I think Timothy McVeigh's actions were not an entirely unreasonable reaction to Ruby Ridge and Waco.

Did they wear hoods? Did they run from the cops? Did they deny their involvement when questioned?

Where does that end? They outlined a method to effect positive social change against the tyranny of the majority. They built in safeguards to prevent it being used as a rationalization for evil. This is true for anything developed by people: safe abortion techniques were developed by doctors looking to save the lives of women–but it was utterly predictable that those techniques could be used in abortions. Does that make them culpable for the sins of abortion doctors?

So property damage is the big line for you. Why do you feel like property damage crosses a line and sets a precedent but trespassing does not? Cannot the McVeighs of the world take their inspiration from sit-ins and marches as easily as they can take their inspiration from statue-topplers? If they do, is the moral weight borne by the tresspassers different than that of the statue-topplers?

McVeigh mustn’t adopt my rules. Of course, he mustn’t adopt your rules about following all laws except that he’s allowed to break trespassing laws, either. What makes you think I, or Manda Jo, believe we’re able to force people to adopt our rules?

This is what’s so weird about your position to me.

I thought your line was “no breaking the law.” Now it seems to be something else: “no illegally destroying property.” If you allow non-property damage lawlessness, what’s to stop Timothy McVeigh from bombing a federal building?

In other words, you and I are both okay with some lawlessness in support of social justice. I draw the line between property damage and personal violence*. You draw the line between trespass and property damage. Why is it my line, not yours, that opens the floodgates to terrorism, in your view?

Wait a minute. By saying you support trespass and peaceable acceptance of arrest as justified in a wide variety of circumstances, aren’t you saying, according to your logic, that this would result in the"very predictable outcome" that someone would wave your name “as license to commit crimes but then evade the part where they willingly accept consequences”?

Sure. And hey, since screw social norms, let’s burn down the abortion clinic, because abortion is an even greater evil that an inanimate object.


Cool! Now we can blame Bricker for everything bad in the world.
Just kidding. We all know it’s really the Freemasons.

I think there’s a subtle distinction I’m making: when I say I support it, I probably should have chosen a different word, since “support,” carries a connotation of approval I did not really intend.

The very predictable outcome should be vitiated by the fact that I’m not supporting avoidance of criminal sanctions. Perhaps “understand,”’ is a better word.

But I’m kind of weaseling here, because I guess there are examples I can picture when I’d literally support the decision to go to jail to protest an unjust law.

Which makes me different in degree, not in kind, from the same thing I’m decrying.


OK, I’m building a house on the sand here. Until I think of some principled distinction, I concede the point, and withdraw my argument.


Appreciate that, and welcome to the sandbox.

Once the country accepts nuking countries, everything is a difference of degree rather than kind.

I think, respectfully, that your argument has more problems than that. I agree that as good citizens we should try to obey all laws as part of the social contract that we have by living in a civilization.

However, many people fall short of that. Many people do not have a problem with speeding 5mph over the limit or giving their 17 year old a small glass of wine at Christmas dinner.

I don’t think it is fair to say to someone that once they have accepted minor forms of lawbreaking, then that person is not morally superior to someone who commits wanton acts of genocide. There is a malum in se v. malum prohibitum standard in law.

And even with regard to malum is se property crimes, reasonable people as a rule see the gradations. If I am upset with you and dump a cup of coffee on your car windshield, that is orders of magnitude smaller than blowing it up.

People like Rosa Parks and the people sitting in at the Greensboro lunch counters were willing to pay the fine and go to jail to violate the law. Importantly, their violations did not take lives and their reputations were placed in the open subject to the judgement of history.

I don’t believe that people who destroy Confederate monuments will or should be held in such high esteem in the future. However, if they do so, are willing to face the legal consequences, and place their reputation on the altar of history, then more power to them. I don’t condone it, but it is nowhere near killing hundreds of people by a truck bomb.

What if the same number of people were killed, but they were specific government agents who had decision making powers in the government massacres that McVeigh was protesting? Admittedly this wouldn’t be very feasible, but maybe McVeigh wasn’t alone but had 100 friends, and they all went and killed a couple of named individuals each.

And for the most part, the victims were these agents, but these commando friends do kill police and bystanders who get in the way of their escape. They do not surrender to the law.

Of course it is not acceptable. Not to kill the government agents or the innocent bystanders. Extra-judicial killing marks a breakdown in the rule of law and tends to anarchy.

Has any mass murderer/bomber/shooter etc. ever said that she/he justified their actions by pointing out others who protested non-violently, or toppled a racist statue(or any other much less violent crime) and said, “If they can break the law, then I can break the law! It’s no different!” Show me the chain that starts at a toppled statue and leads to a mass-murdering bomber.

What a surprise, you’re equating pulling down a statue to arson. Because, arson so rarely kills people unintentionally, or spreads beyond the targeted property.

But, hey, I’ll play along. If you hate women that much, go ahead and burn down the abortion clinic.

There was actually a fairly decent and interesting discussion going on. No need for this.

After further reviewing the other thread, I am leaning more towards Bricker’s point. The sentiment on tearing down Silent Sam in that thread seemed to be: We’ve tried democracy for long enough and the statue is still there, therefore it is acceptable to tear it down.

That type of thinking is dangerous. Democracy is not a thing where we only abide by it so long as our side wins in a few election cycles. It is accepting some things even though we might lose long term. Being second class citizens for all time is different than looking at a monument in a park.

In any event, a monument in a park is far less intrusive than a federal government using tanks on your religious compound. Any doctrine that says “We’re gonna tear shit up” is dangerous to democracy.

It’s civil disobedience, just like the many forms of civil disobedience during the Civil Rights movement – and it didn’t hurt anyone at all (unlike David Khoresh, if that’s the comparison). Many protesters are willing to break the law – and crucially, face the consequences – in response to perceived injustice. If the worst thing it does is damage property that was erected to show defiance against civil rights, then I have trouble criticizing it at all.

Who did David Khoresh maliciously hurt to your certain knowledge?

However, even today when all people are allowed to vote, the Legislature has passed a law saying that these monuments may not be removed without permission from the state. Indeed, localities are required to replace them within 90 days.

So, although, I take no position in this thread with regard to your categorization of these monuments, it is still a direct attack on full democracy (unlike the civil rights laws where blacks were systematically denied the right to vote).

Let’s say I think that women falsely claim domestic violence too much. Can I tear down the sign in front of the women’s shelter? Is that objectively on par with tearing down these statues? Remember, the correctness of our views doesn’t matter because there will always be two sides to every debate and if we are taking the law into our own hands, it means that the other side has won the debate.

So what is the limiting principle to the destroying property argument? We can agree: nobody gets hurt (even though as Bricker noted, that’s pretty artificial, but let’s go with it). Any amount of property at issue? Can you torch the whole park instead of just tearing down the monument?