Hey Hey Ho Ho WTO Arrests Have Gotta Go


A U.S. District Judge decides that 157 arrests of protestors during the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle had no probable cause.

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  1. Now, if they would only make a ruling on the Secret Service rounding up Anti-Bush protesters and moving them to a ‘free speech zone’ miles away from where the Prez is, that would be good news.

    (not saying that this isnt good news)

  2. This isn’t good news. Those people went well beyond protest and into property destruction. This judgment will encourage billions more in damage without helping freedom of speech one bit.

  3. No, a small core of protesters, mostly the idiot anarchists from Eugene, Oregon started smashing things and the cops felt that justified beating down and arresting everyone. Wake up. This specific case involves people who were trapped by the police and then arrested in mass for their failure to disperse, despite the fact that the police weren’t letting them leave. If these people had caused property damage, then the judge wouldn’t have seen their arrest as unjustified, would he? Read the damn article before you comment.

  4. I support the judge’s decision; but, if business owner’s had started shooting the protestors that were trashing their stores, I would support the business owner’s too.

    I mean, it’s wrong for the government to arrest people without probable cause, and it’s wrong for protestors to destroy other people’s property. You know…the whole no-difference-between-civil-rights-and-property-rights-libertarian thing?

    P.S. I’m not a big gun guy, but I’ll never forget the way the business owners in Korea Town organized and defended themselves during the LA riots. It is, perhaps, the best example of citizens properly exercising their Second Ammendment rights since World War II.

  5. Sure. But business owners should hollar “Git!” and fire a warning shot first.

    Also, just wondering why the establishment never rounded up those crazy anarchists Ben Franklin and Sam Adams after that destructive Boston Tea Party incident. Hmmm.

  6. I don’t know why libertarians would be so enamored of raucus demonstrations by leftist trash. A society could probably prohibit this form of expression entirely (evenhandedly, like public displays of religion) and lose little in the way of genuine liberty.

    The Left would lose its street theater. Small loss.

  7. Andrew, you seem to still believe that the people involved in this ruling were destroying private property, I will restate again, they WERE NOT. They were people involved in peacefull protest who were cornered by the police, not allowed to disperse, rounded up, and arrested, and many stayed multiple nights incarcerated without ever being charged with a crime. Some of these people were actually bystanders…..

    That all being said, if you are aware of the facts and still believe that protest should be something done away with, then you sir are in the wrong country. Peacefull protest is a Constitutionaly protected right of the people, and a perfectly reasonable expression of the first amendment.

    Nobody here is defending destruction of private property, contrary to what some might believe, many libertarians are property owners and respect the right to property of our fellow man. What we are defending, is a citizens right to protest, and the right to be reasonably assured that our law enforcement officials will observe our rights as citizens.

  8. Yeah, people protest peacefully and get arrested with no probable cause. Reason doesn’t care. But reason bitches and rants about how regulation is strangling us to death. SMASH THE STATE! THE ONLY GOVERNMENT WE NEED IS THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION! LET PEOPLE DO WHAT THEY WANT! WE DON”T NEED NO POLLUTION REGULATIONS! WE DON’T NEED ANY REGULATIONS! ALLOW PEOPLE TO RETURN TO THEIR ANIMAL INSTINCTS!

    this is what reason’s dream is. Heh, ironic name for a magazine like this.

  9. The constitution expressly list “assembly” as a protected form of political activity. I was just observing that I could imagine a society that restricted assembly without losing much by it.

    When I was a kid my Dad told me only an idiot would make up his mind about something because other people held a parade. Works for me.

  10. Andrew-

    And only an idiot would make up his mind about something because other people had some bumper stickers or yard signs or buttons on their lapels. So we really wouldn’t lose all that much if those forms of expression were banned.

    For that matter, when’s the last time anybody’s mind was changed by comments on a blog? We have no editor, fact checker, or peer review, so anything said here has to be regarded with extreme skepticism. So if the government banned comments on blogs we really wouldn’t lose much.

    For that matter, there are few few laws that, in and of themselves, severely restrict freedom in this country. (Yes, I know, there are exceptions.) Mostly it’s the cumulative weight of lots of laws, lots of regulations, and all sorts of other things. Death by a thousand paper cuts, if you will.

    I’d rather draw the line at protests and defend their free speech and assembly, because if that domino falls the next battle might be over what I read, or what is said on the radio, or whatever.

