The Richmond Palladium-Item newspaper seems to have multiple personalities when it comes to characterizing the nature of civil protest. In Friday's editorial, they so nobly say "It's our right to stand up for our beliefs, tell our elected officials we disagree, share our viewpoints with neighbors, family and friends, strive for the betterment of our country as a whole. That right brings with it a responsibility to respect others' ideas, hear out their concerns and try at the very least to understand our differences." The article then proceeds to condemn any protest that violates the law, indicating there is some concept of "vital" and "proper" protest, of which illegal acts are not a part. I suppose, then, that they would have had to condemn the entire U.S. civil rights movement, the actions of fellow journalists who disobey the law to protect sources, and a slew of other "improper" protests throughout the history of our country. (Perhaps they misunderstand that sometimes acting improperly is, unfortunately, the only way to draw attention to a cause, for better or worse.) But surely, then, the above statement means they do support and respect legal and peaceful acts that share viewpoints, encourage dialogue about our beliefs, and work to change our communities for the better, right? Like a written petition, maybe? Apparently not - they would call such actions "misguided" and "desperate" and "an affront to civic fair play", and go on to equate those actions with physical assault.
Wow. If I understand their position correctly as derived from their various published statements, the only kind of disagreement that is proper or fair is no real disagreement at all. It's sad and scary that a local institution that is theoretically so much a part of facilitating free speech and dialogue about the community - even when it involves acts of protest - seems to so manifestly misunderstand those opportunities, and the vehicles available for engaging in them.