You’re Not Protesting Right (aka Shut Up)

I see it took less than a week for the YER NOT PROTESTING RIGHT scolds to start up in earnest, given this weekend’s tsk-tsking of protesting outside conservative justices’ homes.

There was also lots and lots of smoke and very little fire regarding the much-hyped “mass protests disrupting church services” threat – sure, there were a few, but nothing like what was claimed would happen. Remember, it’s not taking away the rights that’s The Worst, it’s saying that it’s bad and trying to stop it. That’s truly The Worst.

For example, Democratic “Strategist” Robert Shrum and CNN Political News Guy John Harwood weighed in about the protests happening outside Beer Enthusiast Brett Kavanaugh’s and Mushy Chief Justice John Roberts’ homes. These protests are peaceful, yet they are portrayed as something much different.

But whatever the pearl-clutchers want to think, it’s a constitutionally protected right.

An interesting theory posited by McGill University Department of Political Science Chair Jacob T. Levy raises the possibility that these protest put-downs are actually more about the view of a suburb as a private community, right down to the perceived “private” streets that are maintained by public money.

Which makes sense. See also the majority of Homeowners Associations who treat their development like a small autocratic dictatorship. But just like how an HOA president can’t override things like local leash laws, this is protected speech no matter what residents think.

There is, of course, the worry about political blowback, which is a reasonable concern. The thing is, no matter what happens, there will be attempts to demonize protestors. People today tend to think of the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, D.C., as a very peaceful event, but conservative media was hyperfocused on pushing the idea that it was full of violence. The Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 have acquired this false reputation that it was mostly violent, they were in fact mostly peaceful. Even a well-thought out and peaceful incident of protest, Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling during the National Anthem, turned him into a pariah who was de facto banned from the National Football League.

Despite all the hand-wringing about what liberal protestors *might* do to hurt Democratic midterm chances, the opposite is true for the right. Actual violent protests by conservatives like January 6 and the anti-COVID protests in 2020 (remember them?) seem to do relatively little to hurt Republicans politically. The violence of January 6 traumatized a nation for about a week or two before it became dim in our national memory, and as polls have shown, despite open support for insurrectionists, 1/6 is not hurting the Republican Party one bit.

The American people are about to get a reminder. Public hearings for January 6 are slated for June, and it is impossible to predict how that will affect the midterms. Maybe the attack on Roe plus the public testimony will shake more Americans awake as to what is at stake and get them motivated to vote.

It is one thing to rightfully decry incidents where protestors grow violent. It’s quite another to have so many rules about what is the correct way to protest, it makes people wonder if you don’t just want people to shut the hell up.

The last word goes to Amanda Shires and Jason Isbell, who wrote this song about abortion that had a lot of folks up in arms because country music people aren’t allowed to think like this, dammit!: