Cartoon: Run Them Down

This cartoon appears today at The Nib.

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Transcript of Cartoon

Panel 1 shows a white man wearing a collared shirt and a necktie pouring gasoline out of a can.
MAN: Wow, this popular conservative columnist and law professor says protestors should be run down! Retweet!

Panel 2 shows the same man striking a match. He has a disturbingly large grin.
MAN: GOP legislators in North Carolina, Florida and Tennesee want to protect drivers who “accidentally” run down protestors? About time!

Panel 3 shows the same man, lit by a huge fire behind him, shrugging.
MAN: Someone plowed their car into left-wing protestors? How awful! How does someone even come up with a sick idea like that?

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52 Responses to Cartoon: Run Them Down

  1. 1
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    I don’t like this as much as your last few.

    In no order:

    1) I think the cartoon would work better if the subject were less evil-looking. Or is it supposed to be Glenn Reynolds himself? It doesn’t look like him.

    2) More to the point, I don’t think the text is as good. Assuming the driver was some sort of right wing terrorist, which is a reasonable starting point, then the car attack is such a big deal that it’s weird set against “Glenn Reynolds’ 2016 tweet.” Better IMO would be things like juxtaposing right wing responses to European car attacks and this car attack.

    3) If you’re making the “this was expected when you talk like that” argument that is confusing: there are plenty of left groups which have on occasion failed to be 100% pacifist in their chosen words. In particular those include groups which speak for the less empowered. If you argue for shutting down this sort of comment it’s likely to hit the left harder than the right.

    4) Also, for other folks, the NC law is very interesting. I had not read it until today. Here is a link.The below text IS NOT the linked text of the law; I have copied/pasted/outlined it for clarity. Caps and emphasis and notes are mine.

    § 1-539.13 Immunity from civil liability for certain automobile drivers.

    (a) A person driving an automobile is immune from civil liability for the injury caused IF THEY
    (Note: No effect on criminal liability)

    . (i) are exercising due care AND
    (Note: failure to exercise due care voids exemption. Someone who guns it into a crowd isn’t exercising due care.)

    . (ii) the actions leading to the injury WERE NOT EITHER willful or wanton; AND
    (Note: “willful” is surprisingly easy to prove. “Wanton” is not. As with a “lack of due care,” either willful or wanton voids exemption.)

    . (iii) they injure another person WHO IS participating in a protest or demonstration AND IS
    (Note: No exemptions for injury to bystanders)

    . (1) blocking traffic in a public street or highway OTHER THAN
    . (2) a public street or highway where they have a valid permit for protesting or demonstration.

    (Note: In other words, if you have a permit and you’re in the permit area, this law does not apply.)

    I have no idea if the current asshole was considering whether he would be exempt from civil liability–I suspect he was trying to hurt a lot of people and he didn’t care. But as far as the actual law goes, it would not apply to him.

  2. 2
    Mandolin says:

    I really like the use of color and line here to escalate the mood of the situation in a creepy, subconsciously acting way (in parallel to the conscious action of the text, symbolism, etc).

  3. 3
    Kate says:

    If you’re making the “this was expected when you talk like that” argument that is confusing: there are plenty of left groups which have on occasion failed to be 100% pacifist in their chosen words. In particular those include groups which speak for the less empowered. If you argue for shutting down this sort of comment it’s likely to hit the left harder than the right.

    This is a ridiculous false equivalency. On the right, the President of the United States has repeatedly used violent rhetoric, encouraging his supporters to attack protesters at his rallys. There is no left wing equivalent of Donald Trump, or his vile advisors, Bannon, and Gorka. These people have power. There are no powerful Democrats calling for violence the way these men are. BOTH SIDES ARE NOT DOING THIS!!!!
    Alt-right groups are literally flying Nazi flags and giving Nazi salutes while saying Heil Trump, and chanting “Blood and soil” while carrying torches, and guns. THERE IS NO LEFT WING EQUIVALENT OF THIS!!!!

  4. 4
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Kate says:
    August 14, 2017 at 3:30 pm
    This is a ridiculous false equivalency.

    That is not my point. The issue is that many people on the left simultaneously seem to think the government tends to be authoritarian (I agree!); that it tends to abuse its power (I agree!); and that the government can be very dangerous (I agree!) And in response they want…. to give the government more power and more authority to shut down speech it doesn’t like, trusting it not to abuse that power this time, pinky promise! That seems to me to be a really dumb idea.

    There is no left wing equivalent

    The right hasn’t done a lot of rioting and looting. That doesn’t mean they’re not dangerous, right? Or does it? Because of course, the folks who make equivalencies don’t view the Ferguson or Baltimore riots as substantially different from the Charlottesville affair. They don’t make exception for people who are “disempowered.”

    And if you ignore acts, there is a lot of commonality among groups when it comes to speech . Surely you must know there is a lot of violent or semi-violent rhetoric, all over the place–antifa is the easiest but by no means the only example.

    If you decide to ban this sort of thing, who do you think is going to get arrested first? The people who the government likes? That’s silly. I’d bet on Black Lives Matter, because people are already suing BLM for the fact that some person shot a cop.

    I think the BLM suit is bullshit; I also think it’s bullshit to blame Glenn Reynolds for what some crazy dude did last weekend. I wish you’d understand: if you set up a system where Glenn is guilty, BLM is going to have a tough time.

  5. 5
    Mookie says:

    the car attack is such a big deal that it’s weird set against “Glenn Reynolds’ 2016 tweet.” Better IMO would be things like juxtaposing right wing responses to European car attacks and this car attack.

