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.
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.
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.
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?
Anyone can make any argument they like and advocate for removing any monument they like. And I’ll evaluate each one on the merits. The law is different – the law will treat these incidents as they relate to the law. But I’m not the law, and I’m perfectly within my rights to have an opinion on these incidents that varies depending on the particulars, and that doesn’t necessarily match the ruling of law. And so are you or anyone else, including anyone who wants to tear down signs and monuments for women’s rights.
And this wouldn’t change one iota even if I disapproved of all monument removals. My opinion is immaterial for the larger issue. If people are angry enough, they might decide to remove monuments without waiting on legal action. This will always be true, no matter what you or I believe or advocate for. If you want to disapprove of all such actions, feel free, but I’d rather judge each case on their own merits.
I’m not criticizing your right (or others’) right to criticize. I’m not disagreeing with you, or anyone else’s right to disagree. And I don’t think you would do the opposite.
What I am saying is that democracy and the rule of law provides a process to decide what happens short of destroying shit and certainly short of killing people: representative elections and peoples voices in the Legislature. It’s the alternative to fisticuffs.
It’s the whole foundation of government. We can kill each other over our differences or form societies which makes most of us generally happy most of the time. Part of that is acquiescing in defeat. Majority rules doesn’t work if the minority starts a war.