Friday, February 17, 2017

Run Over Those Damn Protesters!

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard about the new laws being considered in Tennessee and North Dakota. The bills would protect folks who "accidentally" run over protesters who are blocking traffic.

According to reporting by Steven Nelson at, "The bill offered by a pair of Republicans would apply only to instances in which drivers are 'exercising due care' when they strike someone 'participating in a protest or demonstration' that is 'blocking traffic in a public right-of-way.” A similar bill has been offered in North Dakota to address the oil pipeline protesters in that state. Nelson (same source) reported that the sponsor of the bill, Republican Rep. Keith Kempenich, explained:  "There’s a line between protesting and terrorism, and what we’re dealing with was terrorism out there,"

The thinking among supporters of this legislation seems to go something like this:  "In our country, protesters have been running all over wanting to denounce President Trump’s executive orders. In doing so they’re disrupting the flow of everyday life and blocking traffic..." -- The same source goes on to say:  "Too many people are scared to get in their car and drive in a protester-filled area in order to get to their job place or get somewhere in time without being caught up in the chaos. It is only right that if someone wants to hurt them, that they should at least have a fair choice to return the favor in some manner." And concludes with:  "Share this article to spread the word that more and more states are getting tired of the protesters and want to do something about it. This bill is most likely to be accepted and turned into a law. Protesters will learn to control themselves, whether it is the easy or the hard way."

I hope that my Republican friends will explain to me how someone's right to unfettered access to the roadways trumps someone else's right to life? Doesn't our Declaration of Independence underscore "life" as one of our fundamental rights - one that we derive from Almighty God? What about free speech and the right to peaceably assemble (U.S. Constitution)? Don't those guarantees cover protesting?

I agree with the premise that we are forced to draw lines when the exercise of my rights start interfering with you exercising yours. But haven't we traditionally handled that through laws and courts? It is illegal to block roads and damage cars. What's wrong with arresting protesters who violate those laws? Haven't those who have participated in the tradition of civil disobedience always realized that arrest and imprisonment was part of the risk involved in engaging in that behavior? Didn't many of the Civil Rights protesters of the 60's spend time in jails? And, now, we're going to run over people because we don't want to hear what they have to say or allow them to inconvenience us in any way?

I don't know about you, but that sounds downright un-American to me! Before we go down this road (violence), perhaps Republicans and conservatives should remember that a good many Democrats and liberals own cars and have the ability to step on the gas pedal. Before we talk about another civil war, maybe conservatives should remember that there are a good many liberals who own guns and know how to use them! Do we really want to go there? And, just for the record, the last time we had a Civil War in this country - the liberals won!


  1. Maybe this is the same issue as whether it is alright for a property owner to protect his property, from a thief, by the use injurious force. Does the right to life have paramountcy over property rights in that case? Frederic Bastiat presented an eloquent argument that the right to life is meaningless without the right to property.

    You did say that the proposed exemption "would apply only to instances in which drivers are 'exercising due care'" and it seems to me that this is a broad phrase.

    1. Sorry, sounds like a bit of a stretch to me. The invasion of your home (your personal refuge from the storm) is equivalent to someone getting in your way on a public thoroughfare? I would better understand your point if the protester damaged or invaded your vehicle.

  2. Replies
    1. Exactly! We DON'T want to go down this road...