    The cartoon suggests that people like Reynolds (and, more to the point, Republican legislators in Tennessee, North Carolina, North Dakota, Florida, and Texas, among others) have enabled and provided future cover for such acts by trying to legitimize as constructive and legalize both intentional* and accidental vehicular attacks on public protesters, and this legislation was proposed in the aftermath of American protests, not European ones. Moreover, the European attacks were not targeting political expression but ordinary people celebrating (Nice) or just unsuspectingly living out their lives (Berlin, Stockholm, London). Why, then, would Amp want or need to mention them? They’re not remotely the context for the legislation under discussion.

    there are plenty of left groups which have on occasion failed to be 100% pacifist in their chosen words

    Can you name an example of a left-wing attack that was preceded by a left-wing politician or thinker advocating to protect future left-wing terrorists when they physically harm their opponents during free assembly? If not, I don’t know how this is anything other than a non-sequitur. Amp is connecting explicit words to specific actors engaging in specific acts. That there are no clean hands when it comes to political activists of all stripes turning to unprovoked violence is unremarkable and irrelevant.

    *despite what you say, no, it is not always easy to prove willfulness or intent and that, of course, is what people who support this legislation are banking on. They are not interested in protecting people who accidentally harm protestors or who do so in self-defense. If they were, they’d be citing instances in which people have been falsely accused and successfully prosecuted for doing so; they can’t because it’s never happened. They are not trying to protect future victims of an unjust justice system, but protect vigilantes from the consequences of their actions by drafting legislation that suggests protestors are provoking attacks aimed at harming, intimidating, and terrorizing them while providing terrorists with built-in plausible deniability about their intentions once caught. Such legislation would have a chilling effect on freedom of expression, and that’s what it’s designed to do.

  6. 6
    Mookie says:

    To reiterate, this proposed legislation fails at what laws are meant to do: solve an extant problem. Do we have a plethora of innocent people being held civilly liable for accidentally running protestors over or doing so in order to escape? Even at the height of the pipeline protests, a lieutenant with the North Dakota Highway Patrol said no. Is there anything that currently prevents drivers from claiming self-defense or non-negligence when facing criminal charges or civil suits?

  7. 7
    desipis says:

    Kate:

    On the right, the President of the United States has repeatedly used violent rhetoric, encouraging his supporters to attack protesters at his rallys. There is no left wing equivalent of Donald Trump

    There might not be a left-wing president but the “It’s OK to punch a nazi” group on the left have a lot to answer for.

    Alt-right groups are literally flying Nazi flags and giving Nazi salutes while saying Heil Trump, and chanting “Blood and soil” while carrying torches, and guns. THERE IS NO LEFT WING EQUIVALENT OF THIS!!!!

    Of course there is. What you describe is the mirror of antifa and their fellow communist revolutionaries, people who proudly bear the hammer and sickle and talk about violently over-throwing capitalism. They were there on this same day committing organised violent assaults on anyone they deemed right-wing. They might not have used cars to attack, but they did use sticks, rocks, chemicals and fire. Violence begot violence.

  8. 8
    Ampersand says:

    If you decide to ban this sort of thing,

    This seems like a strawman. Who on this thread has proposed a “ban” of… I’m not even sure what you think people are suggesting should be banned. Glenn Reynalds? Legislators proposing stupid legislation?

  9. 9
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Mookie says:
    Can you name an example of a left-wing attack…

    Yup. I can also name a lot of examples of right-wing attacks.

    …that was preceded by a left-wing politician or thinker advocating to protect future left-wing terrorists when they physically harm their opponents during free assembly?

    No, but requiring a match at that level of specificity is stupid. Neither can I name a large scale city-destroying right-wing riot that was preceded by a lot of right-wing demagoguery. Neither can I name a right-wing group which pulled down statues after a lot of speeches about how evil statues are. WHo the hell cares?

    You’re playing exception games, and you seem to think this is Different From Everything Else, but this isn’t really an exception.

    The cartoon suggests that people like Reynolds (and, more to the point, Republican legislators in Tennessee, North Carolina, North Dakota, Florida, and Texas, among others) have enabled and provided future cover for such acts

    Yup. And my point is that this view is dangerous.

    If you think Glenn is semi-responsible for the nut who drove a car into folks, then you will either need to support a similar level of causation-analysis on the left, of you’ll be a hypocrite. I assume it’s the former, and I am arguing against it.

    by trying to legitimize as constructive

    What does this even mean?

    and legalize

    Well, no.

    both intentional*

    This is a bold-faced lie and you should be embarrassed to make that claim. That said you clearly have no idea what you’re talking about because you say things like this:

    If they were, they’d be citing instances in which people have been falsely accused and successfully prosecuted for doing so; they can’t because it’s never happened.

    This has nothing to do with prosecution. Criminal law is unchanged. And this has nothing to do with false accusations.

    The only thing you get right is this:

    legislation that suggests protestors are provoking attacks

    Which they often are; many protestors are gunning for a fight. Those bats and piss balloons are there for a reason. It is obviously quite straightforward to avoid this law entirely (get a permit, stay in the permit site, don’t otherwise block roads) and anyone who wants to avoid it can do so.

    Anyway, you mentioned:

    and accidental vehicular attacks

    Ain’t no such thing. Accidents are not attacks; attacks are not accidents. Make up your mind.

    on public protesters,

    Yes. This is, roughly speaking, the only accurate line in your summary. That’s a pretty low score.

    and this legislation was proposed in the aftermath of American protests, not European ones.