  11. “And only an idiot would make up his mind about something because other people had some bumper stickers or yard signs or buttons on their lapels”


  12. I admit that it’s only a small minority of the protestors that are causing property damage, but I think most of them make a conscious effort to disrupt the normal functioning of the city or to prevent these trade meetings from occuring. Large-scale urban protests have massive negative externalities with very little expressive value.

    But I think the problem can be dealt with in a manner compatible with libertarian ideology. The basic problem is an excess of public property in urban areas. If the area surrounding the meeting sites were privately owned there would be no First Amendment implications in preventing these kinds of protests. It’s a tragedy of the commons situation. Protestors aren’t bearing the social costs incurred by their protests.

  13. Xavier is right. But the streets and sidewalks ARE publicly owned…and they weren’t principally created as Protest Platforms, any more than the interiors of public access buildings were. No one would claim that demonstraters had the right to use the interior of the county library as a rally/parade site, because it is publicly owned and permits unrestricted access to citizens during normal business hours. Why are streets and sidewalks designed as conduits for traffic “priveledged zones” for the right of assembly?

  14. You guys are arguing about this like it turned out badly, but, the way I see it, everything worked the way it should.

    If you’re participating in a demonstration, and some of the demonstrators start to smash and burn buildings, shouldn’t the police shut the demonstration down? Let me put it another way, in a society in which the police are responsive to the people, assuming most people are against things like smashing and burning buildings, shouldn’t the police put an end to even legal behaviour, sometimes?

    Take someone who is out driving drunk for instance. Even if the drunk driver isn’t over the LEGAL limit, if a cop thinks he shoudn’t be driving shouldn’t he book him anyway? It keeps him in the tank at least long enough to dry out. It’s a public safety issue.

    Now, I’m not saying that our example drunk should be convicted of a crime IN COURT if he was under the legal limit, and, as I wrote above, I don’t think the protestors should have been convicted. But the job of the police, if they’re responsive to the people, is to keep order by ACCUSING people of crimes. So they took some people off the street for the night and charged them with a crime…big deal!

    They weren’t convicted.

    They shouldn’t have been convicted. The riot, and it was a riot, died out. The Seattle 157 weren’t sent to some pre-9/11 Guantanamo. They were released on their own recognizance (a promise to appear for a hearing). Big Deal!

    Now if they had been convicted, it would have been a big deal. But they weren’t, so relax.

    By many of my libertarian brethren ( oh and sistren too), I’m considered pretty hard core, but even I don’t think that the police should stop charging people with crimes…especially when buildings are on fire.

    P.S. For Pete’s sake!

  15. Yeah, the slope is neither steep nor slippery. I can’t think of any examples of a free society that lost its liberty by any sort of gradual erosion, in small increments.
    Of course, the history of liberty in the modern sense is scant and brief…still the “danger” appears misconstrued, and way over-stated.

  16. I’m staying entirely sober this night, but the temptation is increased reading thoreau (whose posts I almost always find insightful and worth reading) claim it would be no big deal if the state forbad people from debating politics online (or at least on blogs), and Shultz supporting that the police should accuse people of crimes they know they are not committing, as if this were a legitimate form of crowd control.

    This is a libertarian, i.e., classically liberal, site, right? Individual human rights are a real fetish, and non-initiation of force a fundamental principle? (Protesters doing NOTHING wrong can righteously be arrested — coerced and cuffed and thrown in the slammer — and *charged with a crime when the cops KNOW they have committed no crime?! Are you fucking insane?)

    And thoreau, let me tell you, I have seen a good number of folks change their minds about drug policy as a result of my online propaganda efforts at various message board, and the efforts of other well-informed anti-prohibitionists. Indeed, the drug warriors are fully aware of all the anti-prohibitionist sentiment “out here,” and one of them has mused about criminalizing anti-prohibitionist utterances. (Rep. Solomon- R NY)

    Further, it DOES make an impact on people if a LOT of others are wearing a certain lapel accoutrement and the like. It communicates the popularity of a position and can generate interest in and respect for it.

    My mother is a rigid pro-lifer; she wears those little fetus feet on her shirt. This has led to more than one interesting political conversation between her and a casual acquaintance, and with at least one stranger. Is this not the very essence of political liberty and free speech?

    Finally, I have changed my mind about several matters since becoming active in online debates. I am signifdicantly less hawkish now, and more open to some criticism of Israel (tho still supportive of its right to exist). That is only one example of areas in which my views have been modified by political discussion on the ‘net.

