Throughout the saga of so-called “Moral Mondays,” protest organizers and media talking-heads drew frequent comparisons to the civil rights movement. William Barber, the protest ringleader, often invoked the term “civil disobedience” to describe the actions of protesters. But Barber seems to be conveniently forgetting a crucial part of civil disobedience: consequences.
Three of the most famous advocates of civil disobedience were Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But all three of those great men insisted that civil disobedience should come with penalties. Thoreau went to jail for not paying taxes that he believed would fund an unjust war in Mexico. He was furious at his friends when they bailed him out, because he thought they had undermined his actions. Gandhi never tried to flee British authorities: in fact, he openly defied their warnings and demanded the harshest possible punishment. And Dr. King perhaps best sums up the noble purpose of civil disobedience when he said:
In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.
King knew that true civil disobedience requires sanctions. Otherwise people could just break the law whenever they feel like it. This would necessarily undermine the rule of law and lead to anarchy. And yet William Barber and the other arrestees have done exactly that. Most of the 900 arrestees are pleading “not guilty” to trespassing – actively seeking to be acquitted for a crime that they did in fact commit. This is “civil disobedience lite,” a spurious tactic that undermines the very concept of civil disobedience, in addition to undermining the rule of law.
“Civil disobedience lite” has serious consequences for the people of Wake County. In trying to avoid sanctions, Barber has forced the Wake County District Attorney’s office to waste inordinate amounts of time and money. Police officers, bailiffs, court reporters, judges, and prosecutors will spend months tied up for frivolous trials – all because the protesters are unwilling to accept responsibility for what they did.
There is a word for this cynical tactic to keep media attention fixated on a budget that purportedly strains public resources, all by further straining those resources: Hypocrisy.
Actually, Rev. Dr. Barber and company are making a perfectly legitimate point when they say that they should never have been arrested for peaceably assembling to address their elected representatives.
Kent Misegades says
Melody, that is anarchy pure. I say that income tax is unfair, but if I refuse to pay it, I will be punished. Barber and his ilk broke the law, period. If we choose to excuse them, how can we hold any citizen to any law, for instance Obamacare, which is surely unconstitutional, yet for now at least it is deemed to be law by our elected representatives. When you start picking and choosing the laws you want to obey, you become an anarchist. This always ends is violence and chaos.
People assemble peacefully all the time. And they speak to their representatives too. They were not arrested for that. Worse, we had elected representatives obstructing and protesting their own legislative body. That is outrageous. I called out my Rep on it and she basically told me to go jump in a lake. Then she quit.
I still not sure what “laws” were broken.
They are pleading not guilty because they should have never been arrested. They are protesting in public spaces. They are civil rights heroes.
As for this fraud Barber to even call himself a reverend is blasphemous to say the least, and what ever church he is flocking must be a church from hell. he needs to get back to demonic pulpit and stop agitating our legislature. where was this guy when the democrats were in power with all there corruptible antics, now where to be found. what a big lying racist hypocrite this guy is.
On the first Monday, I asked the legislator (referenced in a previous comment) who joined the demonstration to explain to me what the demonstration was about. With a dismissive wave of her hand she replied, “Everything.” The next Monday I asked another demonstrator to help me understand the reason/s for their demonstration. He could not articulate a reason other than, “The 1% needs to be stopped.”
Even though the “protesters” were on public property, you can be ordered off of the property for cause. For example, if the facility is closed or restricted, or in this case if you have been specifically told to leave becuase you are creating a disturbance. At that point it becomes trespassing…..and thus they are guilty. It is not really hard if you actaully use thought and logic rather than partisan glasses.
I wonder what Rev Barber’s reaction would be if I and 250 of my freinds showed up at the next NAACP meeting, a public organiation which enjoys tax-exempt benefits, entered the meeting place and began shouting and waving signs, preventing the group from accomplishing anything? That’s exactly what his “Moral Monday” group did in the State Legislature chamber – not in the public spaces outside. Would he be OK with disruption or would he call the authorities and demand that my group be arrested? I wonder.
This is the least informed dribble that I have EVER read. It is simply stuffed with conclusory statements with no factual support whatsoever. If I were the author, I would be embarrassed for a number of reasons. The arrests and protest were planned, EXACTLY the way Rosa Parks’ protest and arrest were coordinated and planned. In fact, the SAME organization was involved in coordinating both events. The NAACP. Are you saying that the actions of Rosa Parks were “Civil disobedience lite” because she exercised her rights, had them violated, and then sought redress in Court? Sir. Please consider your words and provide and ACCURATE factual background when doing so. I have been at the trials for those arrested during “Moral Monday” protests. This gentleman clearly has not. Thus far, 1 person has been convicted, and 2 people had their charges dismissed. What does that say about the propriety of the arrests? Current arguments continue on 03DEC13. Show up. Why do we have a legal system if not to be objectively used to determine guilt? Innocent until proven guilty… Remember? These 900 people did not arrest themselves. The STATE chose to make these arrests. Thereby, they are required to adjudicate each case. If convicted, so be it. The individuals that met with ATTORNEYS BEFORE THE PROTEST, 100% accepted that they may be arrested for demonstrating their beliefs, as illustrated by the fact that they sought professional advice before hand. Please don’t disparage North Carolina citizens who are justly using their system to advocate for their rights. This is what are system is built on. Regardless of particularized views, this IS the SYSTEM we live in.
