To far too many young leftists, “civil disobedience” is a get-out-of-jail-free card that should allow people to break the law so long as they are really, really, self-righteous about it. The idea of evoking sympathy through the moral power of passively enduring suffering for a just cause is foreign to many safe, middle-class, revolutionary wannabees who want a free lunch out of their rebellion as well as their government.Yes, the Wisconsin man who poured a beer on a legislator he didn't like enjoyed himself and basked in the love and encouragement he got from the other protesters. (And speaking of "free lunch," our Wisconsin protesters got lots of free pizza.)
My test for the defenders of the protesters is: Think through a reverse hypothetical. Make the protesters an exemplar of the ideology you oppose and the target a proponent of what you love. See my post yesterday about the Doubletree incident, in which I challenged someone who supported a pro-affirmative action protest: "Picture a press conference by a beloved advocate of civil rights stormed by a group of racist skinheads... Make all the actions exactly the same, but change the political viewpoints. Would you then use the words 'mob' and 'physically violent.'"
Those who cheered the beer-pourer need to picture a Tea Partier dumping a glass of beer on... You know, I'm too averse to violence to name a particular individual who is embodies the ideology of the left. I don't want to put the picture of an attack in anyone's head. That's why I wrote "a beloved advocate of civil rights" in my reverse-Doubletree hypothetical. To me, whatever the politics of the target, pouring a beer is physical violence. It's not cute. It's nothing to be celebrated.
It's not just that people lack an understanding of civil disobedience. They don't understand what principles are. In the previous post, I wrote about the French ban on covering your face in public and linked to a Metafilter thread. I just noticed that someone over there wrote:
Once again, I find myself not having sympathy for any parties involved. This French approach is simply antithetical to my American sensibilities. On the other hand, I just can't relate at all to these women, and I can see why French people don't like the niqab.I responded to that:
If you really care about freedom and equality, you should move beyond the question of what kind of people you can "relate" too. The test of your principles is whether you can apply them to people you don't even like at all, who are making what you think are bad choices.Is critical thinking a lost art?