The Morality of Demonstrations?

 Posted by on 8 June 2007 at 1:42 pm  Uncategorized
Jun 082007

Here’s a Question for NoodleFood on demonstrations from Michael, sent to me a few weeks ago:

Last week in Los Angeles “immigration activists” staged a demonstration / riot that resulted in (retaliatory) force being used by the police.

I can make the argument that the demonstrators used force and violence to further their agenda because in the past they have achieved little traction with a rational discussion of their goals. Blocking streets, taking over parks and inevitably occupying adjacent private property was not “freedom of assembly”; freedom of assembly is renting a hall or meeting on private property with the consent of the owner. Freedom of assembly does not entail violating the rights of others in parks, streets, etc. like the MacArthur Park demonstration did.

Most (probably all) marches and demonstrations I have read about in the news in the past 20 years in the U.S. have been about issues the marchers have not been able to win in the debate of ideas. Immigration activists argue for all the wrong reasons and are therefore wrong.

But the civil rights marches of the 1960′s seem justified because the South was not a free society and people like MLK did win the war of rational ideas but that had no effect on the southern political establishment.

Was the violence of the 1960′s civil rights marches a negation of reason or a righteous demand for civil rights when reason was ignored? When are demonstrations morally justified under an Objectivist morality?

I’ve got a few thoughts on this matter, but I think I’ll just open the floor for comments.

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