Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, Writer, Possessed by Cats

Tag: protest

Where’s the line?

I have a confession to make. Real life isn’t the only reason why my blogging fell off dramatically the last few months. Since the election, I’ve been hard pressed not to blog about politics. It isn’t that I don’t want to talk about my take on issues. Those of you who have followed my blog for any length of time know I will wade in from time to time. No, the problem is that there are those on both sides of the political equation who simply refuse to actually read and consider what anyone says. They have taken the stand that if you don’t agree with me, you are wrong (or evil).

I am not a Trump fan. I admit that right off the bat. However, I also didn’t support Clinton. My reasons don’t matter beyond one. I didn’t think either of them would be good for the country. There were better candidates out there. Unfortunately, this election left us with a candidate for the Democrats who won the nomination thanks to manipulation from the DNC to make sure her opponent, Sanders, did not get the nomination. (I’m not sure he would have but I resent the hell out of the manipulation of the system.) Then we had Trump who no one thought would win the nomination and, when he did, did the second thing no one expected — he won the election.

No, I’m not going to debate the results. Yes, Clinton won the popular vote. By how much? Who knows. I say that because, in the few states where recounts were held, her numbers went down. I will also remind everyone that the US is not a democracy, not in the true definition of one. The founding fathers put the electoral college into place and, until that changes through constitutional amendment, it is the law.

And, for those who say we need to change it, I will remind you how that can come back and bite you in the ass. Don’t believe me? Look at how the republicans have been using the nuclear option so far with regard to Trump’s cabinet picks. That little “tool” didn’t exist until the Obama administration and was put into place to prevent the republicans from blocking things he wanted done. Now, the republicans are playing tit-for-tat. That is what happens when you start messing with rules just because you don’t like them.

After the election, many of those who had supported Clinton took to social media to tell us we needed to keep our opinions to ourselves and let them voice their concerns. They were afraid of what the president-elect might do. A teacher friend of mine, very liberal, worried that his gay students would be rounded up and either put into camps or deported. Those who entered the country illegally worried that they would be rounded up and forcibly returned to their countries of origin. Through it all, those who did not agree with their fears were told to shut up and let them voice their fears because, well, feelz.

On the flip-side, you had those who supported Trump and who felt like a double-standard was being applied by those who were mourning the fact Clinton hadn’t won the election. They pointed out, and rightly so sometimes, that the left hadn’t shown the same understanding to those who hadn’t wanted Obama to be elected as they were now demanding from those who voted for Trump. They reminded the Clinton supporters that those opposed to Obama had been called racists and told they were traitors for not wanting him as their president.

The proverbial line has been drawn in the sand and where all this leads I don’t know. I will admit I am worried.

The left wants to be allowed to say and do whatever they want. They don’t want to hear people who they feel marginalize their opinions or who promote “hate speech”. Death threats and violence have been used to shut down speakers like Milo. People are being jumped and beaten for simply wearing hats that proclaim “Make America Great”. Lady Gaga is attacked on social media for not politicizing her Super Bowl halftime show.

All I can say is grow the fuck up.

When you use violence to try to silence anyone’s voice, you are not upholding the values upon which this country was founded. When you publicly proclaim that it is your right to destroy private — and public — property to stop someone from voicing his opinion just because it doesn’t match yours, you are in the wrong. Then, when you cry that the laws against such destruction are being applied to you, you simply prove that you want to have a double-standard with you at the top of the “rights” hill.

I am not a Trump fan. Never have been. But, damn it, you guys need to listen to all of us when we tell you to stop making us defend him.

Where is the outrage when some Hollywood type — and, sorry, I don’t remember who it was other than some female comedian or the like — proclaims that all we need is to get the military and then overthrow Trump? Where is the outrage when people take to social media and start saying that the president — and, like him or not but he is your president — needs to be killed?

I would have a lot more respect for those screeching about how evil Trump is, or how evil Milo is, if the liberals would at least try to apply the same standards to both sides of the political spectrum. It amazes me that they don’t see the irony of promoting violent protests against Mile — a gay man who is not American.

Look, I get that Trump is a loose cannon. I wish someone close to him would take his phone and not let him have it back until his Twitter account was silenced. I get that it’s hard to figure what he’s going to do next because we have no public record (at least no public political record) to use as a road map. I get that all his rhetoric and bluster can be scary. Believe me, I get it.

But the way to combat it isn’t by telling half the country to shut up, that their opinions don’t matter or, worse, are evil. The way to combat it isn’t by trying to stop the free exchange of differing opinions. The way to combat it isn’t by destroying someone else’s property. They way to stop it isn’t by taking to social media and acting like self-important, privileged whiny brats.