    Yup. And?

    The car attack–which is fairly new to the U.S. also happened in the aftermath of the various European car attacks.

    It’s ludicrous to imagine that the killer was motivated by ineffective legislation (which was hardly discussed until after he drove into the crowd) and not motivated by the recent highly-publicized car attacks.

    Moreover, the European attacks were not targeting political expression but ordinary people celebrating (Nice) or just unsuspectingly living out their lives (Berlin, Stockholm, London).

    I suspect the folks who drove the trucks would disagree. Unless you want to carefully define “political expression” which I am beginning to suspect you will try to do.

    Why, then, would Amp want or need to mention them? They’re not remotely the context for the legislation under discussion.

    That’s funny. I thought we were discussing the car attack…?

  10. 10
    RonF says:

    I think that the first two panels are a gross misrepresentation of Glenn Reynolds’ position on those matters, especially with the scare quotes around the word “accidentally” in the 2nd panel. I read Instapundit every day and I have followed his articles on this matter. My understanding is and has always been that when he says accident he means accident; he is referring to the circumstance we have repeatedly seen at Black Lives Matter and other such demonstrations wherein protesters run out onto highways and major roads to block them with no permit to do so and little regard to traffic. He is clearly not referring to the circumstance that happened in Charlottesville. He absolutely is not encouraging or hoping that someone runs down a demonstrator. That’s the last thing he wants to happen.

  11. 11
    Ben Lehman says:

    I like this cartoon a lot. I feel like it gets close to expressing my anger on this subject.

    A leftwing attack following a leftwing politician advocating for laws protecting leftwing attackers from violence: The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution comes to mind, but that was 50 years ago and in another country, so it’s not exactly apropos.

    The American left has never had that level of entrenched state support.

    Our current set of wannabe-authoritarians wishes that they had as much power as Mao, and thank God that they don’t.

  12. 12
    Ampersand says:

    Ron, the second panel isn’t a reference to or a representation of Glenn Reynold’s position at all.

    The first panel refers to this tweet from Professor Reynolds:

    I think that, at the time Reynolds posted it, it was intended as a dark-humoured joke about running down left-wing protesters. (That’s the charitable interpretation.)

    But Reynolds himself (in a walking back that I don’t buy, but I could be wrong) says he was serious, and advocates not stopping when blocked by protesters, as long as one doesn’t “actually aim” at protesters. He defends this as a form of self-defense.

    Sorry, blocking the interstate is dangerous, and trapping people in their cars and surrounding them is a threat. Driving on is self-preservation, especially when we’ve had mobs destroying property and injuring and killing people. […]

    I wouldn’t actually aim for people blocking the road, but I wouldn’t stop because I’d fear for my safety, as I think any reasonable person would.

    TL,DR: I stand by my cartoon.

  13. 13
    Ampersand says:

    I will say that my purpose with this cartoon was not to draw a direct “if not this, then not that” causality between Reynold’s tweet, the various GOP laws referred to, and the Charlottesville homicide-by-car. To me, that all three things involved the theme of running down left-wing protesters is a useful connection to hang a cartoon on. But I don’t believe there was a direct cause and effect between Reynold’s tweet and James Alex Fields’ homicide. (It’s entirely possible that if Fields hadn’t had a car on hand he would have been shooting protesters with a gun instead, for example.)

    I do believe that when the leadership class of a movement – and although the definition of “leadership class” is fuzzy, I’m pretty sure that prominent law professors, columnists in major newspapers, and elected politicians all fit into that category – uses rhetoric and framings that make actual violence more likely, then they share some responsibility for what happens.

    For purposes of the cartoon, I focused on items directly related to running down protestors with a car. But I think that Donald Trump’s public approval of violence against left-wing protestors, and his obvious reluctance to condemn violent white supremacists, matters more.

    Or this NRA ad, telling viewers to fight protesters with “the clenched fist of truth.”

    Or this: Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin Says Blood May Need to Be Shed if Hillary Clinton Is Elected.

    Or this: US Congressional Candidate Who Attacked Reporter Wins Election, Apologizes.

    I think it’s inevitable that any large political movement is going to include some violent and dehumanizing rhetoric, and even some actual violence, at the margins. But when the leadership class of a movement – up to and including the president – engages in rhetoric that encourages violence, that’s a different thing. It makes the violence not just the inevitable effect of being a large movement, but the consequence of choices made by the movement’s leaders. and by the base that chose these people as their leaders.

    And that’s what this cartoon is about, at least in my eyes.

  14. 14
    Mookie says:

    Or this NRA ad, telling viewers to fight protesters with “the clenched fist of truth.”

    Or this: Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin Says Blood May Need to Be Shed if Hillary Clinton Is Elected.

    Or this: US Congressional Candidate Who Attacked Reporter Wins Election, Apologizes.

    Or this cop.
    Or this cop and police union president.
    Or the POTUS in the wee hours, re-tweeting an image of a train running a journalist over.

  15. 15
    RonF says:

    If I was driving on a road and a mob of angry people ran in front of me I would do everything I could to avoid hitting them – but after 5 cops in Dallas assassinated at a Black Lives Matter march, serious attempts to assassinate GOP congressmen in our nation’s capital, an extremely vocal anti-Trump activist gunning down his neighbor and then standing there and watching him die and other such events I would not stop in order to do so. I would fear for my life and would put preserving my own life before preserving theirs. I too would “run them down”. As the old saying goes, I’d rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6. It has happened to me before, in fact – I was driving a cab and a group jumped me. Fortunately I did not have to run over any of them, but that was due to good fortune and the fact I was able to steer away in reverse and get to a place they could not chase me.

