Contributing to the chaos

Dan Abernathy
Posted 9/2/21

Local commentary from contributor Dan Abernathy.

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Contributing to the chaos


The leader of the far-right Proud Boys was sentenced to more than five months in jail after admitting that he burned a Black Lives Matter banner taken from a historic Black church in Washington during a pro-Trump demonstration in December.

Henry Tarrio, known as “Enrique” by members of the Proud Boys, is the commanding noodle of what they are self-described as a politically incorrect men’s club for “Western chauvinists.” Its members frequently have engaged in street fights with antifascist activists at rallies and protests.

Authorities say that Proud Boys members stole the Black Lives Matter banner from the Asbury United Methodist Church, and then set it ablaze. Tarrio posted a picture of himself holding an unlit lighter and admitted days later in an interview with The Washington Post that he joined in the burning of the banner.

Rev. Dr. Ianther Mills, senior pastor of the church, told the judge it was an “act of intimidation and racism" that caused “immeasurable and possibly irreparable harm” on the community.

“His careless act of violence and hatred, targeted at a congregation of individuals with a lived history of social and racial injustice, had the presumably desired effect,” she said. “Asbury was forced to reckon with the very tangible evidence that we continue to live in a world where people radicalize hate based upon race and skin color.”

The judge said Tarrio deserved even more time behind bars than the three months that prosecutors had sought. Judge Harold Cushenberry blasted the Proud Boys leader for claiming that he didn’t know that the banner came from a church, even though there was a video of Tarrio standing near the church when it was stolen.

“Mr. Tarrio has clearly, intentionally and proudly, crossed the line from peaceful protest and assembly to dangerous and potentially violent criminal conduct,” the judge said.

What Tarrio did was completely wrong and shameful and he should be severely scolded. Perhaps even sent to his room for bad behavior but what he did was protected under the First Amendment. Had he burnt the flag that waves as a symbol for the United States, nothing would have happened.

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that the government cannot prohibit citizens from desecrating the American flag. Congress has repeatedly attempted to outlaw flag burning through legislation and constitutional amendments, but none of these attempts have succeeded.

The Supreme Court has tried to define free speech in several of its opinions. Basically, it stated that “speech” covers areas beyond talking and writing. The court interpreted the First Amendment to apply to symbolic expressions such as burning flags, burning crosses and wearing armbands.

The court also held that the government generally couldn’t restrict speech based on its content. That means the government can’t stop someone from expressing an idea just because most people find it offensive. This is because the government doesn’t have the right to decide what ideas or information people are allowed to hear.

The First Amendment protects burning the flag because the act falls within “expressive conduct.”

The American flag is the symbol of a country, our country that allows the very people that are protesting, rioting and acting like thoughtless adolescents to say and display what they choose. So why is the Black Lives Matter banner holding a higher place of reverence then the American flag, or any other flag for that matter?

Another flag that should be seen waving high and vibrant is the red flag. The red flag is a signal for danger or a problem. It is a usage that originated in the 18th century. I find it extremely amazing that after these flags wave in the faces of onlookers, so many still choose to ignore the possibilities of harm, injury or at the very least unruly uncertainty. Perhaps it would be better if, “we the people,” show concern and stop ignoring the red flag and ask why it is waving in you face.

What is becoming a doctrine, forced down our throats on a tarnished spoon filled with the taste of cod-liver oil, is a controlling freedom of thought and individuality manifesto we are allowing to be what is.

Do not stifle your thought. Learn everything that you can so you may reach the approved conclusions.

To help with the summing up of the division of discourse and outcome, here is a list of questions that have been approved for you to ask.

Please fill free to study and investigate for yourself. Here is a list of sources that have been approved so you may think and judge favorably.

We need to engage commonsense, and though I do believe common sense is important, those that seek the ruling hierarchy fear it. Common sense is not a gift. In today’s world it is more of a penance or punishment because you are forced to deal with all those that no longer implement it.

A belief is the confidence of an opinion or conviction that holds the truth of existence. Ideology is a doctrine, be it myth or belief that guides an individual, social movement or large group.

What must be removed with a slight pause and evaluation, being vigilant and closely observant with caution and watchful of any belief or ideology the brutally promoted division between you and your fellow human beings.

Until, if and when, this time reappears I will daily, with great calmness and confusion, continue to pointedly utter, “Oh for Hell’s sake!” - dbA

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