    (Logging off, feeling that I am Alice fallen through the looking glass.)

  17. Andrew: How easily people forget history, at the chance of being labeled a troll. Need I remind you that in 1935 Germany was very much a free, democratic, and industrialized nation. In 1938 the people elected a leader, who in less then 2 years eroded the free society, inprisoned hundreds of thousands, violated thier civil liberties, and sucessfully exterminated 6 million Jews.

    But it seems anytime someone points these facts out, they are labeled a troll, moron, etc.

    Call me what you want, but while extreme, it is very much an example of a free society that lost its liberty, and in the process, drew a world into war.

    Now before you start saying Im comparing the US to to Nazi Germany, I am not, I am mearly pointing out the fact that you overlooked an example of a free society that had its liberties eroded over time.

  18. Mona-

    I was being sarcastic. Andrew was saying it was no big deal if people lost their right to protest in public. He said only an idiot would give consideration to an idea just because a protestor said it. I disagree with him (applying all due caveats that protests shouldn’t destroy property, injure people, etc., and everybody can include in that “etc.” all the things that are likely to cause disagreement if they were explicitly stated).

    So I decided to say “yeah, and it would be no big deal if we lost our right to debate politics online. I mean, there’s no quality control here, and only an idiot would change his mind based on statements that haven’t been properly vetted. So let the state regulate away.” I was trying to poke fun at his statement.

    I apologize for the confusion. And I call for a law banning sarcastic comments in blogs 😉

  19. Late

    Actually Hitler assumed the Chancellorship of Germany in 1933, afer his party received a purality of the vote in the most recent election, and made a deal with the Catholic Centre and Nationalist parties. Nearly all political liberties were extinguished shortly after this through a remarkably concise set of emergency edicts.

    I did not say that free societies cannot succumb to tyranny, but rather that the danger didn’t arise out of, say, an anti-loitering statute passed in all innocence years before by unwary legislators.

    Really, it is pretty difficult for any established democracy to cave before anything short of an external conquest. Germany 1933 may stand alone as an exception (of sorts)in the industrialised world.

  20. Disappointing. A lawful protest is about being heard, not about putting enough bodies on the street to overwhelm law enforcement authorities. The latter has been the stated goal of anti-globalization protests all over the world and this ruling will just encourage more of the same.

  21. people protest peacefully and get arrested with no probable cause. Reason doesn’t care.

    If Reason doesn’t care, why did Reason blog the story?

  22. Way to go, Late.

    Bush = Hitler, and anybody who says this is a phony comparison is just a, um, I think Atrios’ term is “moronic brownshirt fuck.” I think you are more genteel – you’d probably call me a Jew-stomping SS henchmen for disagreeing with you on the Patriot Act = Cristallnacht argument.

    Therefore, you win the argument, at least by your own definitions.

    How edifying for us all…

  23. Stephen, you completely misunderstood Late’s post. He specifically says that he’s not comparing the United States to Nazi Germany. He was just trying to refute the claim that no democratic country gradually lost its freedom through democratic processes. He was clearly not making a Bush=Hitler argument.

  24. Seven, John Hensley,

    You guys should read up on the tactics actually used by local law enforcement during anti-globalization demos. For the most part, the cops were deliberately and consciously violating the law. They preemptively arrested activist leaders in the days before the demos, on whatever trumped up charges they could think up, and then held them until the event was over. This court ruling isn’t about the protesters; it’s about whether the cops have a free hand to act like jackbooted thugs.

    I challenge you to read this account of police tactics at antiglobalization demos from Seattle to the GOP convention: Paul Rosenberg. “The Empire Strikes Back: Police Repression of Protest From Seattle to L.A.” L.A. Independent Media Center (13 August 2000) http://www.r2kphilly.org/pdf/empire-strikes.pdf

  25. Tom-

    So, you really don’t care if the government imprisons people whom you don’t like? Even if they weren’t actually harming people or property? (Yes, yes, I know, some of the protestors in Seattle were harming people and property, the issue here is what the gov’t should or shouldn’t do with the people who weren’t harming people or property.)

    Saying that it’s just peachy for the gov’t to trample on the rights of people you don’t like is basically an acceptance of dictatorship. Even the most brutal dictators of all usually leave certain groups of people unmolested (and those unmolested groups are usually the ones who join the secret police and whatnot).

    As to the notion of “I disagree with what you say but I’ll defend your right to say it”, the idea is that people are setting aside certain disagreements to band together on one thing they do agree on: government shouldn’t interfere with free speech.

