News & Politics

Dear Protesters and/or Rioters: Get Out of the Damn Road

AP Photo/John Minchillo

This one’s pretty personal and sincere, everybody. Feel free to skip it if you’re not in the mood for that.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen several instances of “peaceful protesters” (AKA rioters) testing the laws of physics by using their fragile human bodies to challenge moving motor vehicles. The vehicles always win, because that’s how reality works.

Here are some examples. If you don’t want to see people getting hit by cars, don’t click on them.

I don’t know why some people think it’s a good idea to do this. Okay, so you hate the police. That’s your right. This is America, and you can hate anybody you want. But your hatred and anger isn’t some kind of mystical force field. Your belief that you’re right isn’t going to stop a moving car. The matchup isn’t David vs. Goliath, it’s Bug vs. Windshield.

This is personal to me because I know what it’s like to get hit by a car. It happened to me 10 years ago. I was crossing a street, with the Walk signal and inside the crosswalk, when a driver made an illegal left turn into the intersection and hit me. (This was in Washington, D.C., and the vehicle was a State Department security SUV, which is a whole other story.) It shattered my knee and I needed two surgeries and 18 months of physical therapy before I could walk unaided again. I still deal with the injury every day. Every time I take a step with my left leg, I’m reminded of it. I know what happens when a moving vehicle meets a human body, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I wouldn’t even wish it on Brian Stelter.

So please believe me when I say that I do not want to see people doing this. Not that I sympathize with them. I don’t, because they’re too stupid to get out of the way of a moving vehicle. Their disregard for their own physical safety just bewilders me. No matter what internet clout or #woke points they get for becoming a martyr to Black Lives Matter, it’s not worth a trip to the hospital or the morgue.

If you go up against a car and survive, you’ll get some sympathy for a while. Then you’ll have to live with the pain, long after everybody else stops caring. Maybe for the rest of your life. You won’t have solved anything, and everybody else will move on while you’re trapped in the prison of your own body.

And what about the people in these cars? What are they supposed to do? Picture it: You’re in your car, and you’re surrounded by an angry mob. They’re pounding on the windows. Maybe they’ve broken the windows. You supposed to just let them drag you out and beat you? What if you’ve got your family in the car? You should just surrender them to the mob, when you’ve got a gas pedal right there?

This is especially true if you saw what happened to Reginald Denny:

The late great Bill Hicks had the solution to this problem:

If an angry mob tries to stop your car, they can’t feign innocence when you protect your own life. They’re not victims.

Watching society break down is no fun, but some small part of me still believes we can come back from the brink. I hope so. This isn’t about the cops shooting somebody. It’s not about a virus. It’s not about a president you don’t like, or a Supreme Court seat that somehow you think belongs to you, or any of the other excuses you want to make. This is about a society willfully unraveling itself. And once it starts to unravel, once the things you took for granted start to go away, you’re going to miss them. As imperfect and infuriating and unfair as this world is, you will miss it.