We welcome the tremendous outpouring of support shown to the FtJ1 movement thus far, but there have been a few comments that have displayed a certain level of, well, douchebaggery. Emblematic of these is Jim Manzi’s post at the American Scene, which seems to suggest that getting park police who don’t act like jackbooted thugs would be just too goshdarned expensive:
How would we go about having a world where a group can do this without any fear of interference by law enforcement? I think the key requirement would be fielding a police force consistently capable of distinguishing between “harmless and fun, if unusual, behavior” and “disruptive behavior that could plausibly be interpreted as legal or illegal, but is disconcerting and threatens to get worse”. One thing that might help somewhat is to hire smarter cops. But smart people are a finite resource, so this would probably cost more (that is, we would pay higher taxes).
Thankfully, a commenter by the name of “Freddy” at Manzi’s own site pwns him pretty thoroughly, and sums up the whole affair as well as anyone I’ve heard thus far :
There is a disturbing kind of ad hominem here, that because these are young bloggers having a good time, because they are being quirky and self-conscious, because their actions are mainly artistic or (gasp) fun, they somehow have less rights that they would, were they making a more formal or solemn protest. The idea that because, to others, they were “just fooling around”, and thus shouldn’t be entitled to the same legal protections as everyone else, is antithetical to our system. It isn’t for the government or society to decide who’s opinion is sufficiently worthy or serious enough to protect. The right to free expression has no meaning if it is defended unequally or particularly, if the expression or the people expressing it has to meet some sort of exterior standard of seriousness or credibility. The fact that they were just some goofy kids having fun is absolutely immaterial to the question of whether or not they should be allowed to peacefully assemble and peacefully express. The relevant questions are, first, whether they were fairly treated by the park police, in accordance to legal statute and not in regards to vague questions of suspicion, unruliness or decorum. And second, if they were in fact guilty of a crime, whether that law is constitutionally defensible and does not unduly interfere with their protected rights to speech and assembly.