    Which is where I understood Prof. Reynolds was coming from when I saw the tweet in the first place myself; and if his explanation (which, again, I presumed was the case before he made it) was too long for you to read then how can you make a valid criticism of him? He’s not saying “Seek them out to run them over”, he’s saying “Run them down if they try to trap you.” I’d do the same. If such a mob attempted to stop me I’d consider my life in danger and act accordingly.

  16. 16
    Kate says:

    No, but requiring a match at that level of specificity is stupid.

    I think Amp answered this best:

    I think it’s inevitable that any large political movement is going to include some violent and dehumanizing rhetoric, and even some actual violence, at the margins. But when the leadership class of a movement – up to and including the president – engages in rhetoric that encourages violence, that’s a different thing. It makes the violence not just the inevitable effect of being a large movement, but the consequence of choices made by the movement’s leaders. and by the base that chose these people as their leaders.

    The violence on the left in the U.S. today is being fought from within by its own leadership, and strongly and unambigiously condemned by Democrats. People need to turn to entertainers and commedians, people whose job it is to shock and entertain, to find violent rhetoric on the left. The violence on the right is being stoked by its POLITICAL leadership, including the Republican president of the United States.
    The proPalestinian left is often antiSemitic. But, that does not go unchallenged on the left, and there is broad agreement that both Jews and Palestinians have the right to exist. The right, on the other hand, has actual Nazi’s marching now and supports strains of Zionism that would exterminate the Palestinians. There is a growing genocidal streak on the right in America today which is not paralleled on the left.

  17. 17
    Kate says:

    I also think that drawing a distinction between murder and property crimes is not a minor detail.

    According to the Cato Institute:

    Nationalist and Right Wing terrorists are the second deadliest group of terrorists by ideology and account for 228 murders and 6.9 percent of all terrorist deaths. The chance of being murdered in a Nationalist or Right Wing terrorist attack was 1 in 33 million per year. The 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the second deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history after 9/11, killed 168 people and accounted for 74 percent of the murders committed by Nationalist and Right Wing terrorists. Left Wing terrorists killed only 19 people in terrorist attacks during this time but 15 since 2016. Nationalist and Right Wing terrorists have only killed 5 since then, including Charlottesville. Meanwhile, the annual chance of being murdered by a Left Wing terrorist was about 1 in 400 million per year. Regardless of the recent upswing in deaths from Left Wing terrorism since 2016, Nationalist and Right Wing terrorists have killed about 12 times as many people since 1992. Terrorists with unknown or other motivations were the least deadly.

    The Southern Poverty Law Center’s analysis of murder by extremists (a broader category than terrorism)

    Over the past 10 years (2007-2016), domestic extremists of all kinds have killed at least 372 people in the United States. Of those deaths, approximately 74% were at the hands of right-wing extremists, about 24% of the victims were killed by domestic Islamic extremists, and the remainder were killed by left-wing extremists.

    The uptick in leftwing violence in 2016 is worrying, but it is being addressed by leaders on the left and scrutinized by the press. The left should absolutely keep criticizing and policing itself. But, it is by no means equivalent to the alt-right Nazi/KKK ideology on display on the right.

  18. 18
    Mookie says:

    Here’s another endorsement (a two-fer, Daily Caller and Fox [Entertainment] ‘News’) from the right of running cars over left-wing protesters. Again, this is about terrorizing and intimidating left-wing protesters. gin-and-whiskey, just a heads-up because I think it’s rude to ignore you: I won’t be responding to anything you write here on this subject because you are not pointedly and ostentatiously failing to acknowledge that, and therefore no dialogue between us will be fruitful. Cheers.

  19. 19
    Mookie says:

    Given this talk of permits and how the lack of them makes protesters good fodder for cars to eat them, it’s probably a good idea to highlight the fact that multiple permits were issued from Charlottesville over the weekend. Unite the Right were initially permitted for Emancipation Park and Kessler resisted city requests to re-locate further away from the mall and potentially large weekend crowds to McIntire Park, a larger venue, and ultimately sued to retain the right to stage events at the original location. Counter-protesters were permitted for McGuffey and Justice Parks.

  20. 20
    Jake Squid says:

    As someone who has accidentally run over pedestrians, I don’t think somebody who runs over pedestrians at a protest should be immune to civil suits.

    Also, speaking as somebody who has run over pedestrians, if you don’t feel terrible about it, no matter how little fault you think was yours, and are thankful to being immune from civil suits, you’re a pretty nasty person and I would prefer not to spend time around you. As an extension to that, I think that people who advocate for laws shielding drivers who run over pedestrians from civil suits are either pretty nasty people, don’t understand what cars, even at low speeds, can do to human bodies or haven’t really thought out the ramifications of their advocacy.

    In short, don’t run over pedestrians or you’ll feel terrible. If you’re not a sociopath.

  21. 21
    desipis says:

    One one hand, as someone who values law and order, I don’t think we should legally be enabling people to run over others with their car. Drivers should just be patient and wait for the authorities.

