— Will 🧐 (@wtyandell) June 13, 2020
A couple of events in recent days illustrate the tension occasionally produced by the Bill of Rights.
Consider: Black Lives Matter. The marches for racial equity in Little Rock have attracted an assortment of attendees, including some suspected of being unsympathetic to the cause of racial justice. Or at least more sympathetic to the 2nd Amendment, as embodied in the view that you may carry military-style weapons openly just about anywhere.
A photo from Will Yandell over the weekend (above) illustrates one of the people who have arrived at BLM rallies with weapons. He was cordial, Yandell reports. Several BLM demonstration leaders have decided that being armed is a prudent course for them, too, as a Yandell photo illustrates at top.
The open display of tactical weapons makes some people nervous. Just because you can do something, should you?
And here’s another can-and-should situation: Below is a video assembled by blogger Russ Racop about his latest run-in with Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey, who’s tried unsuccessfully to have Racop arrested for “harassing” him. Racop has papered the chief with FOI requests and uncovered unflattering episodes in the chief’s past and present (debts in Oklahoma, use of deadly force against a shoplifter as a cop in Texas 25 years ago, friendship with someone seeking a top job in the police department.)
Racop cursed the chief — “fuck you,” he said — before the start of a Civil Service Commission meeting concerning an officer Racop had complained about. Humphrey tried to silence him, calling in one of his security officers, though both finally sat down after a belligerent exchange.
The law of the 8th Circuit is clear, as Racop told the chief. You may curse a police officer. Police may not silence a curser, arrest him for cursing or tell him how to behave in a meeting in which the chief is merely a participant.
Of course, it is bad form to gratuitously curse anyone, particularly in a public setting. It does no service to the journalism that Racop claims to be practicing.
But if the First Amendment says Nazis can march in Skokie, it also says Racop can be needlessly rude. The First Amendment protects devil and angel. The downside for avenging “angels” is that they might encourage sympathy for the devil. Humphrey’s judgment is best illustrated by allowing it to speak for itself.