And, before someone says that the Trump supporters are just as bad, stop. I haven’t seen them out setting fire to cars or braking business windows and looting. I haven’t seen them leaving so much trash at protest sites that the cost to clean up will run into the tens of thousands of dollars or more.

Most of all, if you are protesting, don’t start shouting you are a professor and think that gives you the right to do or say whatever you want. I promise all that will happen is you will likely find yourself at least cited for breaking some ordinance and that some enterprising person will do a google-search on you and find out you like to do lobster porn (and no, I am so not linking to that) or worse.

So, to both sides, grow the fuck up and quit making me defend Trump.

Every voice should be heard. . .

American flag. . . but that doesn’t mean action has to be taken each and every time.

A couple of posts caught my eye this morning. The first is out of Amherst, Massachusetts. Hampshire College, a Liberal Arts college boasting an enrollment of approximately  1,400 students found itself making national news. No, it isn’t because of the quality of the education it gives its students. It is over flying — or, in this case, not flying — the American flag.

It began the day after the election when some of the students decided to fly the flag at half-staff and university leadership sided with them. On the eve of Veteran’s Day, someone burned the flag. The next day, November 11th, officials replaced the flag and flew it at full-staff. As the mother of a member of the U. S. military and as someone who comes from a family that has a long history of serving the country, that is enough to raise my ire. You simply do not disrespect those who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for this country so those who decide it’s a good thing to burn the flag are free to do so (assuming they are smart enough not to destroy private property in the process).

It wasn’t until the next day that the college decided to lower the flag to half-staff. Apparently the administration wanted to “continue” discussing what the flag means.

What? Give me a fucking break.

But it gets better.

Monday, November 18th, saw a Facebook post from the university announcing that it would no longer fly ANY flags. Oh, students could still fly flags but the university would not. No institution flag, no state flag and no US flag.

John Courtmanche, spokesman for the college, gave CNN the following statement:

Our goal is to give voice to the range of viewpoints on campus across cultures, and hopefully find common ground. . .We’ve heard from members of our community that, for them and for many in our country, the flag is a powerful symbol of fear they’ve felt all their lives because they grew up as people of color, never feeling safe. For others, it’s a symbol of their highest aspirations for the country.

Without going into whether or not the fears are real for those who spoke out against the flag, I have more than a few questions for the university. First, who many actually voiced this concern and for how long? Why allow the flag to fly at half-mast the morning after the election and then show disrespect to the veterans and their families by flying it at full-mast just a few days alter?

Second, if this is a long-standing concern on the campus, why didn’t this “discussion” about what the flag stands for take place before now? What sorts of discussions are taking place now and who is handling them?

Third, when are we going to demand our education system, both public and private, educate our kids to the fact that they aren’t always going to get their way? That the world is an harsh place where you won’t always feel safe? When will we teach them that the rights you want — such as, the right to protest something you don’t like — apply equally to the other side?

Moving on, after word spread through the college’s community about what happened, “at least 1,000 veterans” gathered to protest the removal of the flag. This was after hundreds had gathered at the college earlier in the week to protest the actions of the administration. My real question to the administration is why give in to the feelings of some without taking into consideration the feelings of others? What thought process went into their decision?

My guess, none. They decided to go with those who voiced fear instead of taking affirmative steps to address the issue, starting with determining if there really was a problem on campus or not.

The next bit that caught my eye is the coverage — and some reactions — to the death of Fidel Castro. It amazes me how the MSM has folks on the ground in Havana, busy trying to interview the “man on the street”. All we are hearing from them is how wonderful life was under Castro, how great a leader he was, etc., etc., etc. Over the weekend, right after the news broke, an ABC correspondent went so far as to give his personal glowing endorsement of the dictator. Why? Because parts of Havana had been rebuilt over the years.

No mention was made of the treatment of most of the citizens there. No mention was made of the Human Rights violations the Castro regime was guilty of.

Now he is being painted as a revolutionary who, believe it or not — and I saw this on another author’s FB page — was a hero for saving Cuba from American imperialism.

Oh. My. Fucking. Ghu.

First off, the interviews with the Cubans in Havana remind me of some of the conversations I had with people living behind the Iron Curtain during the 1980’s. They were still under the boot heel of the Soviet Union. No way were they going to say anything negative in public about the government for fear it would get back to the powers that be. Freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, etc., were foreign to them. A distant memory for those countries that found themselves under Soviet “leadership” following World War II. For those in the USSR, most could not even imagine what those freedoms might be.

There is a reason why so many men and women risked their lives and the lives of their families to flee Cuba. These weren’t the rich under Batista. No, many of those who tried to cross to the US in leaky boats or rafts were poor to middle class. They wanted a better life for themselves and their families. They wanted a life where there weren’t government paid informants on every street, those given money and food and more to spy on their friends and family.

