Political Radicals? Friends Don’t Do Stupid Things in Public

Written by Rob Morse on May 16, 2014

Dear radicals.  I support liberty, and I know the tree of liberty has many branches.  That said, I’ll condemn you if you do stupid things in public that undermine the growth of liberty.  As supporters of liberty, it is our job, yours AND mine, to persuade the public.  We don’t get to do stupid things in public and then tell the public they took our actions the wrong way.  Using the right of self-defense as an example: we better know how our message is perceived before we open-carry an AR while we are half naked wearing black-face and camouflage.. while we march and scream in front of a day care center.  Is that message clear enough?

Can you do such a thing?  Sure, for a while.  We absolutely have the right to do stupid things, but we can’t demand the public agree and support us.

Other people get to make up their own minds about what we’ve done.  Yes, they are free to decide for themselves.  What a radical thought.  You have to compete for hearts and minds.  If you’re showing off in public for attention, then you’re not out to win hearts and minds.

The public is as it is.  My neighbors think what they think.  We don’t get to argue with public perception and claim we were “misunderstood” if we do something stupid and are widely condemned.  That self-righteous “you’re all idiots and don’t understand my clever demonstration” is an immature attitude.  It is childish and petulant.  I’m sorry, but grownups ask question before they make public statements so they know how their actions will be received.  This is true in every public debate.

Sure you have the right to scream that abortionists are murderers while pour red die on your cloths and the sidewalk.  Don’t be surprised if the public steps back and tunes you out after that display.  You can call out taxation as theft by a gun wielding government, but don’t be surprised if the public doesn’t listen.  There is a difference between persuasive debate and radical public demonstration.  Welcome to the US of A where you have the right to be stupid and offensive in public.  I suggest you put on your big boy pants and act like an adult.

You can destroy liberty by stupidly abusing it.  Please don’t blame the ill-informed and uninterested public for their phone calls to the politicians after your public display.  Don’t blame the politician for his knee jerk reaction to the phone calls.  I blame you, and welcome to the grownup world, Bubba and Bubbette.  With great power comes great responsibility, and you can look like a giant ass if you try.

We are responsible for how we are perceived, and heaven knows that the media wants lovers of liberty to look like crazy fools.  Fortunately, we can test public reaction before we act.  We can also test political reaction before we act.  This is hard work, and no one forces the lazy radical to do it.

I understand the urge to feel radical and righteous, but you don’t get any credit from me for pleasing yourself in the public square.  There is a name for that, and you were supposed to learn self-control back in junior high school.  Hold on to your passion, but don’t play with it in public.

Take a minute to study the problem of public persuasion so you change minds and hearts the way you intend.  Dress like a salesman if you want to sell your ideas.

The radical activist can alienate anyone he wants, but he is not the friend of liberty.

Image: Courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/delainahaslam/9112053342/