    On the other hand, having seen both the terror these mobs cause and the inability of the authorities to stop it, it seems like some sort of self-help remedies might be appropriate. If a mob is giving someone the choice of being unlawfully detained in a state of fear or using potentially lethal force to escape, then I can see an argument for legally permitting the minimal amount of harm to escape, lethal or not. It also seems like a few broken legs and skulls might be more efficient than fines and jail at discouraging such reckless and wanton mobs.

  22. 22
    desipis says:

    The uptick in leftwing violence in 2016 is worrying, but it is being addressed by leaders on the left and scrutinized by the press.

    Bullshit. The press, particularly the left-leaning press, actively supports left-wing violence.

  23. 23
    Ampersand says:

    It also seems like a few broken legs and skulls might be more efficient than fines and jail at discouraging such reckless and wanton mobs.

    Can you really not understand why chirping merrily on about how useful and positive it is to run over left wing protesters is incredibly gross right now?

    You’ve posted some things I’ve found useful over the years, and you seem to generally grok the “being civil” thing, which is why I’m not banning you from “Alas.” Also because I’m really pissed at you right now, and I try to avoid deciding things in anger.

    But don’t post on this thread at all anymore, for any reason whatsoever. Don’t post about Charlottesville, either directly or indirectly (for instance, by defending the utility of running down protesters), anywhere on this blog ever. Just stop it.

  24. 24
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Self defense laws vary enormously in how they apportion liability and proof; they affect criminal law. All of those laws have tradeoffs, some bad. But no matter what the tradeoffs are, none of those laws are intended to apply to the subset of horrible people who intentionally kill folks.

    Similarly, some states have looser or stricter laws which apportion civil liability between parties, based on circumstances. All of those laws have tradeoffs, some bad. But no matter what the tradeoffs are, none of those laws are intended to apply to the subset of horrible people who intentionally kill folks.

    This particular law has tradeoffs as well. It may be that the tradeoffs are bad. But there’s nothing to suggest that these tradeoffs in this law, or the language of this law, had anything to do with the fact that this horrible dude tried to kill people.

    Jake Squid says:
    August 15, 2017 at 8:06 pm
    As an extension to that, I think that people who advocate for laws shielding drivers who run over pedestrians from civil suits are either pretty nasty people, don’t understand what cars, even at low speeds, can do to human bodies or haven’t really thought out the ramifications of their advocacy.

    I think we should have and discuss self-defense laws, even though I don’t like it when people get killed and I would prefer that people not get killed.

    Similarly, I think we should have and discuss laws which apportion civil liability for harm, even though I don’t like it when people get harmed and I would prefer that people not get harmed.

    I am not intimately familiar with the NC laws (I’m not a NC lawyer) and I don’t know if I would eventually support or oppose this particular law. I am always open to discussing incentives created by laws, but in this case it seems quite clear that the murder was an horrible and fully intentional act. It seems that wouldn’t be affected by this law and so it seems quite clear that we shouldn’t use that murder to attack this law.

    I’m sorry if you are unable to make those distinctions. However, they are common distinctions and are neither nasty nor sociopathic.

  25. 25
    Ampersand says:

    I’d do the same. If such a mob attempted to stop me I’d consider my life in danger and act accordingly.

    A Nazi leader in this video (at 20:00) makes the exact same argument to justify the murder of Heather Heyer.

    The truth is, no one died in the protest where Glenn Reynolds was saying “run them down.” No one was injured. No one was even threatened, as far as I can find. Being surrounded is not the same as being threatened with deadly violence; the drivers in this video (who were “attacked,” according to the pro-Trump person who posted the video) were never in danger, despite their cars being surrounded, and if they had run the protesters down they would be murderers. But also, if they HAD run the protesters down, plenty of people on the right would say it was justified self-defense.

    For right-wingers to paint all protests as reason for hysteria and fear, and claim that such protests are a deadly threat to life and limb and drivers have no choice but to run the protesters down, is encouraging deadly violence.

  26. 26
    Sebastian H says:

    I can imagine some situations where a person’s car was surrounded AND they were gravely threatened with the possibility of death or serious injury such that they reasonably feared for their lives. In such a situation gunning the car to get away wouldn’t be illegal.

    But that doesn’t apply in the Charlottesville case at all. In almost all states the fear for your life has to be reasonable. Only cops get away with having an unreasonable fear for their lives as an excuse. And frankly I’d much rather strip that from them, rather than extend that exception to anyone else.

    Also, I’m confused about the factual status of the claims regarding Charlottesville. My impression was not that he was caught in the anti-nazi protestors, but that he drove there intentionally. But I’m not really sure. Are there any clear reports?

  27. 27
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Say that some Muslim woman in a head scarf had taken a wrong turn and ended up surrounded by a large group of Nazis that had taken over the streets. Nazis surrounded her car and banged on her windows and threw stuff and shouted stuff and wouldn’t let her leave. There were no police or other folks around to help.

    That is in fact a dangerous situation; she would be terrified for good reason IMO. She is not required to think “I am sure these folks and everyone who might show up are in the nonviolent subset of Nazis; I’m sure they’ll go back to their hot dog shops soon; the statistical odds are in my favor that I will survive this; there’s nothing to worry about.” She is not required to play the odds, sit, and wait to see if they let her go–or until it escalates and they execute a more violent assault.

    Rather, she is allowed to protect herself if she wants. She shouldn’t floor it and attempt to kill as many of them as she could, but if she uses a slow forward speed and forces them to move out of the way she would be justified in doing so even if someone was injured as a result, IMO.

