You may remember last year with all the “Occupy” protests an incident at UC Davis where a UCPD officer pepper-sprayed a line of student protesters blocking a walkway, arms linked. They had refused orders to move. The other option I suppose would have been to forcefully separate and arrest them, and the officer in charge decided to disperse them with pepper spray instead.
This caused great outrage, regarded as abusive treatment of the protesters. But why? You don’t need to block a sidewalk- which people going about their daily business need to use- to protest Wall Street corruption. And yet all the leftist commenters agreed this was unacceptable.
Some “investigative” reports have been issued. Now Conors Friedersdorf, faux-conservative lite at the Atlantic, weighs in, with the theory that there was no law preventing the students from being there.
There is no law preventing students from being in a quad, but there is certainly one that prevents them from blocking the sidewalk. It all comes down to what the law is and who has to obey it. One of the “investigators”, Cruz Reynoso, has a particulary sinister history. He was voted off the California Supreme Court in 1986 with Rose Bird and Joseph Grodin for refusing to enforce the death penalty. In one notable case, the victim had been stabbed 40 times, but the penalty was overturned because it had not been proved the perpetrator intended to kill the victim.
Why, if there is a clear law, is it not obeyed? The genius of Hammurabi was to have the law “written in stone”, quite literally, and displayed publicly, so everyone new what it was, it was not arbitrary and could not be circumvented. And yet today, the law is quite flexible and applies or doesn’t as the people in power see fit.
Again we can find and answer in Protestant theology. In the revolt against the Roman Catholic Church, it was decided righteousness couldn’t depend on behavior. It was instead dependent on the faith of the believer, by Luther, or God’s sovereign choice, by Calvin. If this was the case, did believers need to follow the numerous laws of the Bible?
Some said no, that belief in Christ and the subsequent blessing put the believer above the law, and that all his actions and decisions would be good and correct. People of course tend to think their own level of adherence to the law is correct; they then labeled those with a more lax view “antinomians”, or “those without law”. Here’s a quote from the Wikipedia article that sums it up-
“As early as 1525, Johannes Agricola, in his commentary on Luke, advanced his idea that the law was a futile attempt of God to work the restoration of mankind. He maintained that while non-Christians were still held to the Mosaic law, Christians were entirely free from it, being under the gospel alone. He viewed sin as a malady or impurity rather than an offense rendering the sinner guilty and damnable before God. Instead, the sinner was the subject of God’s pity rather than of his wrath. To Agricola, the purpose of repentance was to abstain from evil rather than the contrition of a guilty conscience. The law had no role in repentance, which came about after one came to faith and was caused by the knowledge of the love of God alone.”
Two key points- one, most important for this matter, is that the believer is above the law. Two, sin is a disease, but that is for another day.
Not only do all the leftist commenters think that leftist protesters are above the law, their pseudo-conservative toady Friedersdorf does too. Essentially, we have a two-tier society. Leftist politicians, government officials, educators, and other activists are of the true religion. There actions are blessed. The law is something for them to use against others. It is a sword and a shield for them.
Personally I believe in reciprocity. If you don’t have to obey the law, and use it as a weapon against me, I don’t have to obey the law and may use it as a weapon against you.