  26. the problem is i keep running into these strawmen at parties/shows/whatever, greens for dean type folk. they’re unavoidable, unfortunately. some are very nice people, if collectively much too fond of cocaine for my tastes. very few of them seem to function outside of the confines of their chosen identity collectors kit action figure set.

    part of that set is “guns is bad.” the other part of that set is “god r dumb” – both of which would be fine if they had tacked on a “for me” at the end of it. but there is a prevailing sentiment that koresh and crew had it coming to them for collecting guns in the first place.

    it’s mad fucktarded, yo. they’re the fashionable dopplegangers of many in this thread, as it were.

  27. “A U.S. District Judge decides that 157 arrests of protestors during the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle had no probable cause.”

    Gee the courts found the police fucked up. FASCISM!!!!!!

  28. Okay, a bunch of not-quite-assholes got rounded up in Seattle because they happened to be at the same place in time where a smaller bunch of bona fide assholes started running amok. Police, following the doctrine of blanket suppression as the quickest way to stop trouble, round everybody up and then sort them out. Turns out that the not-quite-assholes (to the police they were nothing but potential assholes) were finally cleared. Big deal.

    I learned early on (maybe too many of you out there are still green behind the ears) that if you are in the presence of trouble but are not causing trouble yourself, your best course is to get the hell out of there, lest you risk the appearance of guilt by association. That’s how these things work. You do bear some responsibility for being where you are at any given time. Nobody busted into their homes and dragged them off to jail. End of story.

    I swear, this board breeds the most paranoid thinking. We are not headed for a dictatorship just because a few malcontents were inconvenienced when their little protest march was busted up. What a bunch of naive chicken littles.

    And the comparison between Seattle and Waco is nauseating. None of the Branch Davidians did anything near bad enough to warrant what the Clinton Administration did to them. To compare the innocent children who fried in that pit with any of the assholes on the streets of Seattle is an abomination.

  29. i was comparing attitudes, not outcomes.

    “Actually, I don’t like the type of people who were protesting in Seattle (or anywhere else against “globalization”) so if they all rotted in prison or in hell I wouldn’t really care.”

    which is very similar to “they were christian maniacs with guns, so they should have known better before being beset by a military assault”

    much more amusing is:

    “If you said it, then you can defend yourself, or else whatever you said isn’t really worth saying.”

    obviously, those children should have learned to defend themselves better, eh?

  30. Tom-

    First, I agree that these arrests are not harbingers of a coming tyrant. However, I firmly believe that one reason America is a free country is because we have enough people who do freak out if the government makes bad arrests, or any other minor incursion by the government. This “domino theory” of tyranny, however paranoid or mistaken it might be, is a vital check and balance on the government. It isn’t perfect, it hasn’t stopped all serious abuses of power, but it serves a vital function.

    Second, the significance of this verdict goes beyond 150 or so people arrested for perhaps being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Given the increasingly aggressive measures being used even against non-violent, non-disruptive protestors, I like a precedent that says the police must actually have some reason to arrest a person, not just “well, there were some violent protestors in the city, so we arrested anybody carrying a sign that day.” Sure, they were released, but being arrested still interfere’s with a person’s day, so it shouldn’t be done without some sort of justification.

    Third, you aren’t just getting flak because you don’t care all that much about this case. You’re getting flak because you said:

    Actually, I don’t like the type of people who were protesting in Seattle (or anywhere else against “globalization”) so if they all rotted in prison or in hell I wouldn’t really care.

    This goes WAY beyond not getting too upset if the police occasionally arrest somebody without justification and then correct their mistake by releasing him.

  31. dhex,

    The Branch Davidians stood up pretty well against the first wave of ATF stormtroopers, didn’t they? And if you do suffer from paranoid delusions a la David Koresh, you have to suspect that some day, someone will come for you.

    The Davidians took steps to defend whatever it was that they had to “say”. The Seattle pussies went crying to a group call Trial Lawyers for Public Justice (there’s a name to turn your bowels to water).

    Again, where was personal responsibility in this? There was a designated no-protest zone (we have the right to protest, but not the right to protest wherever we want; we have the right to free speech, but not the right to force people to listen to us). People, some innocently and some not so, ventured into this zone. Shit started to fly. The police grabbed everyone, and sorted it out later. Other than false pride, what really was injured? Why are we still crying about this four years later?