    If she does her best to minimize injury within the scope of running away, then I don’t think the remaining injuries are her fault. I don’t think she should have to risk losing her house to pay for the surgery of the man that was pounding on her hood, whose leg was broken when he successfully scared her enough to run away. I don’t think she should have to spend $25,000 she doesn’t have, maybe losing the house anyway, on a defense. I don’t think she should have to accept thousands of dollars in car damage which she might not be able to afford. I don’t think she should be put in jail or lose her job.

    Basically, I don’t think that it’s her fault that a bunch of Nazis decided to surround, harass, terrify, and threaten her. I think it’s the Nazis’ fault. And therefore I don’t want that blame being pushed onto her.

    Do you all want her prosecuted/sued/etc?

  28. 29
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Do you all want her prosecuted/sued/etc?

    This was not a rhetorical question, BTW. Jake, you want to think out the ramifications of advocacy; what’s your take?

    The obvious followup question should be answered as well:

    Replace the driver with a conservative-looking Trump supporter in a MAGA hat; replace the Nazis with antifa. Did your “what should happen” result change?

    As for me, I feel much better about protecting people from Nazis than I do about protecting Nazis, just like I feel much better about protecting the right to have a peace march than I do about protecting the right to have a Nazi march. But nonetheless, my result does not change.

  29. 30
    Kate says:

    Replace the driver with a conservative-looking Trump supporter in a MAGA hat; replace the Nazis with antifa. Did your “what should happen” result change?

    The person who ran down Heather Hayer was in no danger. That is a lie being peddled by Nazis and KKK members, as anyone who watches the video can see.

    From Lawyers, Guns and Money:

    Rather than get drawn into an argument with the inevitable “whataboutery,” perhaps we repeat again, and again, and again, for however long it takes, that these groups are violent authoritarian thugs, that they celebrate a past filled with genocide and brutality against groups they despise, and that they tell endless lies. They lie about Jewish people, they lie about the Confederacy, they lie about their own superiority. They lie about women, about gays, and about Catholics. They invent falsehoods about any group or individual that challenges their hierarchical worldview. We should be asking, loudly and frequently, what reason is there to give these groups, their members, or their leaders any credibility whatsoever?

    I suggest you click through and read the whole thing.

  30. 31
    Harlequin says:

    If she does her best to minimize injury within the scope of running away, then I don’t think the remaining injuries are her fault. I don’t think she should have to risk losing her house to pay for the surgery of the man that was pounding on her hood, whose leg was broken when he successfully scared her enough to run away. I don’t think she should have to spend $25,000 she doesn’t have, maybe losing the house anyway, on a defense. I don’t think she should have to accept thousands of dollars in car damage which she might not be able to afford. I don’t think she should be put in jail or lose her job.

    Basically, I don’t think that it’s her fault that a bunch of Nazis decided to surround, harass, terrify, and threaten her. I think it’s the Nazis’ fault. And therefore I don’t want that blame being pushed onto her.

    Do you all want her prosecuted/sued/etc?

    A couple of questions in return:

    Do you think our current laws are insufficient to this situation as far as criminal and/or civil law is concerned?
    To the extent that civil law is insufficient,
    do you think we should guard everyone against lawsuits they could defend and win against, but whose defense would cause them financial hardship? If so, should we enumerate every single situation under which this could occur, or would it be better to make a general law?

    My answers are probably clear in those questions, which are basically, “That situation would suck, but I think these proposed laws are not motivated out of concern for self defense that is both honest and reasonable; I do not think there is a unique danger here we must enumerate separately from our existing civil and self-defense laws.” (I am not psychic and don’t know if the people proposing these laws are using them as a pretext or if the proposers are merely irrational/prejudiced.)

    I wish I could find the essay now, but I read something a few months ago (perhaps linked here) about how some political disagreements involve emotional dissonance. For example, here, I would expect these laws and the discussion around then to involve great sadness and concern: here are ordinary citizens in transit being credibly threatened by protestors; obviously we don’t want anyone to die, but sometimes injuries or even death may be sadly necessary to prevent further loss of innocent life; these protestors are a credible danger to everyone, not just those in cars. And some of that occurred. But I also saw a lot of joking and a lot of callousness focused on the satisfaction or dark humor of killing or injuring protestors, not on the supposedly life-endangering threat those protestors posed. (In addition to the public figures we’ve mentioned here, cartoon memes were circulating in the conservative social media sphere pretty frequently on this topic.) In other words, I saw very little actual fear, and a lot of anger and hatred. Perhaps I witnessed a non-representative subset; but it was certainly possible to witness this idea circulate as a revenge fantasy against the hated liberals rather than a fear for the advocates’ life. (I will also note that the fear of liberal protestors is, IMO, wildly out of sync with the actual dangers posed–in comparison to your example of a Muslim woman threatened by Nazis. Though I am of course biased.)

    And so–while the proposed laws wouldn’t apply to this protestor, I don’t think you can disentangle “lots of people seem to think running over protestors is not just a sad necessity but something the protestors deserve and an action which should be protected” from the events, either.

    As Amp said above, that doesn’t mean that absent this rhetoric Fields wouldn’t have picked a different murder method. But that doesn’t make these laws, or people advocating for these laws, an okay idea.

  31. 32
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Kate: Want to try to actually answer? I concede that none of the options are good.

    If you apply a single objective rule (as I do) then at some point you’re going to end up with a factual outcome you despise . That’s what I did; I think it’s the best approach overall though I dislike having to admit a situation where it might benefit Nazis. Still, that’s how rules work.

