Voter really is turned off by this, so this will turn out like X”.

                Its all passive construction and projection camouflaged as detached analysis.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                Chip, I posted video.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                I am opening myself to a BSDI accusation but I think what we’re witnessing is a problem of competing distortions. The distortions of the administration and its backers are obvious. But there’s a second problem, one that the media has been falling into over and over again with Trump, that being cutting corners on (striving for) objectivity.

                I mean, I agree with the basic goals of police reform but this ‘mostly peaceful protest’ thing is getting farcical. It feeds the post truth world in which Trump and his ilk thrive.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to InMD
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                says:

                What would a correct reporting be?Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                Off the top of my head:

                -Report on what you’re seeing. Where it’s peaceful say so. Where it isn’t, say so.

                -Where there is overlap and lack of clarity on who is doing what say so forthrightly, no need to reiterate a particular narrative.

                -For God’s sake have the perspective to avoid the embarrassing episodes like the one Jay posted above.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                I personally have no problem with the term “mostly peaceful protests” since I know the distinction they’re trying to capture. Other people mock it because it implies that the very same people are only “mostly” peaceful. But in the context of looting and arson, that understanding of the term is pure cynicism, in my view, since anyone with common-sense and the desire to use it realizes that the rioters and looters and the peaceful protestors are different individuals, different groups of people.

                But I also think the term “mostly peaceful protestors” as a general descriptor is lazy in a quintessentially media-ish way in that going way back to George Floyd’s death, the term “mostly peaceful” *did* make sense: the protestors were peaceful until the cops started pepper-spraying and wacking them with batons.

                Right now, the better phrasing would probably be to say “Arsonists burn building in aftermath of Blake’s shooting.”

                I read a report about the demographics of people arrested for violence in Seattle, and the cast majority were young white males. I think that demo is a very pissed off group, whether they’re far right wingers or far left wingers, and that the violence isn’t an expression of protest so much as an attempt to create enough havoc that all the institutions they dislike burn to the ground.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                Protests are like those mumurations of birds you see, where they change shape and configuration constantly; Here they swoop down, then up, then spread out, then bunch together, then scatter to reform.

                Except protests are even more diverse than that.
                The people who march at 6PM are different people than the ones shattering windows at 9PM.

                I’ve witnessed this with my own eyes, that the composition of the crowd changes drastically as time wears on.

                Describing a “protest” as a single event with a single motive and single character is impossible.

                Maybe we would understand it better if there was a chyron saying “White People are Mostly Peaceful” overlaid on video of neo-Nazis stomping some guy.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                There was a great piece by an Italian economist when Trump was president elect here. Unfortunately it’s paywalled but I think it was prescient in both the type of president Trump is and the key to defeating him, based on the Italian experience with Silvio Berlusconi. Obviously our establishment media has completely disregarded the approach but it’s illustrative of this problem. Their discrediting of themselves with unforced errors feeds these reactionary movements with little kernels of truth.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to InMD
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                says:

                Linky no work for me.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to InMD
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                says:

                Thanks. That’s a good article.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to InMD
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                says:

                You do have a point. Part of the problem is the “if it bleeds it leads” issue. The media is drawn to the riots and have ignored completely peaceful protests for months. So everybody just sees the riots ( which are bad to be clear) and doesn’t see anything peaceful. There have been plenty of peaceful protests but they are invisible. It is akin to the claims of conservatives for years that blacks don’t protest or speak out against violence in their own communities. Then someone, well me, points out all the protests and movements that people don’t hear about. That never matters for some reason. If it wasn’t on CNN or Fox it didn’t exist.

                The mostly peaceful etc is silly but there is truth there. Burt talked about Portland a few week ago. 99.9% peaceful. During the day quiet protests downtown. Late at night morons show up, violence starts. What does everybody see and report and believe “Gah Portland is on fire!!!”Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to greginak
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                says:

                Nothing is more important to the media than maintaining a critical mass of credibility. There are voices out there that will always challenge it which is fine. But where they’re demonstrably lazy or sycophantic they’re doing the work of bad actors and other defectors.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to InMD
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                says:

                Agreed. Everybody knows much of the press sucks and blows. That is obviously a problem. Secondary to that people who hate the media gobble up distorted narratives like stoners with chips and will still tell you how bad the chips(media) are threw crumb filled mouths.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to InMD
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                says:

                I think it depends…
                Are they saying “Mostly peaceful protestors”? Because that is almost certainly true from a numbers perspective: most of the PEOPLE there are peaceful.