  32. Thoreau,

    What I find amazing is that there are still people who believe that a “protest march” accomplishes anything, other than letting them mug for TV cameras.

    As to not caring about the fate of such people, I really don’t, and I’m ready to defend my right to not care. If ultimately THEY come for me, then that’s my fight. You’re welcome to join in if you want, but you’re not obligated to if you don’t agree with me.

  33. Tom-

    You of course have the right to not care. And I have the right to be disturbed if somebody doesn’t care whether political opponents are imprisoned. Some of my relatives, when faced with a disagreement, then say “If you argue with me you aren’t respecting my right to think this way.” But, since we’re on a discussion board, I’m going to, well, discuss. So I’ll acknowledge your right to think that way (obviously) and then continue my argument, with the understanding that we both have the right to our opinions.

    There are a lot of people in this world that I don’t care much about as individuals. But I care very much about how the government treats them, because what the government does unto them it can do unto me. I am a little mystified that on this supposedly libertarian site people would actually come and say “I don’t like their viewpoints, so I wouldn’t even care if the government imprisoned them and let them rot.” I have to admit that if I knew the government would never do unto me, I might have a harder time caring about how some people are treated. But few government officials have ever followed through on a promise to only abuse power in some instances but not others.

    Perhaps the root of our disagreement is the distinction between caring about the people and caring about the policy. So let me ask you a question: Is it only the well-being of the protestors that you don’t care about, or do you also not care about what powers the government asserts in dealing with them?

  34. tom: machismo is a lost art, indeed.

    or to draw another painfully obvious line – one doesn’t have to be one of the wealthy who give the most to political parties and candidates at those $5k a plate dinners and the like to see that stumping against mccain-feingold is a worthy cause, neo-darwinisms aside. sure, limits on campaign finance don’t directly affect me now…but creating an imaginary division between acceptable and unnacceptable types of speech most certainly will, eventually.

  35. “We are not headed for a dictatorship just because a few malcontents were inconvenienced when their little protest march was busted up.”

    Just thought this was worth repeating.

  36. Thoreau,

    I care very deeply about the powers and methods government would use to stifle dissent. I would be the first on the barricades if innocent people were dragged from their homes or offices while in the course of their daily doings. Let’s look at the Waco/Seattle analogy. The Branch Davidians were not in active revolt, were not seriously planning any dastardly deeds, were not conspiring with others to launch an assault on anybody. They were at home. The government’s handling of their situation was totally hamhanded, as well as criminal, and was totally out of proportion to even the alleged “dangers” the Branch Davidians posed at that time.

    In Seattle, on the other hand, you had people actively in the street seeking to disrupt the daily functioning of the city, much less any WTO gatherings. The decision was made, either by someone hiding in a safe office or by a ranking officer out sweating in the face of what could soon turn into an out of control mob, to clamp down as fast as, and in police-think as safely as, possible. In other words, arrest everybody.

    Stupid reasoning, maybe. But I wasn’t there to judge, and it wasn’t my call.

    We seem to be seeing a blurring between “protest” and “disrupt”. I am all in favor of the right to protest, but not in any perceived right to disrupt. If you disrupt, then maybe you should make plans for a little personal disruption heading your way.

    Were the anti-globalization folks content with peaceful marches, web sites, newsletters and bestsellers at Barnes & Noble, then I would say “more power to you”. But this in-your-face form of protest (ACT-UP, PETA, etc.) that has arisen over the past couple of decades is pushing the boundaries. And getting a push back in return should come as no surprise to these people.

  37. That’s actually a good point, Tom. But the lesson “Don’t be violent or disruptive, or you’ll end up in a cell” tends to get lost when the police treat the people who are being peaceful in exactly the same manner that they treat those who are violent and disruptive. Why bother to display discretion, when you’re going into the clink whether you smash the window or not?

  38. “We are not headed for a dictatorship just because a few malcontents were inconvenienced when their little protest march was busted up”.

    Thanks, Joe. On further reading, I feel like it needs to be said again. So here.

  39. One the flip side, Joe, if nobody breaks a window, then nobody goes to jail.

    During some Vietnam-era protest marches, there were “peace marshals” among the marchers to try to stop any problems that might happen whenever you gather a lot of emotionally-charged people together. Maybe the anti-globalization crowd has not yet reached the maturity to police itself.

  40. Actually, they do. The problem is, lots of different groups show up, some of whom are inclined towards violence, and some of whom may well be provocateurs looking to discredit the rest.