Was Castro worse than Batista? In many ways, yes. In others, probably not. But he was not a hero to be admired. He was a dictator. Damn it, all you have to do is look at the architecture and compare it to that of the Soviet Union. Look at how often you see images of Castro on the sides of buildings and statues erected of him. Now look at the US, at Great Britain or most any other country where there are elections and basic human freedoms like speech and assembly. Big difference, right?

It amazes me the number of people who are climbing onto the “Praise Castro” bandwagon, writers and entertainers who don’t understand that they would be silenced under his regime unless they wrote was was approved by the state. Grow the fuck up, folks. Look beyond the rhetoric to the reality. I have a feeling if you do, you won’t like what you see.

No, it wasn’t martial law

Like many who live in the DFW area, yesterday was one of those days when you wondered if it might not be a good time to be somewhere else. No, not because of the heat. Not because traffic sucked eggs because of all the construction around the area. It seems The Donald was in town. After a week of hearing the comedy of errors that was his advance team’s attempt to find a venue — and why they waited so late to do so, I’ll never understand — a location was found, announced and then the calls for protests to be had were made.

Now, Dallas isn’t a stranger to politics or to protests but we’ve all see the images coming from the protests against his candidacy in other areas around the country. So if a lot of us waited to see what happened and hoped it didn’t result in another political black eye — or worse — for Dallas, I’m sure you understand. After all, Dallas is still living down the the stigma of being the city where JFK was assassinated more than 50 years ago.

I will start by giving it to the Dallas Police Department for a bit of mental gamesmanship it played before Trump’s arrival. It held a training exercise, not at the police academy or somewhere inaccessible by the public or the media. Far from it, in fact. It held the exercise in a parking lot at the State Fairgrounds. It didn’t take long for the media to learn there was a large police presence there and to go see what was going on. It reported at length, some stations put more airtime in on it than others, about how the DPD trained, including with tear gas, for any problems that might arise during Trump’s visit. Of course, DPD leadership tried to downplay it as a regular training session that allowed some of the officers to get needed certifications but most of us recognized it for what it was — a warning that the police were ready for whatever might happen.

Fastforward to last night. Protesters and supporters alike braved the Texas heat. Signs supporting and vilifying Trump could be seen. And so could the DPD. At least one local station also made it known that there were a number of plainclothes officers mingling with the crowd in order to head off trouble before it happened.

As you can tell by the dearth of coverage on the national morning news programs today, nothing really did happen. The last stats I saw showed that 7 people were asked to leave the area and there was 1 arrest. Apparently one photographer was hit by a rock at some point during the evening. But that was it.

Unless you talk to the protesters. Oh, to hear them wail and gnash their teeth about how evil the DPD officers were. They — gasp — formed human chains to keep disparate groups apart. When members of one group — the anti-Trumpers — started pushing at the Trump supporters walking through the crowd, DPD officers rushed in and separated them. When it looked like things might be boiling to a point where it could get nasty, DPD brought in the mounted patrol. Funny, the protesters didn’t like seeing the officers on their horses pacing shoulder to shoulder toward them.

One protester was upset because the police formed their human chains and separated the groups. Another complained about his group of protesters being pushed back up onto the sidewalks, calling it “martial law”.  Why? Because the police didn’t let them continue to clog a street or disrupt those trying to leave the event. Evil police for keeping the peace.

So this is me giving kudos to the DPD for not overreacting and for keeping the peace. I will also give kudos to some of our community leaders for keeping calm heads and helping keep the problems to a minimum. I am not a Trump fan but I am less of a fan of those who cause damage and injury to others under the flag of “Trump is evil”. So well done to DPD and to Dallas. I expected things to be a lot worse than they really were.

Think before you act or face the consequences

I have been fighting a battle with myself the last couple of days. Part of me wanted to write about what happened in Ferguson, the grand jury decision and the reaction to it. Another part of me told me to wait. Emotions are still running so high about what happened and too few — on both sides of the issue — are taking a moment to step back, breathe deep and actually consider what happened. Now that we have a grand jury determination that they were going to no-bill Officer Wilson for the death of Michael Brown, we can at least look at the evidence the prosecutor presented. However, that’s not what I’m going to talk about today (even though there are glaring holes in what they did see, holes a good prosecutor as well as a good defense attorney could have used at trial to bolster their cases.)

What I am going to talk about is the response here in the DFW area last night. I will admit right now that Dallas has had more than its fair share of questionable police shootings over the last few years. But I have to give it to DPD for doing what it can to prevent repeat performances. It hasn’t always been a quick response nor has it always been the one the community wanted. However, compared with what DPD used to be like, the response and filing of charges against officers has been much better.

