A protest turning violent does not negate the point of the protest


If a protest turns violent (people being attacked, property destroyed etc) that doesn't "spoil" the protest. The protesters can still be in the right for protesting something even if people on their side are being hostile. If people on your side are being violent that doesn't make you wrong all of a sudden. If that were the case almost every political affiliation would be in the wrong.

I'm not arguing against peaceful protest, nor am I advocating for riots or violence. I'm just saying that the protesters message matters more than the point their means of getting that message across. For example if an anti-fascist protest happens and a protester punches someone. The protest isn't instantly evil, to claim that it is would be ignoring the whole point of the anti-fascist protest in the first place.

All I'm saying is if someone does something bad in a protest, that doesn't make the protest bad.


  • 🤔Changed Author's View
    2 years ago

    All I'm saying is if someone does something bad in a protest, that doesn't make the protest bad.

    I think you've chosen the wrong argument here. I think what you should say is that the reason for the protest might not be wrong just because it turns violent, as in the position or argument that the protestors are basing their protest on can stand regardless of the protest actions. That could be true.

    However, a protest is what happens at it. A protest that turns violent is, by definition, a bad protest. There is a difference behind the position of the protestors and the behaviour of the protestors. Bad behaviour doesn't mean a bad position, true, but the protest itself is the behaviour, not the position. You can hold the position with or without protesting. The behaviour is the protest and the protest is the behaviour.

    Being "in the right" or "in the wrong" is also multifaceted. If I tell you that 2+2=5 and you say, no, it's 4, and I disagree, so you punch me in the face, then you are factually correct in your information but morally wrong in your actions on how to convey that information.

    Beyond that academic discussion, there is a deeper issue though. Resorting to violence itself tends to come from a few main sources. People who resort to violence generally often can't win the argument on merits and get frustrated, so turn to violence because they truly believe something even if they can't demonstrate it to be true or articulate it. For example, the claims that Milo is a white supremacists, racist, sexist/misogynist, Islamophobic, or otherwise are baseless because there's both no evidence of any of that and there's plenty of evidence he isn't. But, he tends to vehemently criticize the "social justice" left, so they hate him and either tend to shout him down or turn to violence, since they can't win by debating on facts and reasoning. (I say this as somebody who disagrees with much of what Milo has to say in academic terms, but his critics are more wrong than he is.)

    Another related reason people turn to violence is they've fallen prey to ingroup/outgroup tribalism, which is perhaps best modeled by Realistic Conflict Theory and best demonstrated in the Robbers Cave Experiment (RCE).

    Essentially you can create hatred, vitriol, and violence between groups is two easy steps. Step 1 is to divide people into groups. That can be random as in the RCE, arbitrary such as the eye colour in Jane Elliott's classroom experiment, or essentially any differentiator: political leanings, favorite sports team, religion, nationality, accent, height, PC vs Mac, Android vs iOS, Coke vs Pepsi.

    Step 2 is to set the groups in conflict, either via a competition (rewards, punishment, social status, attention, special privileges, etc.) or sparked by group-based insults ("fascist right", "communist left", "criminal blacks", "privileged whites", "terrorist Muslims", etc.).

    That's it. Then buy some popcorn and watch it degrade into violence. In the RCE there were fistfights, sabotage, burning of other teams flag, and so on. In Jane Elliott's class, the different groups oppressed each other given the chance.

    In addition to the violence and hatred, the groups tend to create in-group social norms arbitrarily and out-group narratives, typically with "us" being saints and righteous and "them" being evil. Both sides tend to rationalize, including rationalizing violence because "they" are evil, and the ends justify the means. Facts be damned.

    In the U.S., this tribalist behaviour is clearly demonstrable in the massively partisan division. On top of that, you have the fringe voices becoming the justifications. On the fringe right you have the white supremacists who statistically represent a small rounding error of Trump supporters yet these are who the political left use to smear Trump supporters. On the fringe left you have the "social justice" activists and anarchists who represent only a fraction of the anti-Trump crowd (and/or Clinton supporters), yet this is who the political right use to smear anti-Trump supporters. (Milo is one of them too, who equate SJWs with liberals or anyone left of center, which is where he is very wrong of course.)