    The name for your philosophy, btw, is “collective punishment.” It didn’t work with Ukranian partisans, either.

  41. tom: i realize there’s a cultural gap here which may be leading to quite a bit of confusion.

    to a lot of people, just having guns is more or less “asking for it.” by being part of an insane, tiny cult (NRM) they were asking for it even worse.

    though we’ll see if i remain so judicious during the third day of no blood for freedom fries when the RNC rolls into town.

  42. Tom-

    You’re absolutely right, if nobody breaks a window then nobody goes to jail. But does that mean if somebody breaks a window then EVERYBODY should go to jail?

    Also, to go back to an earlier comment, you said:
    The Davidians took steps to defend whatever it was that they had to “say”. The Seattle pussies went crying to a group call Trial Lawyers for Public Justice (there’s a name to turn your bowels to water).

    I know that I’ll be accused of defending what happened to the Davidians, but I’ll say this anyway: The Davidians chose to defend themselves from the government by shooting at cops. The protestors chose to follow the rule of law and challenge their unlawful arrests in court.

    This in no way excuses what the gov’t did in Waco. No matter how violent the leaders were, there was no justification for burning down the compound with people inside it (especially the children). None. Zilch. Zero. Nada. But go ahead and accuse me of defending it anyway, because I know somebody will.

    I can’t bring myself to respect the Davidians for their method of resistance. I can condemn the government for its methods, but I cannot respect the Davidians for theirs. And although I admit to not liking lawyers, somehow it seems to me that a court of law is the right place to contest an unlawful arrest, at least if one believes in the concept of a republic based on the rule of law.

    But, let’s say that the protestors in question (i.e. the ones who weren’t doing anything wrong but got arrested anyway) had chosen to show their cojones by shooting at the cops. I wonder if Tom would have made any favorable comparisons of the protestors. I doubt it.

    So, basically what I’m saying is this:
    -The cops shouldn’t arrest people who aren’t hurting anyone.
    -If the cops do make such an arrest, the arrest SHOULD be challenged in court.
    -The right way to resist the executive branch is by taking it to court and lobbying the legislature, not by shooting at law enforcement officials.

  43. Thoreau,

    The Branch Davidians were on their own property – private property, personal property – when the jackbooted thugs of the ATF showed.The Seattle protestors were on public streets and sidewalks, owned just as much by me (were I living in Seattle) as they (were they living in Seattle). If the use of public space is not for the common good (destroying the personal property of others, etc.) then I fully expect my employees (the police) to make it so by removing any threat. There’s a difference between pulling a gun in defense of your home and pulling a gun in public in defense of some perceived right to be disruptive.

  44. Tom-

    We aren’t talking about the right to be disruptive. We’re talking about people who were arrested even though they weren’t causing trouble, including some innocent bystanders who weren’t protesting at all.

    As to the Davidians, I’m not suggesting that the ATF should have raided them. I’m saying that violence is not the right way to handle a dispute with the state as long as the rule of law still applies.

  45. Thoreau,

    Police apply the same logic to traffic stops that they did in Seattle. Why else would you be handcuffed and placed in the back of a patrol car for virtually no reason. I always laugh when I hear police say that this is for the individual’s own “safety”. You may see it as an abridgement of your rights. The Thin Blue Line see it as maintaining control of the situation (Webster’s definitions of “control freak” and “paranoid” should both be illustrated by policemen).

    I agree with you on the importance of the rule of law, but what if, as in Waco, government itself steps outside the spirit if not the letter of the law? You can witness any number of midnight drug raid videos and notice that the announcement of a search warrant is followed mighty closely by the smashing of doors. Anyway, how do you really KNOW that those are legally certified officers of the law busting down your door at 3 a.m.?

    As for innocent bystanders, well, shit does happen. And curiosity did do in the feline. Maybe those folks should have stayed in and watched the fun through the windows. That doesn’t make their arrests right, but it also doesn’t make it a sign of the Apocalypse.

  46. Andrew asks, “Why are streets and sidewalks designed as conduits for traffic “priveledged zones” for the right of assembly?”

    That’s a really neat issue. Short answer: because they are. Tradition. It is an accepted part of the definition of what a street is.

