Plain Ol’ Discourtesy

I wrote five years ago now about the ‘wrong way to protest‘, positing that while people are free to protest against the war in Iraq (or anything else, for that matter) they should be aware that there are limitations to that right, and that—even when protesting in a legal way—being rude or discourteous is unlikely to win anybody to your side. In 2003, I gave the example of protests in the D.C. area that block roads and turn our commutes into an even bigger nightmare than they already are. Those protests failed on both the legal and the courteous scales, simultaneously resulting in the arrest of the protesters and angering (i.e., not convincing) the very audience they were trying to send a message to. People, for the most part, simply tune-out rudeness.

An article in the Washington Post yesterday reminded me of just how rude and discourteous protesters can be when voicing opposition to the war in Iraq. This time, protesters interrupted the annual July 4 naturalization ceremony held at Monticello (Thomas Jefferson’s home) in Charlottesville, VA—which was presided over by President George W. Bush (R)—with anti-war catch phrases and a refrain of “impeach Bush”.

Personally, I find these kinds of protests a little meaningless to begin with. I still see no legal basis for an impeachment (once again, even if I were to accept that Bush lied in the lead-up to the war in Iraq, lying to the people might be immoral but it is not illegal and is, thus, not impeachable). Further, I continue to support both the war in Iraq and support many of the President’s initiatives to protect our national security. Having said that, I strongly support the freedom of speech and peoples’ right to protest these things if they disagree with them. I’d simply prefer that they show a modicum of courtesy and intelligence when doing so.

Interrupting a naturalization ceremony, where [legal] immigrants become U.S. citizens, is downright tacky no matter what you’re interrupting it with. Yeah, congrats, you got your zingers in against the president. You also interfered with a solemn ceremony welcoming new citizens from around the world and made yourselves look like whiny children. That may well be legal, but you didn’t accomplish anything—except possibly to discredit yourselves in the eyes of impartial viewers.

Scott Bradford is a writer and technologist who has been putting his opinions online since 1995. He believes in three inviolable human rights: life, liberty, and property. He is a Catholic Christian who worships the trinitarian God described in the Nicene Creed. Scott is a husband, nerd, pet lover, and AMC/Jeep enthusiast with a B.S. degree in public administration from George Mason University.