    It also happens that these are the two groups that instigate Steps 1 and 2 of Realistic Conflict Theory. The fringe bigots on the right group people by traits: skin colour/race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and so on. They put them in a competition in a hierarchy with the dominant/majority at the top and the marginalized minorities at the bottom, and suggest everybody must conform to the interests of people at the higher end of the hierarchy.

    The social justice left also group people by traits: skin colour/race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and so on. They put them in a competition in a hierarchy with the marginalized minorities at the top and the dominant/majority at the bottom (known as the progressive stack), and suggest everybody must conform to the interests of people at the higher end of the hierarchy. And, they refer to groups having "voices" and treat people based on their grouping. It tends to derive from a form of Marxism of flipping the powers as applied to minority status instead of by peasants vs industrialists.

    Voila, both of these fringe groups both contribute to creating hatred between groups. Both contribute to each others existence and power, and both pull the partisan politics to more extremes. And both are very, very wrong. Both commit the fallacy of division, assuming things that apply to the groups as a whole apply to individuals described by those groupings, and both commit the base rate fallacy. The fringe right confuse the fact that "most terrorists are Muslim" (true) with "most Muslims are terrorists" (not true). The fringe left confuse "most privileged people tend to be whites/males" (true) with "most whites/males tend to be privileged" (not true).

    The correct answer is for both fringes to stop treating people as being part of a group defined by traits, and instead treat people as individuals who have traits. Treat them by the content of the character (merit), and not the color of their skin (race). This is, in fact, what is written into human rights codes, that all individuals are equal to other individuals and have the right not to be judged based on such traits, except where the trait is the merit of interest itself. It is then violations of that rule that are bigotry, and that applies equally to all people of all races, sexes, gender identities, nationalities, ethnicities, and so on. It's the violation of the principle that matters, not the particular race or group that matters.

    So what does this have to do with violence and protests? Protests often turn violent when the protesters are themselves subject to tribalist tendencies; the "us vs them" mentality. This is why right-wing racists turn violent against racial groups and fringe left-wing groups, and why left-wing Marxists tend to turn violent against right-wing groups. It's also why liberals, libertarians, and moderate conservatives don't tend to turn violent, because they are based on common rules for all and equal freedom and equal rights for all, not group against group fighting for power.

    So, in that context, a protest turning violent is an indicator that the protestors are not doing so based on taking a reasoned position, but rather are being tribalist. It's not so much your example, "if an anti-fascist protest happens and a protestor punches someone", it's more that the "anti-fascist" protest is very likely wrong that the people they are protesting are fascist at all.

    • 🎤Author
      2 years ago

      I agree I used the wrong argument and since it is so easy to create violence at a protest a protest that doesn't use violence should be what we strive for.

  • 2 years ago

    Where ever Milo goes, protesters follow, and they are all the same. U of Berkley I'll use since it's relevant.

    They interfere in free speech, they block those trying to attend an assembly for free speech, etc. Some resort to violence.

    But, not all, you're right. But, who has denounced any of this? Obama and Hillary haven't denounced any violence, none of those that ran in the election for the DNC are. No one is.

    So, it starts to just look like the violence is merely part of the protest.

    And really, whether these are even protests or whether these are just violations of others rights is one thing to debate. I know I'd never stand there protesting someone else saying something because I'm basically protesting their right to speech, not what they are saying. If I fear what they are saying, I should rebuttal it. Holding a sign crying about it isn't much of a protest. It's crying and that seems to be what protesting is, these days, crying.

    I mean, I despise feminism, but I don't hold a sign saying "I hate feminism." No, I use words and arguments and facts to destroy it. That's a protest (unfortunately).

    Some people protest by doing stuff, like creating a product or creating a new process or simply not going along with a crowd. Holding a sign saying "This guys a Nazi" is definitely within someone's rights, definitely free speech, but whether it's a protest on anything but someones free speech while defaming their character and those who want to attend it (harassing them)? I don't classify protests when they violate others rights.

    So, if anything, violence isn't spoiling the protest, the subject matter and those protesting are the ones doing it with a huge dose of no one denouncing any of it (therefore indirectly supporting it). (yes some individuals denounce it, the big leaders are not).