    In a recent case, the Salt Lake City sold a block-long stretch of Main Street in the downtown (bastards!) to the LDS, who owned the properties adjacent, so they could create a “campus” feel. As one of the conditions of the sale, the City required the Mormons to preserve the right of the public to pass and repass over the street – the common language used in legal documents to mean “you can use it as a street.” The Mormons then began confiscated pamphlets from political activists and other religions, and ejecting speakers from the “street,” saying they had the right to restrict speech on their own property. The court (I forget which one) ruled that free speech rights inhere to a street. In other words, saying your mind and engaging in First Amendment-type behavior is part and parcel of what using a public street is for.

  47. Actually, I don’t like the type of people who were protesting in Seattle (or anywhere else against “globalization”) so if they all rotted in prison or in hell I wouldn’t really care.

    Of course, as an 8-year-old kid watching the ’68 Demo Convention protests on TV, the only thought running through my mind then was, “Why don’t the police just shoot them?”.

  48. no blood for freedom fries crowd is generally dumb….

    but anyone who wants to screw them – even obviously only in their own imagination – just to spite them because of their politics is even dumber.

  49. tom: you sound like a liberal talking about waco. congratulations! 🙂

  50. “i mean, all those yucky guns!”

  51. Never had such a though, dhex. Never heard anyone else express it, either. A lot of people on this board have what I call “liberal in your head” syndrome, but yours sounds nastier than most.

    The only people I’ve ever heard express the thought “why don’t the police just shoot him” were my right-wing roomies, when the local news reported on a mentally ill black man who was running amok with a hatchet. The police surrounded him, and after a couple hourse talked him into surrendering. Their response? “What a waste of time! He’s got an ax! Shoot him!” Sort of like Tom.

  52. shit man, i’m quoting! i live in new york city, and i’ve heard that in relation to waco from more than a few people. gun fearing liberal is a sad yet living archetype here.

    i wish these fucks only lived in my head. i could sick some of the gun fetishists on them (creepy bastards in their own right).

    what you forget joe is that most people on both sides of the fence are truly boot-licking authoritarian-lovin’ subs in bare disguise – so long as the right foot is wearing the boot. notice the complete lack of outcry from dems over clinton’s actions in ’96, like bush supporters who say “patriot act? what’s the big deal? why are you all upset…are you TERRORISTS???”

  53. and obviously when i say “liberals” i mean some, but not all, liberals.

    just as i hold the slight glimmer of hope that there are some pro-authoritarian bottoms out there who aren’t completely without principle.

  54. Just wanted to point out, the guy who called police “paranoid” is the guy who celebrated the Branch Davidians for shooting at them.

    If I was a cop, and I pulled over Tom on a traffic stop, I would totally handcuff him in the back of the car until someone else got there.

  55. Joe,

    Actually, I’m kinda in line with PETA on the subject of mentally deranged black men running amok with axes. “A boy is a rat is a pig is a cockatoo” or whatever that assininity was. If we can gun down mad dogs in the street, then why not?

    I have never bought the “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend with my life your right to say it” bullshit. If you said it, then you can defend yourself, or else whatever you said isn’t really worth saying.

  56. Joe

    How do you feel about that SLC decision? I sure as hell wish the courts had decide otherwise about airports– I think everyone who uses airports feels that way. Especially with everything else these days, who needs the krishnas and the scientologists?

  57. shit man, we *all* need krishnas and scientologists and jesus crispies and a mitzvah tank and some of those pocket-protector nerds from the skeptical enquirer yelling “it’s all in your head!”

    i have a soft spot in my heart for the hardcore headsmashers turned krishna kiddies….they really do know how to keep a catchy tune going.

  58. I’m all for the SLC decision. The opportunity for the marketplace of ideas to function is an important good, even though it can occasionally be a pain in the ass.

  59. i forgot to mention jews for jesus. i love their pamphlets.

  60. Joe-

    I know that most (the word “most” meaning there are exceptions) liberals didn’t say “Why don’t the feds just shoot the Branch Davidian?”

    But what I think dhex meant is that Tom sounds like a straw-man stereotype of a liberal talking about Waco. In other words, Tom sounds like the sort of person that most conservatives and libertarians are taught to dislike. It was more about Tom than about the attitudes of actual liberals, if I’m reading dhex’s comment accurately.

  61. Mona-

    I think the problem is that too many people here are more concerned with opposing the left than they are with protecting freedom. Obviously, in many cases opposition to the left is part of protecting freedom. However, it is possible to take this opposition too far, and go from opposing the left to turning a blind eye when the cops exceed their proper authority.

    (Some might also suggest that there are issues where the left is actually pro-freedom, but most people here will scoff at that suggestion, so why bother?)

