VOCABULARY REFRESHER: PEACEFUL PROTEST

As I’ve mentioned before, I do believe that one of the biggest problems our society is facing with our current politics has to be vocabulary manipulation. It’s one of the most common tools used to take people’s opinions of other groups and turn it to something negative by the constant, repeated misuse of a word that makes it seem like something it’s not. I’ve brought up a number of examples in the past. I’ve seen it so often that I’ve been moved to address the issue directly and begin a series of articles that will specifically target some of the most common misused language and try to put it right. Our subject of study in this installment is “peaceful protest”.

At one time it would’ve sounded absurd that anyone would actually have to take a look at what seems to be such an obvious term. The two words are familiar enough to give the reasonable expectation of a common understanding. Few can truly say that they don’t understand either and that would lead to the obvious assumption that there’s little room for misunderstanding.

But these are strange times.

As with the rest of this series we will first take a look at the definitions and hope to bring people back to a reasonable stance on what is included in the idea of “peaceful protest”. We’ll pull the definitions most relevant to the misuse that we see today.

From Merriam-Webster…

-peaceful
 adjective

peace·​ful | \ ˈpēs-fəl  \
Definition of peaceful

2: untroubled by conflict, agitation, or commotion

-protest
 noun

Definition of protest

2: the act of objecting or a gesture of disapprovalresigned in protestespecially : a usually organized public demonstration of disapproval


Seems pretty straightforward, right? But is that how we are seeing it used? If we take a look at the examples we are given we see nothing of the sort.

One of the popular stances that I’ve seen is the one claiming that if no people are injured then it’s “peaceful”. Now, take a look back at that definition. It covers far more ground than just bodily injury. And what kind of examples have been given as acceptable or “peaceful” that do not fit the criteria? Have you seen the reports of protesters gathering to harass diners on sidewalks screaming that they show fealty by saying someone’s name or holding their fist in the air? Perhaps you’ve heard of the mob outside of the RNC convention that accosted the Paul family and Jones’s? Reports say that the black, democratic lawmaker was subjected to verbal abuse ranging from “disgrace” to “house n*gger”. The stance that many who support the protests/riots took was that Paul was blowing things out of proportion (keep in mind that Paul was present at the softball practice where Red Team players were targeted so he has good reason to be wary) and that he was never in any real danger. There’s almost no reporting of the situation that Jones was subjected to.

Is this peaceful? Would they take the same stance for a KKK rally that went through their town as long as no one was harmed? I think not.

Conflict. Agitation. Commotion. All of the boxes were checked. The police trying to escort Jones away from the convention were blocked repeatedly before being able to finally make their way to their destination. The street diners are surrounded by throngs in an agitated state demanding acquiesence to their cause. Don’t those diners have every reason to believe that they might be in danger? With all that we’ve seen from the protests/riots we KNOW just how bad things can get in a short period of time. We see some lawmakers supporting the blocking of highways and other infrastructure for the sake of “sending a message”. There are a couple of points to note here. One- how can the same politicians who campaign on and try to promote taxes for this same infrastructure then turn around and support the blocking of that very same vital resource. Emergency response, interstate commerce and the work-related traveler all suffer from this activity. And for what? The second point- there isn’t a media outlet in the country who hasn’t covered the subject. The point of protests is said to be to raise awareness. Who isn’t aware that racism exists? Who isn’t aware that sometimes people lose their lives to police action? At some point, it’s no longer bringing awareness so much as going through the motions.

And nothing kills interest as well as repetitiveness.

And what of the subjects of the protests? While protesters will tell you that they are protesting unjust police action, as we find out more and more about the “victims” we should really reassess things as the information comes out. Jacob Blake was the most recent high exposure focus of protests. The police report states that the officers were responding to a call from his girlfriend saying that he was there when he wasn’t supposed to be on the premises. The dispatcher told the officers that he had taken the woman’s keys and had refused to leave. He fought with the responding officers. He was tazed to no effect. There was a knife recovered from the SUV that he was trying to enter. As events progressed it was found that he had a warrant for his arrest from the month previous for third degree sexual assault, trespassing and disorderly conduct. A wanted man fights with the cops and tries to enter a vehicle where a weapon is present and this is seen as unjust when the officers resort to deadly force AFTER attempting everything else at their disposal to take in a wanted man? Is THIS something that we want to promote as injustice? What’s more, the aunt of his victim has brought up the fact that now when she watches the NBA she will be treated to the sight of a whole league of professional athletes promoting her attacker.

Does that make you reconsider your stance? The fact that every week that girl will be reliving the moment of her abuse while also knowing that the perception of that individual being sold to the public means that if she has any negative comments it will likely end in her being shouted down on top of the mental anguish she’s already experiencing?

It should.

And of course we must look at the opportunists. The politicians, news outlets and public figures who let no disaster go to waste. Those who use carefully crafted terms like “mostly peaceful” to salvage support for what no one should be supporting. Those who work feverishly to get a story out before the facts so that narratives can be in place before there’s anything to derail them. How many of these “martyrs” have later been found to be in the middle of criminal activity? How many have been found to have extensive rap sheets? What these big voices know is that you don’t gin up support by saying that a career criminal was shot during a police action. It only works if it can be claimed an innocent was unjustly targeted by the police and they always make it seem as if it’s in regards to race. How often have you seen stories about officers killing unarmed individuals of any other race?

Do you not wonder why that is?

Race is political capital for some and it has value across the spectrum. Think about how differently you would view many of the most prominent stories of the day if they included nothing about race. Would you feel the same way about some of these shootings? Would you be as passionate about open borders? Would you even take notice? Be honest with yourself.

And of course, the “mostly peaceful” protests themselves must be discussed. How much damage, destruction and pain must be visited on a community before it moves beyond peaceful? Apparently, it’s a high threshold. Buildings can be burned. Stores can be looted. People can be beaten (after all, it’s not like they were SHOT or anything). Even with all of this, too many are reluctant to admit that nothing fits the premise of a peaceful protest at this point. It’s a blatant attempt to draw as much attention away from the negative aspect so that it still seems virtuous to support what’s going on. And that’s important because some politicians have built their base around racial squabbles and the more of that you can turn to your campaign pitches the more success you have at the polls. The more you can fit into the stance you take on your news coverage, the more viewers you attract. The more you can get to donate to your non-profit. The list goes on and on.

As with the others in this series, I feel that this is one of those “sticking points” that perpetuates the Great Divide in our society. Misguided feelings about standing for justice keep some supporting protests/riots that have gone completely past anything acceptable. Disbelief at support for career criminals keeps some from even talking about police reform because the examples put forth are so ludicrous in most instances. Protest is important. Truly, our country was founded in protest and was so important to the Founding Fathers that it was enshrined as a basic protection for out people.. if done peacefully. But we always have to remember that protesting without peace is know by another name.. “anarchy”.

No civilization can exist in the midst of anarchy.

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