    • 🎤Author
      2 years ago

      By disagreeing with somebody you're not infringing on their right of free speech. You're actually using yours. The right to protest is a major tenant of free speech both in the constitution and the ideal. Really nobody is harming Milo's free speech. He can write articles, he can make videos. And he can hold other meetings where, yes, he will get protesters, protesters that are using their free speech to tell him to shut up.

      And why is it up to the democrats to denounce the protests at Berkeley? It was mostly anarchists and communists stirring up trouble in the crowds.

  • 2 years ago

    No sadly it strenghtens it. You want for people to take you seriously? Stir the pot and raise some shit. If people remained civil, majority of people wouldnt hear of that homophobic moron. But now, now he will get some juicy attention.

    All I'm saying is if someone does something bad in a protest, that doesn't make the protest bad.

    It by definition is. Its the difference between free speech and vandalism/violence. Its like this. Your debate point becomes irrelevant, once you punch someone. Because its no longer about the debate, its about the assault. Protests turning violent discredits a lot of the movement immediately. Sure, he might be right. But nobody cares, because everybody focuses on the violence.

    • 🎤Author
      2 years ago

      Do you view the civil rights movement as a bad thing because of the riots that happened in its name?

    • 2 years ago

      No, because violence and vandalism is clearly effective. But that happened because civil right movement didnt have a platform to present their ideas. So they raised some shit and made themselves heard.

      Nowadays we have a platform for most ideas. And there should be more for ALL ideas. If you have a platform where you can present your views on intelectual basis. Violence becomes inexcusable. Because then it is just might makes right. And you can twist that any way you want.

      Violence is excusable only when you have no other option. Iam not talking turning violent after you have been heard and dismissed. Iam talking violence because your speech was supressed for example.

      There is however a point to be made that universities are trying to censor too much of what is going there, hence the violence you see now. But Iam still on the fence on that one.

  • 2 years ago

    If a protest turns violent (people being attacked, property destroyed etc) that doesn't "spoil" the protest. The protesters can still be in the right for protesting something even if people on their side are being hostile. If people on your side are being violent that doesn't make you wrong all of a sudden.

    Your cause can be noble, just and 'right'. But in our societies, we value peacefulness. When a portion of the protesters turn riotous, it doesn't make the protest's agenda any less right -- it just turns the attention to the violence rather than the agenda.
    People no longer talk about the agenda (which is what the protest aims to do), they're not all talking about the violence, damage to property, and general mayhem. In this way, it doesn't negate the point of the protest, but it certainly hurts the cause.

    edit: as for the rest of your comment, of course one person doing something stupid in a crowd doesn't make the whole crowd in the wrong. Nor does it delegitimize the agenda of the majority of the protesters.

    • 2 years ago

      A protest turning violent suggests that those who are protesting are not able or willing to act reasonably, i.e. within societal norms.

      We all agree by being in this society that, a few well-defined exceptions notwithstanding, the government has a monopoly on the lawful use of force. That is probably the most important and obvious of our social contracts. Once people use force to get what they want, we're really back to the law of the jungle. By breaking that norm, protesters indicate that they either don't understand or don't care whether they are operating outside the bounds of decency.

      Their other actions, including the other views they express may reasonably be viewed through a lens that accounts for their disregard for our most critical values, and which therefore potentially characterizes them as irrational actors. This may naturally result in the observer discounting the perceived merits of those other views, whatever they may be.

      • 2 years ago

        Your perception matters a lot.

        If people think you’re violent, they won’t take you seriously

        If people don’t think you’re violent, they will have to resort to actually debating you on your stance.

        Humans will criticize you immediately if they notice something bad.

        You need to retain a “perfect” image when approaching a problem so you can avoid criticism. That’s why PC culture is so prevalent in today’s society. Also the media tends to overinflated a lot of negative aspects of thingst.

        • 2 years ago

          Completely disagree. A protest ideology that permits and excuses the instigation of violence against the nonviolent is, by definition, repressive and terroristic. In Berkeley, the assertion that "Milo is a nazi" and shouldn't be allowed to speak or be heard is intrinsic to violent repression for political ends. Moreover, their terrorism was aided by the police, who were told not to intervene while violence took place. That's the ideology at work, uniting police, violent protest, and peaceful protest; so its the ideology that is wrong.