    Also, I hope you read my post saying that I was warcastic when I said it’s OK for the gov’t to regulate online political discussions. It was a sarcastic response to someone who said that it wouldn’t be a big deal if we lost the right to protest.

  62. Thoreau and Mona,

    This is really a debate about Sovereign Immunity– the extent to which our police are allowed to make some mistakes, without second-guessing.

    If this results in a big pay-day for the “victims” and their lawyers(!!!), where will THAT go?

    An incentive to stage more WTO style protests: uncontrollably large crowds in public venues, where a “small minority” of protestors trash property while a larger mob of “peaceful” protestors and “bystanders” run interference for them– either the over-burdened cops tolerate mob violence, or create a stream of income (through follow-up lawsuits) to the associated cause-groups.

    It is the responsibility of good citizens to help police defuse mob situations.

    And sometimes bad luck is just bad luck. (On the way to work, you got cuffed…it’s a good story– big deal.)

  63. a “small minority” of protestors trash property while a larger mob of “peaceful” protestors and “bystanders” run interference for them

    The cops should ignore the peaceful demonstrators and bystanders and go after the people who actually harmed people or property. If the cops waste their time on people who didn’t harm people or property then not only are they violating somebody’s rights (although admittedly most people here don’t seem to give a hoot about the rights of non-violent protestors, sadly), they’re ignoring more serious crimes.

    So even if you think non-violent protestors are leftist scum who deserve no rights (a position that a disturbing number of people seem to have), shouldn’t you still want the police to concentrate on the thugs who are actually trashing people and property? Or is going after ideological opponents more important than protecting people and property?

  64. Oh, here’s a thought: What if the police started finding technicalities to go after gun owners who weren’t harming or threatening people or property? I’ll bet this forum would be screaming bloody murder. People would (quite correctly) point out that gun ownership is protected by the 2nd amendment.

    But if cops go after protestors who weren’t harming people or property, anybody who complains is just a crybaby and leftist sympathizer, never mind that the protestors are also exercising a Constitutionally protected right (to peaceably assemble and petition for a redress of grievances).

    If it ain’t guns or taxes, it ain’t a libertarian concern I guess.

  65. Thoreau

    Much of the damage done by unruly crowds– at protest, concert, street-parties, or sports events– is the accumulation of thousands of small acts of vandalism: each seperately, nearly trivial.

    To see, apprehend, and collect evidence– cops would have to command a massive presence, employ tremendous surveillance, and already exercise a considerable degree of control over the crowd. This is not only unrealistic– but has a “chilling effect” anyway.

    More sensible– things get out of hand…parties over! Happens all the time, after sports victories. We are re-visiting soccer hooliganism.

    Some prior restraint would help, too. Can you imagine a judge issuing a parade permit to team-boosters, due to take effect shortly after a game will be concluded (as opposed to, say, the following day)? Of course not– because of what would likely happen.

    Anti-globalists couldn’t have gotten a million people to Seattle a week later– but they would have had my blessing to try.

  66. Tom from TX writes: >>Were the anti-globalization folks content with peaceful marches, web sites, newsletters and bestsellers at Barnes & Noble, then I would say “more power to you”. But this in-your-face form of protest (ACT-UP, PETA, etc.) that has arisen over the past couple of decades is pushing the boundaries. And getting a push back in return should come as no surprise to these people.

  67. “This is really a debate about Sovereign Immunity– the extent to which our police are allowed to make some mistakes, without second-guessing.”

    I could forgive mistakes, and do tend to give police the benefit of the doubt on close calls (the recent Cincinatti case, for example).

    But there is no way to look at the events of that day and conclude that the arrest of the peaceful protestors was a mistake. They were herded into an area, by police, from which they could not exit. They were ordered to disperse, but there were platoons of police blocking every possible exit. They were then arrested for failing to obey an order that the police made damn sure they could not obey. If you don’t see a setup here, I’d like to talk to you about some penis enlargement cream.

    Similarly, there is no way to read your comments as assuming this was a mistake. If you think it’s a mistake, why would you spend so much time arguing that it’s exactly what the police should be doing?

  68. Joe-

    But the police were doing a good thing: They were going after leftists! I mean, isn’t that what libertarianism is all about?

  69. One important thing that seems to be forgotten now is that accepting the punishment for civil disobedience is a critical component of civil disobedience.

    Would the messages of Thoreau or King have been as powerful if they had made them from their parents homes in the burbs instead of from prison cells?

  70. Lots of pics, galleries and movies !!

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