Protesters Disrupt Christmas Tree Lighting In Seattle [Updated With Observations on Informal Sanctions]

In Seattle, a crowd gathered to watch the lighting of a Christmas tree. A group of children ages seven to 10 were on stage, preparing to sing. But a group of “Ferguson” protesters showed up and commandeered the stage, leaving most of the children in tears. The story was told on Twitter:

This is known technically as a non sequitur.

Here are the (mostly white) protesters, doing their stupid “hands up” gesture, which has nothing at all to do with the facts of the Mike Brown case:


These people adopt a pose of moral superiority, but in reality they’re just jerks. They should be hung good and tight around the necks of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and any other politicians who have endorsed their activities, more or less explicitly.

UPDATE: A couple of commenters have asked why some of the kids’ fathers didn’t politely escort the protesters off the stage. I wondered about that too. Thinking about where I grew up in South Dakota, it is hard to picture this sort of thing happening. But if it did, I am pretty sure that the assembled crowd would not have waited for policemen to arrive, but would have taken prompt action to eliminate the disturbance. We aren’t talking violence here, just an exercise of will and moral authority.

This reminds me of one of the most controversial posts I ever wrote. It was some years ago, when the Westboro a**holes were harassing random military funerals with anti-gay demonstrations. I said that the thing I didn’t understand was, all military funerals are attended by a considerable number of able-bodied young men. If, on a couple of occasions, a few of those guys ambled over to where the protesters congregated, borrowed a sign from one of them and broke it over his head, the demonstrations would have faded away rapidly. Many people applauded that suggestion, including, interestingly, a number of liberals. But others were horrified. The only solution to patently obnoxious behavior, those people argued, was years of constitutional litigation.

It’s a sign of the times, I guess. We have pretty much forfeited all informal sanctions, so that there is no middle ground between nothing–acquiescence in unacceptable behavior–and a felony prosecution which will never happen anyway. This is a new and radical situation. Throughout history, informal constraints have been the first and principal line of defense against anti-social behavior. If someone spoke rudely to a woman, for example, he was likely to get slugged. That is as it should be. Again, we aren’t talking about R-rated violence, just the sharply manifested disapprobation of the community.

To take just one example: a few years ago, my family was in New York during the late fall or early winter and we were walking down 5th Avenue when we encountered a group of anti-fur protesters. As is happened, my wife was wearing a fur-trimmed coat, and one of the sign-waving demonstrators approached her aggressively and obnoxiously. My son and I had to explain to him politely that he would do well to stay very far away from my wife.

One of our biggest problems, in my opinion, is that nowadays, those informal sanctions are almost entirely gone. The best we can do is call for a constable, who hardly ever comes; and if he does, he can’t do anything as effective as the old sanctions in any event. Not every episode of unacceptable behavior can be the subject of a felony prosecution or three or four years of taxpayer-funded, and probably futile, litigation.

That is a big topic for another day, but yesterday’s infuriating display by leftists in Seattle brings it to mind.

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