    If you apply a different rule based on who you like better, you lose any real ability to predict what the law is and who the law will/won’t help. You can certainly take this view if you want. I don’t.

    Which one do you choose?

    Harlequin says:
    August 17, 2017 at 4:24 pm
    A couple of questions in return:

    That seems unfair, since you refused to answer the questions I asked. You’re usually not one to duck an issue, so please consider trying again. Since we usually don’t have this problem, I’ll assume you’ll get back to directness; I’ll even answer yours. Please respond to mine.

    Do you think our current laws are insufficient to this situation as far as criminal and/or civil law is concerned?

    I don’t know them all by any means, but for the ones I know: No. The crucial word is “insufficient.” Insufficiency to me means that something requires a change. There’s a large gray area of acceptable tradeoffs and the laws I know fall within that gray area.

    However, the new NC law also seems like it might be in the gray area (I reaeeeally don’t know NC law.) So if you had started with the new NC law as a baseline, and asked me whether that law was “insufficient”, requiring us to change back to the old law, I would also have said no.

    To the extent that civil law is insufficient, do you think we should guard everyone against lawsuits they could defend and win against, but whose defense would cause them financial hardship?

    This is an immensely complex question which I and other lawyers struggle with constantly. It’s also an issue on which reasonable minds come to very different conclusions; compare, for example, the American Rule and the English Rule for how to apportion litigation costs.

    My feeling is that we are, again, within the gray area of acceptability; I like the American Rule though I am probably biased. I am aware of many of its issues and I think there is room to move within that area, perhaps to try to balance some unfair outcomes. Still, your question is very general and sweeping, i.e. “everyone,” so I would say “no.”

    If so, should we enumerate every single situation under which this could occur, or would it be better to make a general law?

    It’s far better IMO in the majority of cases to try to make it more granular. The more general you get the more likely you are to lose clarity and get unwanted results. Also the more clarity you have the more that people are able to use the laws to guide behavior, which is generally a good thing. That is the reason why we have lots of laws, instead of a single one saying “All Bad Acts Will Be Punished Accordingly.” You can get overly granular of course but I don’t think this is such a case.

    And so–while the proposed laws wouldn’t apply to this protestor, I don’t think you can disentangle “lots of people seem to think running over protestors is not just a sad necessity but something the protestors deserve and an action which should be protected” from the events, either.

    I’m sorry you can’t disentangle laws from a single incident. I can; I do; I always will.

    It is NEVER a good idea to make a wide ranging public law decision based on a single incident. If you discuss a law–which is a general thing–then you are morally obliged to think generally. That is the only way to avoid really shitty laws.

    The law is the law. My opinions don’t matter. That is why, for example, I routinely take on clients who are here illegally, often low bono or pro bono, and I win their cases almost all the time, even though I am personally not in favor of illegal immigration. They are my clients and I will win for them; I will protect them; and I will use the law on their behalf. That is why, as a Jew, I would support the right of Nazis to march even though I despise them. That is why I often win a tenant’s motion for fees under a punitive statute while simultaneously thinking that the statute is too strict.

    But that doesn’t make these laws, or people advocating for these laws, an okay idea.

    [Shrug] I’m on mod, so I am essentially obliged to absorb all these types of insults without responding in kind. So if you think I’m a bad person for making those distinctions, I guess we won’t be inviting each other to as many parties as we did last month. Oh well.

  32. 33
    Harlequin says:

    Hm. I see I had some problems with clarity in my last comment.

    That seems unfair, since you refused to answer the questions I asked.

    I intended my answers to be given by the paragraph starting “My answers are probably clear in those questions”, but to expand on that: 1. we’ve got self-defense laws already and I think people in danger in cars definitely should be able to try to get themselves out of the situation even if it results in people getting injured or even killed, under the usual self-defense legal considerations in that jurisdiction, so no I don’t think such a person should be prosecuted, and if they are I think they should claim self-defense. 2. I don’t want those people to suffer financial hardship due to lawsuits if the actions were genuinely self-defense, but I tend to err on the side of allowing lawsuits because IMO granting people immunity for certain actions also leads to problems and I’d rather let an adversarial legal system do its job and sort it out (which is not perfect, but I think still preferable to the other options).

    Also, again, I do not think this issue is widespread or pressing enough to need special legal attention, and I do not trust the reasoning of the lawmakers who have proposed the laws. Basically, while I think our current system is flawed (as all human systems are), I do not see anything that addresses those flaws in a law preventing lawsuits against people who hit protesters with their cars.

    I’m sorry you can’t disentangle laws from a single incident. I can; I do; I always will.

    It is NEVER a good idea to make a wide ranging public law decision based on a single incident. If you discuss a law–which is a general thing–then you are morally obliged to think generally. That is the only way to avoid really shitty laws.

    Oh, I agree. But it’s not like I thought these laws were a great idea until Charlottesville happened. I thought they were terrible–for all the reasons in this and my previous comment–and I think the rhetoric surrounding them had a (small) causal impact on what Fields did and how he did it, though again, he might well have still killed or tried to kill protesters without it. That’s the causal direction (proposed law -> single incident) that I was discussing, not single incident -> proposed law; people do respond to the rhetorical environment they live in.

    But that doesn’t make these laws, or people advocating for these laws, an okay idea.

    I meant advocating in the sense of “trying to get them passed”, not in the sense of “discussing whether or not they’re a good idea on the Internet”–not at all directed at you.

  33. 34
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    I meant advocating in the sense of “trying to get them passed”, not in the sense of “discussing whether or not they’re a good idea on the Internet”–not at all directed at you.