          Contrast that to protests where participants are peacefully expressing an idea (say, pro-civil rights for blacks in the 60s) and that are violently attacked by civilian opponents while police stand by. If they react to violence, it would be justified. But is their opponents who are villains, because their repressive ideology permits violence to silence peaceful expression.

          • 2 years ago

            To me, the fact that Milo is being interviewed on Fox news tomorrow is proof enough that violence hurts a protest's message, especially in this day and age. Now instead of speaking to a few hundred people at Berkeley, he gets to go and speak his message to millions. This was the exact opposite effect that the protesters wanted, because now he gets to say "free speech is dying" and paint the left as violent authoritarians who can't stand people with a different opinion.

            Maybe earlier in history riots worked, but these days violence just puts people on the defensive because even though they might not be present at the protest/riot, they still feel personally attacked and thus are less willing to listen to what the protesters are trying to say. In my opinion, violence absolutely overrides the intended message of a protest because then it gives the media the ability to only show the violence and disregard anything else.

            • 2 years ago

              I think you're missing the actual point of the criticisms.

              People criticize protests for turning violent because they dislike the point of the protest and violence makes it convenient.

              • 2 years ago

                It's not the violence that de-legitimatizes the cause. It's when the leaders or a large percent of the followers of the cause refuse to denounce that violence that it becomes an issue.

                If 1% of the followers of a cause are violent and the other 99% percent come down hard on that 1% and say this is not what we represent. These people are wrong and we don't want them. Then the ideology is fine. But if the 99% defend the actions of the 1% and make excuses for them or just turn a blind eye. Then it's a real problem.

                • 2 years ago

                  Negate? No.

                  But it does drown out that message under the cacophony of sirens, screams, fire, and destruction. It also robs the protest's legitimacy to everyone else around them who is observing the carnage on TV.

                  • 2 years ago

                    You're right in general, but wrong when applied to the recent protests against Milo. Milo's politics is stupid, makes no sense and lacks any serious thought. The only consistent thing about him is that he is willing to say anything to piss people off. He enjoys it. He calls himself a provocateur rather than a journalist or politician, and he is right about that.

                    Now if you have a violent riot about being so pissed off about this clown who is purposefully trying to annoy you, you have fallen for him. You have proven to everyone that he is right, and that you are easily triggered into extreme overreaction just because someone said something rude.

                    • 2 years ago

                      If you're protesting "fascism" and "nazis" by being violent against those with dissenting views and using tactics reminiscent of Hitler's brown shirts, it most certainly does negate the point.

                      It conveys the message that it's ok to beat up people that disagree with you.

                      • 2 years ago

                        Perhaps, but I would argue that using your freedom of speech in order to protest against freedom of speech (which is precisely what the non-violent protesters at Berkley were doing) by definition negates the point of the protest.

                        • 2 years ago

                          That depends entirely on the point of the protest. Is your protest intended to have an actual impact beyond making you feel as though you're a good person for protesting? If not, then sure, bad things happening at your protest that you fail to control will have no impact on the outcome, because the only outcome is your personal egotism. Hooray!

                          If, however, you want to have an impact on public opinion or even rally your base, violence of any kind will absolutely have deleterious effect.

                          Let's look at the global Scientology protests of 2008 known as Chanology. Chanology certainly did some dubiously legal things at the start, like DDoSing and black faxing. On the advice of Mark Bunker, though, they changed their approach. If you went to one of the protests you'd certainly run across a lot of shouting and chanting and silly costumes and manic energy, but you'd also find that people were making plenty of room for pedestrians, making an effort to get along with local law enforcement, and not destroying anything. Not only that, if you asked about the cause someone would be able to either give you a knowledgeable and articulate answer themselves or point you to someone who could. Someone who not only knew about the specific issues at hand themselves, but likely carried printed out information to give you and could rattle off a list of easy to remember URLs where you could learn more. Mark Bunker's site, xenu.net, was easy to get people to remember and visit.

                          Those are all the things you need to do to have an effective protest.

                          You need to be peaceful. If you're not peaceful, it will be easy to frame as a riot or mob action and that will be the focus, not your cause. Or if your cause is the focus, it will be detrimental to the public's perception of your cause.