As to David’s comment about the protesters “enter[ing] the meeting place, [ ] shouting, and waving signs, preventing the group from accomplishing anything…” Again, at the actual trial (i.e., facts), Senator Kinnaird testified that the protesters COULD NOT be heard in the chamber and were in no way disrupting the legislature’s ability to conduct business. So, if 250 of you and your friends go to exercise your rights, consider the reality of what occurred BEFORE you irrationally act.
General Assembly police Chief Jeff Weaver testified: the march into the building did not concern him – protesters began chanting “fight, fight, fight” – “I saw two individuals raising their fists. I knew it was an emotional issue.”
The police chief explained that the dozen who were ultimately arrested were taken into custody because they refused to disperse when ordered to three times. Raleigh Police Department officers were called in to make the arrests, because Weaver’s staff is small.
From the N&O
YOU sound like an ignorant racist. If you ever take the time to introduce yourself to Rev. Barber (like an adult), you’ll see that he is not a racist and his flock is not from hell. Rather he is a man who is advocating for his rights, as he sees them, regardless of whether I or anyone else agrees with him. Isn’t that what America is all about? Phil, please remember that what you say on the internet is forever and never really anonymous. Shame on you for being against an American exercising his rights. The individuals arrested (including Rev. Barber) come from every color and walk of life. White, black, brown; Doctors, lawyers, teachers, grocers, and crossing guards, of every age. Please have some respect for others as you seek to exercise YOUR rights as an American (i.e., your 1st amendment right to make OFFENSIVE, racist statements).
Haha. Poor scared Weaver. Did you know that many of those arrested were over 50 and in many cases MUCH older? Weaver could barely keep a smile off of his face when he was making that claim in court. And after he swore on the Bible. Note that Weaver called in a total of 18 officers (to include Wake County Officers) to make a total of 17 arrests. No one attempt to resist. The words “fight, fight, fight” were used generically to represent the protest and were spoken in response to the question of “what are we going to do when they try to take away our rights?”. . . . In this case, fight = refuse to disperse and allow yourself to be arrested (i.e., non-violent, civil disobedience–regardless of what the misguided gentleman above calls it). Weaver knew this very well. So did his lap dog Officer Brock. If the arrestees were such a threat, why was there only ONE bailiff in the packed courtroom on the 25th? Because there is no threat from a group that prizes non-violent protest. The N&O reporter appeared late to the start of the trial. I’m assuming he missed the context of the words he published, as no self-respecting journalist would engage in biased reporting…
Whoa! How long did it take for the Lefty Troll to yell, “Racist!”?
Did anyone have the betting slip for 10:51? Racism is the 9 iron in the Lefty Golf bag. The use it for EVERYTHING. Nice try, Bolshevik.
I was quoting Phil Genius. Read above. Wow, great reference. Bolshevik. I remember 10th grade civics class too. Don’t confuse independent analysis and logic with an association one way or the other. Does your comment mean Phil is a Bolshevik? Where is my 10th grade social studies book? Oh yeah, Mike has it…
I have no problem with people protesting. I do have a problem when a very one sided political theater is presented as “pure as the wind driven snow” actions equivalent to civil rights protests of the past. “Moral Monday” doesn’t even come close. MM is a hissy fit over the results of the last election. I actually like MM because I think in the long term the theater is not fooling enough people and it will have the opposite results that MM desires. North Carolina is still moderate to conservative politically (at least not nearly as far left as some would have us believe) and the far-left and “progressives” are over playing their hand. The mid-terms in ’14 will be very interesting!
ATP, do you really believe former Senator Kinnaird, a Wisconsin transplant who was the most far left-leaning member of the Legislature, when she claimed the noisy protests of “Moral Monday” group couldn’t be heard in the Senate Chamber and didn’t affect thier work? SHE WAS PART OF THE PROTEST! What else would she say! Protests are something most of us support, but hijacking the Legislature is something no reasonable person should stand for. So please be a good little troll and go to back over to the Daily Kos. Your comments are out of place here.
David. Regardless of her personal political leanings, she testified under oath. Exactly like Officer Weaver. Are you insinuating that she lied? Did Weaver? Again, despite your childish name calling, I am pointing out that the Court is capable of determining truth, as that is its purpose. Use your brain. Calling names is a sure sign of mental weakness.
I’m an NC native and quite conservative. Some of these folks are just plain embarrassing us.