There is no doubt that tension can be high while standing against perceived injustices. When you or others seem to be treated as second class citizens, you can become angry. And, when such feelings run high, we might be tempted to act in ways that are inconsistent with what we are standing for. When we act in ways that disrupt or restrict the rights of others, we are not standing for justice: we are vigilantes.
This is the way some of the protesters in Missouri acted when faced with the media Monday. But this was not just a protester and a journalist—this was a student and a faculty member.
The Dean of the Missouri School of Journalism on Tuesday lambasted an assistant communications professor and lauded a photojournalism student for their roles in Monday’s viral video showing a confrontation between that student journalist and protesters attempting to block him from shooting photos on a public quad.
The filmed confrontation appeared to show the University of Missouri protesters, including Assistant Professor Melissa Click, engaging in a clear violation of the First Amendment, since the incident occurred in a public space on the campus of a public university.
And this is the kicker. This person of authority and position was acting like a Brown Shirted thug. These protesters act as if all their actions are justified. Because they have a cause, they can do what they want. They do not have the right to occupy a public space to the detriment of the rights of others.
The student, along with other media agents, was seeking to see how the protesters would react to the University President resigned.
The video was posted on YouTube shortly after University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe resigned following a week of protests over his perceived lack of response to a series of racially charged incidents. The Los Angeles Times reported that Tim Tai, a 20-year-old senior at the university working on a freelance assignment for ESPN, went to the protesters’ tent encampment to document their reaction to the news.
Shortly after Tai arrived and began to take photos, the protesters formed a ring around the encampment and began to push away the assembled media. Tai refused to budge.
These people did not care that this young man was doing his job. They did not care that he was a student. But, most importantly, they did not care that his Constitutional rights were being infringed. They want rights and do not care for the rights of others. And this assistant professor brazenly threatened and verbally abused this student.
This is the worst of it, at least from my perspective. Much like what we have seen at similar situations over the past two years. There is an incident in which there is perceived discrimination. People, feeling that they must stand against injustice gather to protest. After several days or a week, these people begin to gain ground in the dispute. This leads to a feeling of entitlement, which causes them to feel justified in all their actions. And innocent people lose their rights if they find themselves in opposition to the cause.
In other words, people begin to feel that, since their cause has been vindicated, all of the actions they take in the name of that cause are just. But this is not true. Actions are just or unjust on their own merit. The right to the First Amendment is nowhere suspended or given exceptions. Thank God for people like Tai, who understand that the freedom of the people is dependent on the Freedom of the Press.
Hopefully, the next time Mrs. Click stands at the University to protest, she will not have to worry about being an employee of the school.