Peaceful Protest and Civil Dialog
Today is the day for (U.S.) nationwide demonstrations for equality (see Join the Impact).
A number of our friends here in Outer Blogness have been covering the protests live, such as John R. at the Irvine protest, and many others I gathered up last Sunday in Outer Blogness. Chino has gathered up some more coverage here.
The right of peaceful assembly is a key component of free speech and civil political dialog in an open society. Every single site I’ve read where protests are actually being organized has actively made it clear that this is about peaceful free speech. However, we’re having a bit of a communication disconnect with some of the faithful LDS bloggers who claim that the protests have been violent or are characterized by threats of violence or property damage towards Mormons (see here and here).
My instinct is to see this as another tactic to shut down civil discourse: to mischaracterize the protests as not being civil dialog so that Mormons won’t have to feel bad about refusing to respond to them with civil dialog. One thing I learned in my (admittedly meager) experience with protests in grad school is that you have to keep an eye out for people who pretend to be part of your movement and say insane and inflammatory things in order to allow others to discredit your movement.
However, I may be wrong. If there have been any real threats of violence against Mormons, we need to loudly condemn them. It is a very serious matter. We’re no terrorists — marriage equality is a movement centered around peace and love, and let’s keep it that way. So if you’re marching for equality today, remember to be careful, be respectful, and above all: peace.