                          You need to be cooperative, both with the people whose space you are inhabiting (the citizens of the city) and with the police who keep that space safe. Why should someone support you if you can't even let them get through their neighborhood? Want to win a lot of enemies? Get in the way. Disrespect the locals.

                          You need to be able to talk to people and articulate exactly what it is you're there for. If you can't state the specific reasons why you're there, why should anyone take you seriously? Have specific information prepared with links to further documentation and evidence of your claims. Be able to cite specific events or issues on the spot. Know the issue. Frankly, you do a lot more to spread awareness of an issue simply by being able to speak intelligently about it and doing so with people in normal casual settings than you do by standing around in a big clump somewhere or walking down the street. Those things are good, but only if you're able to state your purpose and give people the information to convince them if they're on the fence. Hell, you can do that on any busy sidewalk on your own and talk to hundreds of people yourself. I'm sure I had a lot more impact talking to people and handing out pamphlets by myself than I did individually showing up to a big protest.

                          Basically, if your attitude is that the only thing that matters is your rage and the personal importance you place on your issue, that's all that's going to come across. People who already agree with you may be excited by your numbers, but to everyone else you're going to look like a bunch of angry hooligans who don't even know what they're fighting for.

                          So yeah, every smashed window every shoved pedestrian every cop you spit on, whatever it is, every single time that happens it negates the point of your protest. Maybe not all at once, but it tarnishes it significantly. It shows that the people who care about this issue can't control themselves and their peers. If you can organize in a way that shows that you actually are capable of working together, that tells people a lot more about you and what you're fighting for than anything you can scream into a megaphone.

                          Destroying property, especially property that provides a living for regular people, will always discredit you in the public eye to a certain degree. The moment you smash a window or burn a car you lose a lot of people.

                          Obviously this is not the case in a revolt, but a protest is not a revolt. Even then, though, if you destroy people's means of income you're not going to get them on your side. At best, whatever it is you're fighting will already have destroyed their lives to a greater extent and they'll find a way to look past it.

                          • 2 years ago

                            In general, I would agree with you, but there are special cases where I wouldn't. You have to consider what the protesters are protesting.

                            The UC Berkeley situation is one of those special cases. The protesters were protesting Milo, free speech, and so called fascism. But in the definition of fascism is the blockage of speech. Therefore, the protesters were resembling fascist qualities. Next point is that obviously a riot occured. Yes, not all protesters were involved in the riot. When violence is what the opposition resorts to, you know they have no argument. So in my opinion, the protesters/rioters were in the wrong. Final point, Berkeley is supposedly the home of free speech. There own community showed that they don't represent those values anymore.

                            My point is that there are special cases where violence is resorted to for certain reasons. Some of those reasons can lead us to conclude that the protesters/rioters were in the wrong.

                            Sometimes there can just be extreme emotion involved in the situation and violence can result. The Berkeley case was not one of these cases.

                            • 2 years ago

                              Sorry for being late to the party but I like this discussion

                              Where you're right: Just because a protest turned violent doesn't mean that their ideas are invalid. If a bumbling drunk hobo said E=MC2 , that doesn't mean that the laws of relativity are just some bullshit ramblings. Ideas stand and fall on their own merits, regardless of who says them.

                              Where you're wrong: The most fascist thing someone can do, in my opinion, is to silence dissenting opinion through the use of summary violence against ideas they deem to be so wrong that they're not even worth discussing. When "anti-fascists" utilize these tactics to fight the fascists, then the fascists win. Then they are completely justified in doing the same. Then it becomes a matter of "might makes right" because whoever punches last is the one whose opinion is the most correct. In that way, locking everyone who disagrees in concentration camps, gassing them and burning them becomes the absolute pinnacle of correctness. It is ridiculously self-defeating. The best way to defeat fascists is to laugh at them, to repeat their ideas and show the world how ridiculous they are. If you punch them, then the fascists are the oppressed ones, then their victimhood becomes a reality. Then they get legitimacy.

                              • 2 years ago

                                When you're a group called Antifa (short for anti-fascist) and you are behaving like a bunch of fascists...it kinda does negate the point.

                                Imagine PETA protesting while wearing real fur coats and eating burgers...

