The Moral Monday protesters want to barge into the legislature whenever and however they want. But they themselves insist on conducting their meetings the way they want, with special treatment for their leaders.
The rallies are well scripted and carefully organized. An emcee, even NAACP head William Barber at times, will gently move speakers on and off the stage, remind everyone of the schedules, and generally move things along.
This of course is implicit in “the right to assemble.” A meeting of any group has to be orderly for it to function. That includes the Moral Monday rallies, your local garden club, and the North Carolina General Assembly.
And leaders of a group have a right to some special treatment just to do their assigned roles. Take Moral Monday, as last night. The group erected a tent to shield the speakers and leaders from the intense afternoon sun.
That was quite appropriate. It was hot out there. Speakers burn up a lot of energy. Having to endure the direct blast of that heat would have kept them from properly fulfilling their tasks.
Take the Rev. Barber. Because on Mondays he drapes himself in clerical robes, he’d be too heavily insulated. He pours out an immense amount of anger and hostility; I doubt it would have been possible for him to do so if he had been forced to stand out unprotected in the heat while speaker after speaker droned on before he had time to take the mic.
Of course, the same thing holds true for our elected leaders, including state lawmakers: They need some special treatment just to perform their assignments. Anyone who’s watched even a few minutes of the legislature in session sees how difficult and cumbersome crafting laws with 170 people is. They need to be able to have some order just to do their jobs.
By trying to run the session without a mob running into their offices and chambers, lawmakers are not flouting the people’s will, they are trying to do the people’s will.
Also, these are state legislators. All year round people can give their senators and representatives their views, and they do, sometimes at the grocery store or the post office or just walking down the street. And of course in a few months the voters will be able to convey their opinions to the legislators in a very definitive way at the ballot box. Everyone has plenty of ways to express their views to their lawmakers; there’s no need for anyone to shout and scream as the legislature tries to do its job.
That underlines why the Monday protesters’ demands are unjust: The protesters are trying to rob legislators of the order and rules that the Monday rallies and every other gathering needs.