And sure, it’s true that every Black Lives Matter protest makes people nervous about a violent outburst, and that leftist newspapers and even prominent leaders in the black religious community have accused them of inciting violence. It’s also true that members of the black community have spoken out publicly against them, accusing them of inciting more violence and calling them “righteous murderers.” Oh, wait — sorry, I got my notes mixed up. Turns out all that stuff was actually true of the Civil Rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King. Gosh, this is so embarrassing. I should really learn how to use my backspace key.
Anyway, here’s something I feel like not enough people are saying: Regardless of whether or not you agree with #BlackLivesMatter, we’re not these protesters’ fucking moms. It’s not our job to make sure they’re polite. Social change and protest is messy, in part because it’s exposing a mess. They’re pulling up a rug that hides a lot of dust and dirt and blood and muck and other things we’d rather continue to pretend isn’t there. But that doesn’t mean we get to sit in our overstuffed chairs with our feet up on the coffee table saying, “Oh, no no no, you’re pulling the rug back all wrong. You have to lift and tug and — oh, Christ, just stop. Just stop. Don’t even bother pulling the rug back if you’re going to do it that way. No equal rights for you until you learn some manners, young lady.”
J.F. Sargent on free speech.