Saturday night, a self-proclaimed “flash mob” of Michael Brown protesters disrupted a performance of the St. Louis Symphony. They stood up, unfurled signs and started singing as the orchestra was about to perform Brahms’ Requiem. This is what it looked like:
The demonstrators got, I thought, a surprisingly polite–and even, from some concert-goers and members of the orchestra, warm–reception. In my opinion, this kind of thing is not to be encouraged, even apart from the dubious merits of this particular case. (The demonstrators kept singing “Justice for Michael Brown,” but what that means, exactly, remains unclear.) The First Amendment right to assemble peaceably applies to public spaces, and does not extend to venues where other people have paid to enjoy a performance.
Some years ago, it was common for animal rights protesters to accost middle-aged ladies who were wearing fur coats on the street. That seems to have died out, but at the time, I said that I would respect the animal rights people a lot more if they went to a biker bar and told the bikers they didn’t like their leather jackets. That, of course, was a risk they never took.
Likewise with the St. Louis Symphony. The protesters chose a genteel venue where the demographics dictated a mild response to their demonstration. They were smart enough not to try the same thing at, say, a St. Louis Cardinals game.
The main significance of this episode is that it shows that the race hustlers intend to keep stirring the Ferguson pot indefinitely.