Tuesday, April 16, 2024


     With the U. S. Supreme Court set to take up the question of just how actively obstructionist a person needs to be before the behavior rises to something that counts as "obstructing an official proceeding,"* I was reminded yet again of my longtime friend, a lifetime moderate Democrat, who was horrified when one of his family members and their spouse were arrested for actions in the Capitol on 6 January 2021.  "I don't know how they got so brainwashed," he told me.

     The answer is that they didn't.  Nobody put them under psychological or physical duress and worked on their opinions.  No one deliberately "love bombed" them, whisking them away from their established connections in a sea of overwhelming positivity.  From rioters to graffiti-scrawling kids, from crowds shouting down their foes to people trying to break heads or break into government buildings, from Right to Left and back again, all of these individuals have agency.  Nobody brainwashed them.  They did it to themselves.  They freely chose their opinions -- and they freely chose violence.

     Violence carries a price, both personal and societal.  Participation in violence will mark you -- yes, even if you're the perpetrator.  And perpetrating violence quite often begets official violence in return.  Maybe you won't get shot by a cop, or bopped over the head (or painful joint) or pepper-sprayed or proned out with force; you're still likely to experience arrest, jail, criminal charges and a fine and/or prison time.  And those things will happen as the end result of choices you have made.

     That's the way it is for grown-ups.  You don't get to blame the other kids.  You don't even get to blame whatever handy-dandy group label you've picked, no matter how good their graphic artist might be.  You did it, not your T-shirt or sleeve patch.  You did it, not your Great Leader or Big Idea or long, painful history.

     I'd love to tell you that bad choices are the result of broken homes, cheap hooch and bad companions, but that fact is that little J. Random Citizen is still in charge of their own actions.
* Someone else can try reading those tea leaves; I gave up relying on the sober legal scholarship of the Justices outweighing their partisan and/or personal interests at some time over the last couple of years, and boy, do I ever miss that confidence.

1 comment:

Cop Car said...

Dang! Individual responsibility? Who are you?