                “Mostly peaceful protests”? I don’t even know how to begin to measure the peacefulness of a protest.

                Related: Is setting fire to a building “violence”? Or does violence assume human targets/victims?Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Here is a quote from Yoom Nguyen, owner of the Lotus Restaurant in Minneapolis, who just witnessed a second assault on his business: “Watching looters bust down our family restaurant is so heartbreaking. Senseless, they’re doing it while laughing and smirking. Not gonna lie, I damn near shot a man tonight. He threw that fucking rock at my family photo and looked right at me. I said ‘you motherfucker …’ tears immediately rolled down my face. I just can’t no more. I’m thankful I walked away but Fuck y’all.” This is how violence metastasizes. And as I’ve watched protests devolve over the summer into a series of riots, arson expeditions, and lawless occupations of city blocks, along with disgusting and often racist profanity, I’ve begun to feel similarly. And when I watched the Democratic Convention and heard close to nothing about ending this lawlessness, I noted the silence.

                I don’t think I’m the only one, as even the Democrats seem now to realize. And this massive blindspot is not hard to understand. When a political party finds itself so wedded to a new and potent ideology it cannot call out violence when it sees it, then it is walking straight into a trap. When the discourse on the left has become one in which scholars and editors and Tweeters vie with one another to up the ante on how inherently evil America has always been, redescribe it as a slaveocracy, and endorse racist books that foment the most egregious stereotypes about “whiteness”, most ordinary people, who love their country and are mostly proud of its past, will rightly balk. One of the most devastating lines in president Trump’s convention speech last night was this: “Tonight, I ask you a very simple question: How can the Democrat Party ask to lead our country when it spends so much time tearing down our country?” A cheap shot, yes. But in the current context, a political bullseye.

                -Andrew Sullivan
                https://andrewsullivan.substack.com/p/the-trap-the-democrats-walked-right

                Don’t worry, there is plenty of TDS in the post, but he does nail the current situation.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Aaron David
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                says:

                Jaybird, here is an example of the passive ventriloquist voice, similar to the Pundit Fallacy.

                Sullivan uses a ventriloquist dummy to mouth his personal description of the liberals, then writes passively of how “Democrats are realizing” and how by golly this is going to lead to a Trump victory.

                Sullivan isn’t actually saying in his own voice “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have refused to criticize violent rioting and therefore I am voting for Trump”;

                Instead he “noticed the silence”;
                And Sullivan himself isn’t realizing that Democrats hate America;
                Instead “Democrats are realizing”;

                And so therefore, Sullivan predicts that “most ordinary people who love America will balk”.

                Sullivan is just a passive observer, a fly on the wall who perfectly records the thoughts and feelings of Democrats and “ordinary Americans” whose feelings strangely mirror his own.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                Do you see the difference between that and saying “Don Lemon is saying that the rioting needs to stop because it’s hurting polling” and then posting Don Lemon saying just that?Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Aaron David
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                says:

                Well, maybe the protester was still pissed off about the way Vietnamese treated downed black fighter pilot Major Fred Cherry, holding him for seven years because he wouldn’t say anything remotely like what BLM chants constantly about white racism and American imperialism.

                Then again, maybe they protesters are a pretty close approximation to the folks in a Mad Max movie, except with a propensity to loot flat screen TV’s and the lack of an actual nuclear apocalypse.Report

  3. Avatar Kazzy
    Ignored
    says:

    I grew up a few towns over from Englewood Cliffs. It is an exceedingly wealthy town in an otherwise wealthy part of the country. I’m sure they could have afforded this without sending a bill.Report

  4. Avatar Aaron David
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    says:

    She shouldn’t have been billed.

    Free speech, yo. It’s baked into the cake.Report

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