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Proper Government Would End ‘Occupy Wall Street’

When it comes to protecting individual rights and property, we actually need more government.

by
Walter Hudson

Bio

November 7, 2011 - 12:47 am

"They can afford new windows." - overheard at Occupy Oakland in reaction to the vandalism of Whole Foods.

Tea Partiers are used to being called anti-government. When we stood opposed to President Obama’s state-run healthcare law, we were labeled “anti-government.” When we called upon Congress to risk a 2011 shut down in pursuit of real budget cuts, we were marked “anti-government.” When we refused to raise the debt ceiling without systematic fixes to the budget process, we were branded “anti-government.” Even now, as we stand in contrast to the genuine anarchists and violent revolutionaries rallying under the militaristic term “occupy,” it is we who remain “anti-government.”

Try this on for size. In some respects, we need more government. Public servants nationwide must assert their rightful authority to end Occupy Wall Street.

You read correctly. Spare us any hubbub about the constitutional freedoms of speech, assembly, or association. Occupy Wall Street rests upon none of them. In fact, the increasingly debauched and openly violent protest movement stands in opposition to the First Amendment and every freedom it protects.

Individual Occupiers almost escape blame. They are the inevitable byproduct of the ongoing degradation of critical thought. As a culture, we have long conflated the notions of civil disobedience, vandalism, and trespass with the right to petition government for a redress of grievances. Somehow, the freedom of speech became the promise of an audience. The freedom of assembly became an entitlement to a venue. And freedom of association became license to wreck businesses, stop traffic, and assault anyone who gets in the way.

Examples are now so prolific that the point is beyond argument. “Occupy” is the right word, conveying the precise intent, to employ force in pursuit of political change. These are terrorists.

Yet, there is a fundamental point regarding how the movement got here which requires looking at a relatively peaceful protest to demonstrate. The small number of protesters occupying the Hennepin County Government Center plaza in Minneapolis have been kind enough to refrain from rape. Nevertheless, security and management of their presence has cost the county more than $150,000. Ungrateful and unsatisfied, Occupiers at a meeting of the county board last week demanded provisions to keep them warm at night. Guess how the claim was justified? Freedom of speech.

Indeed, why shouldn’t Occupiers feel entitled to blankets and heaters? The county has already provided a canopy to keep them dry among other indulgence at taxpayer expense. In so doing, Hennepin County joins the likes of New York City and Oakland, California,  in affirming the Occupiers’ claim to entitlement.

As a result, the little bit of backbone the county has shown runs up against the claim they helped validate.

Hennepin County officials said [last week] that they will begin winterizing the plaza between the county building and Minneapolis City Hall… They said protesters will have to consolidate their possessions and can’t leave them unattended anymore or they’ll be taken.

The number of portable toilets is being cut from seven to three, and starting [last] Friday, no more signs will be allowed.

“We think that it’s a violation of our rights to free speech and free assembly,” said Nick Espinosa, one of the protest organizers. “You don’t put a curfew on the right to assemble, and that’s what they are trying to do on the plaza.”

The kid might have a point if he or any of his comrades owned the plaza. As it stands, they have no inherent right to do anything on property which is not theirs, especially at an expense which they do not incur. Of course, understanding that would require recognition of property rights and respect for their fellow citizens. Those are qualities sorely lacking.

A few days ago, seven protestors were arrested for blocking an intersection in downtown Minneapolis. Espinosa sees this as but one tool to help accomplish goals. He said that rallies, protests and marches haven’t produced results so they will try a number of approaches.

Espinosa has participated in a number of high profile [assault] protests including [throwing] a bag of pennies [at] gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer and [throwing] glitter [at] Newt Gingrich and [at] the Marcus Bachmann clinic.

Understand? This is the same attitude that was enthusiastically advocated by The Nation’s Johann Hari in a piece written during the union protests in Wisconsin earlier this year. In it, Hari pined for a “progressive Tea Party” which would model itself after a group of thugs in Britain called UK Uncut. Note how Hari’s quoted language previews Espinosa’s.

British liberals and left-wingers have been holding marches and protests for years and been roundly ignored. So why did UK Uncut suddenly gain such traction? Alex Higgins, another protester, explains, “It’s because we broke the frame that people expect protest to be confined to. Suddenly, protesters were somewhere they weren’t supposed to be—they were not in the predictable place where they are tolerated and regarded as harmless by the authorities. If UK Uncut had just consisted of a march on Whitehall [where government departments are located], where we listened to a few speakers and went home, nobody would have heard of it. But this time we went somewhere unanticipated. We disrupted something they really value: trade…

The tactic here is plain as day, and comes with a notable confession. Armed with nothing but their incoherent message in a marketplace of ideas, these occupying types are pretty much worthless. They admit it. Thus ignored and desperate for attention, they encroach where they have no right, and otherwise break the law.

Government’s sole job is to protect individual rights by upholding the law. Why then has the lawlessness of Occupy Wall Street been tolerated?  The mayhem chronicled by our friends at BigGovernment would not have manifest but for the tolerance of smaller encroachments beforehand. Tolerating that first minor offense invites greater ones until all control is lost.

Part of the problem is a flawed (and unfortunately prolific) view of public property. This is not limited to Occupiers. There is a wing of libertarianism which regards public property as some kind of free parking space on the Monopoly board of life, a lawless neutral zone where anybody who ever paid a tax has a God-given right to sleep, eat, or defecate.

Earlier this year, a libertarian personality named Adam Kokesh (who makes his living by provoking police to arrest him on tape so viewers can catch a sympathy rush online) sought out trouble at the Jefferson Memorial after a court ruling which banned dancing on the premises. Kokesh came, danced, and got arrested as planned.

The entire episode was ridiculous. Sure, perhaps the rule banning dancing was silly. However, the entire pretext for outrage was the fact that the Jefferson Memorial is public property, as if that means anyone can show up and do whatever they want at any time without consequence. Try that argument at your nearest military base and let us know how it works out.

Public property is not “everyone’s” in the sense that we may each individually treat it as our own. This should be apparent early in life. It should sink in the first time you run alongside a municipal pool. Nevertheless, some among libertarians and just about every yahoo on the Left seems to read “public property” as “personal privy.”

Be that as it may, the larger issue among Occupiers is a philosophical rejection of property rights as such. This is clearly derived from their own list of demands, their goal of wealth redistribution, and their disregard for any boundary. It is the rightful role of government to rein in such criminals, to enforce the law, and to keep the peace.

The notion of passive resistance as “non-violence” assumes an inherent right to be where you are. But trespass upon property, public or private, is a violence all its own. Refusal to obey the law, disregard for the rights of neighbors, and refusal to mind fences is indicative of menace. Proper government would end it posthaste.

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Check out Walter Hudson’s previous Tea Party writings:

Tea Party Taboo: Tackling Social Issues Our Idiot Brother: The Tea Party’s Relationship to Occupy Wall Street

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Walter Hudson advocates for individual rights, serving on the boards of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Minnesota, Minnesota Majority and the Minority Liberty Alliance. He maintains a blog and daily podcast entitled Fightin Words and co-hosts the weekly podcast Liberty Tree Radio. He also contributes to True North, a hub of conservative Minnesotan commentary, and regularly appears on the Twin Cities News Talk Weekend Roundtable on KTCN AM 1130. Follow his work via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
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