When people riot they dissuade others from taking their side or seeing their reasoning. They cross a line into criminal behavior and it’s hard, if not impossible, to ever go back.
A few years ago something came up on the ballot that I did not vote for or against because I did not have a strong feeling for or against it. Voting just to vote and not knowing the issue or having a reason for voting is foolish. The item was voted down. When it came up on the ballot the next go-around, I again did not vote one way or the other. And again it failed. This time there were riots. People destroyed cars, set fire to buildings, destroyed businesses… all because they did not get their way.
The law abiding individuals who were in favor of it were very unhappy because it harmed their cause. How do I know? Because the next time it came up on the ballot, I voted against it just like so many others. Not because I thought it shouldn’t be passed but because I believe strongly that anyone who gets their way through rioting will only resort to such behavior again and again.
As we go forth in this year’s political process of deciding on a democrat and republican nominee, the people of our country can prove themselves as lawful citizens or criminals. As lawful citizens, they can cheer when their candidate wins, accept when he doesn’t, or even protest when he loses.
As criminals, they can riot. It doesn’t take much for some lawful citizens to cross the line and join hands with criminals, becoming criminals themselves. They justify that their rioting is actually protesting, that it’s for a good cause, that somehow it makes sense to destroy the property of others or even their lives.
Rioting is nothing more than a violent temper tantrum wherein the participants try to do as much damage as possible for the most ridiculous reasons. Let’s be clear…. there is no good reason to riot and a legal protest is completely different. It is a great way for people to make a reasonable point regarding a particular subject and it really can make a difference. A riot only shows that whatever you’re upset about is either not that important, you’re selfish because you don’t care who gets hurt in the process, or that you’re on the wrong side of whatever issue you’re fighting.
The problem with protesting is that there is a strong possibility that some of the people participating are actually there hoping to start a riot. In some cases they don’t even care about the issue. If whatever issue is being protested doesn’t go the way of the protesters, they will riot just for the ability to brag about rioting. The more intensely public the issue is, the more they want to riot. Sadly there are cases where people rioted and caused more damage to property or to other lives than the thing they were rioting against.
The other problem with protesting is that certain protestor organizers take advantage of others who do not understand the law. For example, they can picket on public sidewalks however it must be orderly and they must allow pedestrians to pass or enter buildings. They cannot march down the middle of the street without a permit. They must stay on the sidewalk and not block traffic. There are exceptions, as with anything, but most individuals don’t understand the law and if the organizer says it’s okay, they assume that person knows.
Many times gatherings are considered rallies rather than protests but it’s hard to be clear exactly when a rally becomes a protest or if they are indeed one in the same. A riot however is very distinctive and there is no doubt when a rally or protest becomes a riot.
Make no mistake in understanding the line between lawful citizen and criminal. Some will never cross the line and others are skirting it every day waiting for the justification to step over and do harm.