Q&O on Dissent: The Highest Form of Patriotism
I almost don't want to write about this since it comes perilously close to being a defense of a utter jacka-- and I have better things to think about. Let's get this out of the way first: the guy being arrested as an immature prick who was out to attract a spotlight by stepping on other people's toes. I have a soft spot for harmless troublemakers, but this guy is just crass, and worse, he's boring. This was not gleeful mayhem, it was just petty provocation.
But look, even the Illinois Nazis get to have their parade, and they get their police protection. Dale Franks rightly points out that these cops weren't Democratic henchman looking to stifle speech, they were just taking the path of least resistance. It's easier to arrest the guy and get him out of the way than have to worry about what happens when someone in the crowd takes a swing at him. However, doing something because it's the easiest way out is hardly a resounding defense. They aren't doing what's right, they're doing what's easy. That's what 99% of cops do; that's what 99% of people do. Everyone try and remember that if someone you happen to agree with gets dragged away at the next demonstration.
A memo to the Obama supporters there: It never looks good to cheer when your political opponents get arrested. I'm not saying I would have kept a perfectly cool head in the moment, but hollering and chanting the name of Fearless Leader while the opposition gets handcuffed is very creepy. There are marginal voters who will get tired of that really quickly and you're going to want them to still have the warm fuzzies for your guy in 24.
This is behavior (both by the crowd and the obnoxious shirt guy) that is more suited to callow and drunken sports fans than to citizens of an esteemed republic. I think this is what happens when you use politics to express your identity rather than to select policies you think are beneficial. Pretty soon you end up with voters who have more in common with drunken Eagles fans throwing batteries at Santa Claus than they do with Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus or Lucius Junius Brutus.
* Subject line. For the legal eagles out there: I don't really give a snake's tit if that was actually prior restraint. Neither did Walter Sobchak. Roll with it.