                                • 2 years ago

                                  Change requires power. From moving your body to shifting the perspective of a nation, change requires power. There is the kind of power that comes from violence. Military, weaponry, etc. But the power protesters use to instill change comes from moral authority. Power from moral authority and violence clash. The mix like oil and water. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the greatest protesters of all time, knew this. He knew that protesters were representatives, diplomats for moral authority. "Nonviolence". MLK shouted that over and over like a mantra, because he knew that their power was derived from peace. The second a protest turns violent is the second they lose moral authority. Their power. Yes, the message matters, but it is a message against the status quo. If you lack the moral high ground you lack the leverage to change the status quo. Protests are not designed to change minds; they are designed to change hearts. That can never be done with violence.

                                  • 2 years ago

                                    Negate the point? No. Give people an excuse to ignore the protest - or worse - to crack down on free speech and dissent? Yes.

                                    • 2 years ago

                                      I'd agree that in a generic sense public outrage is public outrage and a point can still be valid even if the means of expressing it aren't appropriate/accepted. The problem arises when considering the objective of the protest. For example, if a protest is started with the ambition of condemning violence and affronts to free speech and eventually resorts to using violence and intimidation to silence the opposition from freely expressing themselves the movement as whole is hypocritical. It defies the underlying idea that made the movement valid to begin with. If you're against apartheid governments and smash a window of a privately owned citizen while protesting your point still stands even if you acted irrationally. If you smash a window while criticizing window smashing you just gonna look like an idiot.

                                      • 2 years ago

                                        I would argue that a protest is neither right nor wrong. We as a society decide what is right and wrong. So a protest that is convincing can become right regardless of what it's message is. The whole point of protesting is to spread a message is it not?

                                        If I wanted to protest something insane (all americans must keep their breast pockets full of ravioli at all times) but was convincing. In the end my insane idea could become law, and history would record me as being in the right at least for a while. (and i'd make a fortune selling shirts with marinara proof pockets)

                                        So it boils down to if you think a violent protest is more convincing.

                                        I don't think it is. Violence won't change my mind. It will at best make me lie.

                                        • 2 years ago

                                          I agree that it doesn't negate the protest, but it sure overshadows it.

                                          A non-violent protest happens. The news covers it, talking about what they are protesting and why. The message and idea is spread.

                                          A violent protest happens. The news covers it, talking about the damage caused and people hurt. The message is not heard, and people who disagree with the protest initially now have "proof" that the people who disagree with them are all crazy violent idiots.

                                          People aren't endless barrels of caring - we can only focus-on and care-about a set number of things. It's difficult for most people to care about the point of the protest as well as the violence of it.

                                          • 2 years ago

                                            It doesn't negate the protest but it certainly weakens your platform.

                                            If I wanted to end poverty by killing all the poor people on earth, is my killing everyone a net good? After all I ended poverty.

                                            • 2 years ago

                                              All I'll say is that by justifying violence by protesters, you are justifying violence against the protesters. If you would view violence implemented as a response to the protests as morally wrong, then you are creating a double standard which cannot be upheld.

                                              • 2 years ago

                                                It can in some cases. Lots of the black lives matter protests have been about how police kill unarmed black people who are not a threat to them. If you are going to attack the police at these events it really detracts from the point you were trying to make.

                                                • 2 years ago

                                                  If a criminal scumbag is sent to jail on a false charge, it doesn't "spoil" our justice system. Our judges are still in the right for jailing this scum. I'm not advocating that those in the justice system choose reason over rule of law, but the message to the community that this scum will not go free is what counts.

                                                  • 2 years ago

                                                    If the people seeing the violence feel it negates it then yes, it negates it regardless of what the issue is.

                                                    • 2 years ago

                                                      When was the last time a protest produced a positive outcome? Not trying to be ignorant but actually curious

                                                      • 2 years ago

                                                        It doesn't but it hurts the point they're trying to make.

                                                        • 2 years ago

                                                          If that's the case, the people who disagree with the violence would speak out if not do their best to stop it. But you don't, because you are a pussy tool.

                                                          • 2 years ago

                                                            Violence indicates the mental faculty of the protesters. If they are mostly morons their "point" is basically irrelevant. Pants-wetting from dumb people is not to be taken seriously.

                                                            • 2 years ago

                                                              these people are paid thugs .... their only goal is to destroy democracy and create anarchy