And that brings us to the events of last night. If there has ever been a situation in the last few years when the DPD could have overreacted, last night was it. What started as a peaceful protest over the Ferguson grand jury decision, as well as police shootings here in the area, quickly escalated. The protest grew from a few hundred to more than a thousand by several reports I’ve seen this morning. The protesters went from the area around City Hall through parts of downtown and then purposefully spilling onto I-35. We’re not talking a few people nor are we talking about a low traffic roadway.

I-35 basically bisects part of downtown. It is a major thoroughfare and it is rare when it is not heavily traveled. Last night was no exception. I can only imagine what the drivers thought when they were suddenly brought to a standstill when hundreds of people poured onto the roadway, blocking it in both directions.

They didn’t walk out and form a chain across the road, preventing cars from moving forward. The video I’ve seen shows them moving between the cars, shouting and yelling. They stopped traffic and continued to harass the drivers. Yes, harass. Even if they weren’t shouting at the drivers themselves or rocking their cars, they were harassing them by preventing them from getting home or getting to work to to pick up their kids or whatever they were trying to do.

This went on for more than a few minutes. DPD responded and, as they had earlier with the protest, they basically stood by and did nothing. After a bit, they tried talking to the protesters in an attempt to get them to clear the roadway. By then, the majority of the protesters already had. However, a couple of hundred — maybe less — remained on one side of the road, continuing to block traffic.

What they did was illegal. It could have been life-threatening if an ambulance or other emergency vehicles had been caught up in the traffic. Or if one of the drivers had felt threatened enough to pull a gun to defend himself. But that didn’t matter to these folks. They had a captive audience and, by God, they were going to use it.

By the time everything was said and done, it was after 10 PM and the police finally had to move in and take action. Eight people were arrested for impeding traffic.

So many things could have gone wrong last night with the protest that didn’t. As frustrated as I am that the protesters had no problem violating the rights of others — ironic since they were protesting rights violations — I have to give it to everyone involved and especially to DPD because nothing went wrong. No one overreacted and no one, to the best of my knowledge, was injured. One reason why this was, ultimately, a peaceful assembly was because the police did not overreact. Even when they responded en masse to the situation on I-35, they came in with what appeared to be a sense of needing to keep things under control without escalating it. I didn’t see one riot shield in the videos played locally and no shouting back and forth between protesters and police. There may have been some. I just didn’t see it.

So I give kudos to everyone involved — except for shutting down the highway — for how they behaved.

However, I do not approve of shutting down a major freeway like they did. I’ll admit that I would have liked to see the cops take a bit more action to open the roadway up sooner than they did. But I wasn’t there and I don’t know what orders they were operating under.

Now contrast that to some of the other so-called protests that have happened across the country. Protests that have resulted in damage to private property and injury to protesters or bystanders. There is no excuse for that. The message gets lost in the anger and frustration that follows such actions.

Was the grand jury right in no-billing the officer? I don’t know. My gut tells me it was but I also know how grand juries can be manipulated by a good prosecutor. Should a special prosecutor have been appointed to look into what happened? In my opinion, yes. Ferguson is a smallish town and it would have been easy enough to find a special prosecutor and give at least the air of fairness to the process. A lot of ruffled feathers could have been smoothed with that one simple action.

Were there procedural problems with the investigation? From what I’ve seen, most definitely. But none of them prove the officer lied. What they show is a department that tried its best but one that isn’t as big or as sophisticated as DPD or NYPD or may others.

Most of all, unlike some folks who I’ve seen calling for an automatic presumption that any cop who pulls his gun and kills someone is guilty of murder, I still believe in the presumption of innocence. Should a cop be held to a higher standard? Absolutely. But we should not hold him to a standard that is so high that he basically has to sacrifice his life and not defend himself or he has to wait for someone else to be hurt or killed — and it must be done in his presence — before he can clear his holster.

Ask yourselves this: if you were in the same situation as the officer — as described by him and as accepted by the grand jury — what would a reasonable man have done? I don’t know about you, but I have a feeling I’d have done the exact same thing. If someone grabs my gun and I fear they are going to try to use it on me, I will defend myself. I will defend my loved ones.

That said, if there is reasonable evidence to show the cop lied, well, he ought to feel the full force of the law.

The grand jury said there was not enough evidence to indict.

Like it or not, that is what members of the Ferguson community, black and white alike, male and female, decided. Until we know better, we have to accept it. Yes, if you feel the need to protest, do so. But do so within the bounds of the law. Otherwise, don’t yell and scream and cry about finding yourselves on the receiving end of a citation or a trip to jail. Freedom of speech and assembly doesn’t mean you do say whatever you want wherever you want.

And ask yourselves this, those of you who had no problem breaking the law last night — be it in Dallas or elsewhere — how would you have felt if the roles had been reversed and you had been the one stuck in traffic for several hours or if it had been your business burned down?

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