Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A little Civil Disobedience now and then can be a good thing.....

Social media has a way of bringing out the pitchforks and making demands before anyone's due process has occurred.  The recent detainment of a Loudoun County School member at a Trump rally has garnered some harsh commentary on social media and an unnecessary demand by the Loudoun County Republican Committee for Mrs. Maloney to resign. In my opinion, it is premature and pointless, and the stories about what was witnessed are contradictory and confusing.

Hundreds of politicians have been arrested through the years while attending protests of various kinds. Often, they are slapped on the wrists no different than the civilians who were also arrested. Some were arrested for disorderly conduct for sitting down and refusing to leave a roadway.  Others because they broke an ordinance.

I don't advocate anyone breaking any laws, rules, or regulations regarding protesting.  Believing in the first amendment, everyone should have a right to voice an opinion, regardless of that view.  On the whole, most protesters do just that. Frequently, it is miscommunication or misperception that causes problems. The right to protest is critical to our democracy.  Sometimes, though, our governments and law enforcement unintentionally aid in silencing this right.

What is misunderstood is that protesters who engage in civil disobedience are not protected under the First Amendment. A protestor does not have a right to block a building entrance or physically harass people. I don't believe she did either.

Mrs. Maloney gave an interview to Voice of America and in doing so the line moved forward. During her interview, Mrs. Maloney was measured in her answers, calm, and did not indicate in any way any intentions to be disruptive.  It seems she may have tried to get back in line, and because she was wearing a "Love Trumps Hate" sticker on her shirt, it may have created fodder for those who felt inclined not to offer her any courtesy to allow her back in line. It seems that her wearing that sticker was more than enough to exclude her and that is where the confusion begins.

I can't say I would have conducted myself in the same manner, and I understand the frustration of having stood in line for several hours to be treated with such indifference. Instead of removing herself, she may have sat down making a declaration of her place or that she felt she had a right to go in. Perhaps she was refused entrance and sat down in protest. That act alone can't be considered obstructing the line, though if you are so inclined to find a reason for dismissal it seems to be an easy one.  It may have been helpful though for Mrs. Maloney to understand the rules of engagement at a campaign rally. 

Campaign events are open to the general public and nondiscrimination laws apply in all public places. Campaigns can't exclude people based on race or religion but they can exclude protestors from rallies for various reasons.  When a campaign rents a space, they get the right to exclude people for "trespass" and they get law enforcement to facilitiate this.

Someone wearing an anti-Trump shirt, sticker, or sign can be considered interfering with the candidate's messaging. They control the political theater. Simply put, if the campaign tells law enforcement to keep anyone with anti-Trump type apparatus out or a specific directive, they can prevent those people from entering.  Mrs. Maloney had on a sticker that let it be known her feelings about Trump. If the campaign had declared no purple shirts, she could have been refused entrance. Unfortunately, there was likely no sign declaring their right to refuse entrance or the conditions for refusal and therein lies the confusion.  

What is truly disheartening is that both parties seem to obstruct distractors or non-supporters in an effort to project to the world they are well-liked and that the people are receptive to their message. By not exposing themselves to those who object to them, they can never fully engage and then represent the population as a whole.  

The resistatnce to compromise seems to stem from the principle of encouraging mistrust of opponents. Each seems to argue that they have a better platform or governing principle and sadly this is good for campaigning but not governing. Refusing compromise means we never adapt to our principles and respect our opponents. Simply put, it means we never get anything done.

I recall a time when Republican and Democratic politicians would willingly pass legislation for the greater good. Today, refusal to engage the other party lest they get any credit for progress means we have none at all. We are left with no legislation to address the problems of the day.  Our nation suffers when there is a Federal Government shut down when politicians resort to conditional threats to press their agendas.  We all loose in this type of government.

I empathize with Mrs. Maloney. I also understand that she was there as a citizen and not a school board member. No one got hurt. No major disruption occurred as a result. Had she been someone who I disagreed with politically or otherwise I would not demand her to be fired or recalled. After all, suffragists were arrested and beaten with impunity. If they had not done so, my right to vote may not exist.  

Dare to do things worthy of imprisonment if you mean to be of consequence. ~Juvenal 

Loudoun County Schools Regulations regarding the rental of school facilities:

§6-27 4. School authorities shall have access to any meeting or activity held in or on school facilities. 

§6-27 Use of School Facilities. School facilities may not be used by non-school groups if the use would interfere with any school activity or program.

  • Loudoun Times Mirror Article: While the timing was something the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and Fire Marshall were prepared for, Briar Woods apparently was not, as it had sports tryouts and other student activities scheduled. School Board member Eric DeKenipp (Catoctin District), a Trump supporter, credited incoming BWHS principal Chris O’Rourke for making the wise decision to cancel all activities for the day. DeKenipp also said he would push for the public schools to have a clearer notice policy for the scheduling of non-school events.
If I were a parent who had arranged my schedule for those school activities, I would be none to happy to see that school policy was not followed.  

A. Authorization and Responsibility School facilities, including buildings and grounds, are designed and constructed to support the educational programs of the school. Use of these facilities for school purposes shall have first priority. When not needed for school purposes, school facilities may be made available to community organizations for use in accordance with applicable policies and administrative regulations. 

I hope the LCPS collected their money in advance.  Trump is known to either not pay or try and negotiate a lesser fee. Wonder who will FOIA that payment? 

7.    Approximate fee charges for approved requests will appear on the returned request form. Regulation 6-29