Who Is Mistral Dawn?

Mistral Dawn is a thirty-something gal who has lived on both coasts of the US but somehow never in the middle. She currently resides in the Southeast US with her kitty cats (please spay or neuter! :-)) where she works as a hospital drudge and attends graduate school. Taken By The Huntsman is her first effort at writing fiction and if it is well received she has ideas for several more novels and short-stories in this series. Please feel free to visit her on FaceBook or drop her a line at mistralkdawn@gmail.com

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Is That A Right?

Hey Everyone!

I want to share a couple thoughts on the events in Charlottesville, VA and the terrorist attack that occurred there, which resulted in the death of Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal who was peacefully expressing her stance against fascism. Once again, I find that I'm hearing an awful lot of people yelling about their rights, and that many of those people seem to have little to no understanding of what those rights are or what they mean. So, I thought it might be helpful to state those rights explicitly and then discuss what they mean and how they do and do not apply to what took place in Charlottesville.

First, to be clear, the rights everyone is talking about are those that are guaranteed to every US citizen by the First and Second Amendments to the US Constitution. So, let's take a look at those amendments, shall we?

Constitution of the United States of America, First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Constitution of the United States of America, Second Amendment:
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Okay, there they are; that's what they say. Now, what does that mean and how do they apply to what happened in Charlottesville?

Well, the first rights that clearly apply are the "right of the people peaceably to assemble" and the "freedom of speech."  Now, these rights belong to all citizens of the United States.  All of them. Which means that, as disgusting and abhorrent as their message is, the Nazis had the right to assemble and to speak their minds. I don't agree with them; I think they're despicable and that they're exceedingly unAmerican in their viewpoint. But none of that changes the fact that they had the right to assemble peacefully and to spew their nonsense, as hateful and disturbing as it is, to their hearts' content.

But, again, those rights apply to all citizens. So, for those of you who are trying to blame what happened on the anti-fascist protesters, you're wrong. Point blank and period. You. Are. Wrong. The anti-fascist protesters had just as much right to assemble and speak as the Nazis did. The fact that they chose to march and sing and speak their minds on the same day and in the same city as those who were defending fascism and hate in no way excuses the violence that was committed against them. In other words, Heather Heyer's actions, and the actions of those who were injured in the same terrorist attack, were protected by her rights under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The actions of the terrorist who murdered her were not.

But, frankly, it's my opinion that the Nazis overstepped the bounds of their rights before one of them drove a car into a crowd of peaceful marchers. To be honest, I think the police should have disbanded at least part of the Nazi rally before that act of violence was committed. Why? Well, it comes down to the other Amendment they were hiding behind. The Second Amendment.

To be fair, this doesn't apply to all of the Nazis who were in Charlottesville. But some of them were walking around in fatigues and carrying assault rifles. They claim they were exercising their Second Amendment right to bear arms, but were they? Is that what the Second Amendment says? Well, look at it. It says that the people's right to "keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" because a "well regulated militia" is necessary for the "security of a free state."

They may have been wearing fatigues, but were the Nazis acting as a well regulated militia?  Well, by definition, a militia is supposed to be a military force that is raised from a civilian population to supplement a professional army in times of emergency. So, they're supposed to be an additional fighting force to help defend the populace when the regular military needs reinforcements. Which implies that a militia is to act under the direction of the same authority that controls the regular military.

Which is clearly not what the Nazis were doing. On the contrary, so far were they from cooperating with the government authority in Charlottesville and protecting the civilian populace, the Nazis broke the law and murdered an unarmed, peaceful US citizen who was doing absolutely nothing wrong. So, what do we call a group of insurrectionists who take up arms against a lawfully instituted government and commit acts of violence against a civilian population to make a political point? Ummm....hmmm...let me think... Oh, that's right! Terrorists.

And, for those who insist that the actions of the Nazis are protected by the First Amendment. Um, nope, you're wrong there, too. The First Amendment specifies that peaceable assembly is protected. Peaceable being the operative word. Armed thugs waving assault rifles around in an effort to intimidate those who disagree with them politically and so stifle dissent is the exact opposite of peaceable. In short, if your intent is to be peaceable, there's no need for you to carry a gun to a political rally.

Is the fact that the murder of Heather Heyer was committed with a car and not a gun therefore somewhat ironic? Yes. But the point stands. If you want to be able to claim First Amendment protections, you cannot present yourself as an armed terrorist group and threaten your political opponents with violence. Your right to speak your mind is protected, not your right to silence others.

What happened in Charlottesville is a tragedy on multiple levels. Because of the violence and loss of life, yes, but also because it has made clear how many people in this country have completely missed the point of what this country stands for and of the principles on which it was founded. To sum up, Heather Heyer was right. "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention."


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