Steven Kurlander: There is no constitutional right to riot

Another African-American young adult confronts police, another death results, another riot ensues. Another Ferguson.

Cries of police brutality once again seek to justify unmitigated rioting and to justify not allowing riot police to prevent destruction and restore law and order by necessary force.

This time, it was Baltimore. It’s becoming business as usual in 21st century America. 2015 meets 1967.

In this era, it’s playing live on social media and television, with CNN and MSNBC “reporters” pontificating at the scene about the social causes of the violence. Reporters stood there justifying the violence, actually encouraging it, instead of just reporting in a neutral journalistic manner.

They gave front stage to idiotic thugs as they cut fire hoses being used by beleaguered firemen to fight mob-set fires, all in front of millions of Americans.

Once again, the violence went unabated, and Americans, numb from the significance of the violence taking place across their country, watched awhile, then turned their attention to The Voice, a baseball game or Bruce TransJenner reality shows.

In the era of Obamaesque political correctness, the lessons that should be learned from Ferguson, Staten Island and now Baltimore are lost.

We should be reevaluating the September 11th justification for the militarization of our local police as both social and constitutional issues.

Instead, it’s become just another act in the Theater of the American Absurd in our 24-7 cycle, just as much as Jenner’s sex change has become the obsession of the American people.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake set the stage for violence in her city when, in describing police restraint in the face of weekend demonstrations over the death of Freddie Gray, she told a news conference, “We also gave those who wish to destroy space to do that as well.”

What an idiot. She basically told Baltimore it’s OK to riot, to attack the police with bricks, to burn their neighborhoods, all in the name of protesting police brutality and their terrible way of life in their city’s festering slums.

Instead of saying that violence will not be tolerated, Mayor Rawlings-Blake enunciated a new, politically correct tolerance for the destruction of private property as a new, politically correct 1st Amendment right to protest.

So neighborhoods in Baltimore erupted into unchallenged violence Monday night.

Looters, gang members, and those who came from out of the city to destroy Baltimore neighborhoods got the green light to “burn baby burn.”

Rioters, particularly high school students, took a page from the Arab Spring in using social media to rally protesters to a mall to begin a “protest” for a peaceful march over

Gray’s death that quickly turned into an assault on police and looting in the streets.

To justify the unlawfulness, youthful organizers of a protest on Monday purposely emulated “The Purge,” a film centered on lawlessness in the future.

As much as the Arab Spring has turned a number of Arab countries into swaths of anarchy and destruction, America now stands on the precipice of similar anarchy in its inner city ghettos.

Much as Jenner has turned into a woman, America is turning into a tolerated state of anarchy.

The lesson of Baltimore should be that Americans need to wake up in front of their tablets and televisions and notice how the misuse of words and arguments in Baltimore, and Ferguson too, leads to violent behavior that must be questioned and not tolerated.

Never should there be a right to riot, or a tolerance of it on any city street.

Steven Kurlander blogs at Kurly’s Kommentary ( and writes for Context Florida and The Huffington Post and can be found on Twitter @Kurlykomments. He lives in Monticello, N.Y. Column courtesy of Context Florida. 

Guest Author

One comment

  • Allan Erickson

    May 3, 2015 at 10:07 am

    Dear Steven:
    We Americans are a very weird lot. We sit back on our couches, from the suburban vantage point of our “safe” homes, and pontificate upon the rest of the world how to run their lives. Most of us do not travel much, even within our own country, much less around the world, but we very loudly view the opinions and occurrences elsewhere, through our very narrow prism that is Television and, increasingly the Internet. We would rather sit on our can and argue about stupid stuff, and argue about what is really inconsequential, than take the time to really research a topic or issue and formulate a fact-based point of view. We usually will only watch news sources that adhere to what we are told should be our viewpoint.
    That is why we are so readily able to be dragged into theatres of the absurd. The news sources are totally missing the point of these protests. And, in fact, the news sources are part of the root problems. They give short shift to the substantive issues, in search of the quick fixes that will earn them Nielsen ratings.
    As was pointed out in the op-ed pieces in the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun, these cities — Baltimore, St. Louis, Orlando, NYC, Boston, LA and many others — are but shells of what they used to be. The cities used to be hubs, hubs of commerce, hubs of economic activity. For over a hundred years, people lived and worked in these cities. They were immigration destinations. Folks could pick up stakes, from the rural regions of the USA or from the under-privileged areas of other countries, and move to the cities to find work and build a livelihood. Over the past fifty or so years, the jobs and economic activity and commerce moved, first to the suburbs and then to areas outside of our country. What was left were the folks that couldn’t or wouldn’t move, and the “bottom-feeders” of the economy that feasted on the down-trodden… To paraphrase from Billy Joel’s “Allentown”, all while “… waving an American flag in our face!”
    Sure there were cycles of positive gains and activity, folks that took advantage of the upturns and built new products and services. In the process, however, more folks were kicked down stairs than made it upstairs. And the cycles kept repeating themselves.
    To that we add a few bad-apple police, hell-bent on protecting their American Dream, or taking some outsized advantage over the rest of humanity. These bad-apples refuse to see themselves for what they are — thugs with badges. And even though most of our police are probably not the issue, and most are doing it right, It only takes a few to get the courage of a Wallenbourg… yet most prefer to cower… This makes the righteous into the complicit…

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