Whenever a man is made to act without his own free, personal, individual, voluntary consent—his right has been violated. – Ayn Rand
While I generally try to not write immediately as things get me worked up, tonight I am making a bit of an exception. Just a few minutes ago a post appeared in my timeline showing an image of what is claimed to be thousands of #BlackLivesMatter protesters essentially shutting down Mall of America, the nation’s largest mall, on the busiest shopping day of the year. Many, although not all, of the comments were in support of the protest, there are more than 20,000 likes to the post. Mine read as follows:
People are free to protest all they want, but the moment they violate the rights of others, property rights in this case, they should be fined or in jail, depending on the degree to which they have violated those rights. You cannot fight for the rights of some or yourself, by violating the rights of others.
This quickly drew a response:
Are you serious?? Where in the Constitution or Bill of Rights does it protect the right to SHOP?
My response was:
If you had read my comment clearly, you would have seen I specified that property rights, those of the mall and shop owners in this case, are being violated by the protesters. And even beyond these rights, all the shoppers have the right to liberty, i.e., the freedom to go about their lives as they see fit, which is certainly being violated here as well. As I said before, you cannot fight for the rights of some, which these protesters are trying to do, by violating the rights of others, which these protesters are certainly doing.
If by some stretch you don’t believe in property rights, I am assuming everyone believes in the right to liberty, can we assume that you would be alright if thousands decided to protest through your living room while you are celebrating Christmas? Perhaps bearing signs reading, “Sorry to disrupt your holiday, but we are trying to change the world!”
While many tend to forget it, or choose to ignore it, spaces such as The Mall of America are just as much private property as your living room.
While I sympathize with those who are protesting what they perceive as an injustice – although I think that the Garner and Brown cases are essentially different with only their race connecting them – violating the rights of others is not the way to go about it. If you want to live in a society where the individual rights of everyone are protected equally, and I hope this is a goal we all share, you have to respect those rights even as you protest when they are violated. To do otherwise will lead to greater and greater violations of rights, likely far beyond the scope and scale of the original violation.
If you want an example of the ultimate result of failing to do so you only need to look at the situation unfolding in New York City where a black man has apparently ambushed and killed two police officers before committing suicide. According to news reports, a post from the supposed killer on Instagram had a photo of a hand gun with the caption reading,
“I’m Putting Wings on Pigs Today. They Take 1 Of Ours…Let’s Take 2 of Theirs. This May Be My Final Post.”
As Ayn Rand wrote, and I paraphrased at the start:
No one’s rights can be secured by the violation of the rights of others.