    Ah. Thank you for clarifying; I am sorry about the misunderstanding on my part.

  34. 35
    Kate says:

    Kate: Want to try to actually answer? I concede that none of the options are good.

    No, I really don’t want to answer the question in the context of the present discussion.* Presently, lying Nazis and Klansmen are asserting that Heather Hayer’s attacker was justified and acting in self desfense. Discussing whether or not a Nazi surrounded by Antifa protesters (or the like) has a right to run over those protesters in this context is conceding that those lying Nazis and Klanmen have a point worth discussing. They do not. They are lying.

    *But, for the record and to move on, it is roughly what Harlequin said.

  35. 36
    Elusis says:

    Harlequin – I think you’re referring to the idea of the “missing mood,” which I read and liked as well. I feel like this essay is not the one I remember reading, but it’s the one I could easily find with Google. It’s bugging me that I can’t seem to find the one I remember.

  36. 37
    Harlequin says:

    Ah yes, Elusis, thank you! I can’t tell if that was the essay I read on it or not, but either way, very helpful.

  37. 38
    RonF says:

    Amp:

    A Nazi leader in this video (at 20:00) makes the exact same argument to justify the murder of Heather Heyer.

    The fact that he claims that the killer had to do what he did to defend himself to justify her murder doesn’t mean that doing that to defend yourself is invalid. It just means that he’s lying.

    Kate:

    Presently, lying Nazis and Klansmen are asserting that Heather Hayer’s attacker was justified and acting in self desfense.

    As far as I can tell you’re right. From everything I’ve seen this was not self-defense, it was murder.

  38. 39
    RonF says:

    Amp:

    The truth is, no one died in the protest where Glenn Reynolds was saying “run them down.” No one was injured.

    That doesn’t mean no one was threatened.

    No one was even threatened, as far as I can find. Being surrounded is not the same as being threatened with deadly violence; the drivers in this video (who were “attacked,” according to the pro-Trump person who posted the video) were never in danger, despite their cars being surrounded, and if they had run the protesters down they would be murderers.

    I watched the video. You are right to say that the driver was not attacked. But not threatened? If that was me in that car I would have been scared shitless. Surrounded by a crowd of what got to be at least 10 people, some of whom were clearly hostile to me and some of whom were masked to boot? No one was threatened? I would definitely have felt threatened by that crowd. Not to mention when that kid who started yelling at the driver when that person walked in front of the car and fell on it.

    If that had been me, out of fear that someone would stick their hand or a knife or a club or tear gas into my window it would have been closed and my doors locked. Understand that I have been assaulted through the open window of my car before; I was struck in the head and my clothing torn (in an attempt to grab me and pull me out of the car) in a gas station parking lot when I asked someone to move their car so I could get to the air hose. I wouldn’t have said one word to that group. I would have looked behind me and tried to back away or turn around, and that does appear to have been an option in that case. But if the situation had gone differently than presented in that video and that course of action was blocked off I’d have moved forward – slowly at first to give people a chance to get out of the way.

  39. 40
    Kate says:

    Ron, we also keep saying is that the law already covers situations like the ones you describe @39. I would have no problem with anyone of any political persuasion acting in the manner you describe. Can you link to people who have been prosecuted for running people over in situations like that? Any incident that could explain why these laws are being proposed now?
    Because, my understanding is that they were inititally in response to protests that stopped traffic, but did not actually involve threatening anyone, like at Standing Rock. Running people over because you’re inconvienced by their protest is not o.k.. The fear is that these new laws will function essentilly like stand your ground laws. Running people over when they block your car would become legal as long as you claim you were afraid. That is a very real possibility. And the history of laws like that is that enforcement is very racially biased.

  40. 41
    Pret says:

    “And the history of laws like that is that enforcement is very racially biased.”

    Kate, if you could provide a link substantiating this claim (I didn’t even know there were analyses of “laws like that”!), it would really be super.

  41. 42
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Kate says:
    Any incident that could explain why these laws are being proposed now?

    Of course.

    When folks rioted and caused significant property damage in Ferguson and other areas, for example, that made people concerned that those same groups would cause violence elsewhere. Riots and looting and burning are very scary to most folks. Other groups such as antifa also began to take prominence and obviously they are also associated with uncontrolled violence and they’re a scary group.

    And right around that same time, those groups (who were believed to be associated with rioting and violence) specifically started blocking traffic as a means of protest, including major highways such as I-95.

    It’s always been the case that an occasional march would interfere with traffic. So long as the marchers are peaceful and nonthreatening then folks have rolled with it. That is also because the blocking is ancillary (they’re just trying to get somewhere) and so it will pass.

    But more recent events were different. The groups were angrier and were intentionally going after the public to force a confrontation. If you’re stuck in your car while a marching band walks by, you’re only inconvenienced. But if you’re right next to a mob of folks (some wearing masks) who are angry and worked up and who appear to be hostile to your interests, and who are similar to other groups that were recently violent… well, that would be quite a bit more upsetting. Also, the manner in which that was done (i-95, for example) vastly increased the probability of a protester getting hit.

    I expect that is why the laws were passed.

  42. 43
    Kate says:

    There’s this Florida study, for starters.

  43. 44
    Harlequin says:

    I expect that is why the laws were passed.

    None of them have yet been passed–only proposed and, in some cases, voted on, and in North Carolina, passed in one chamber of the state legislature but not the other.

  44. 45
    Pret says:

    Kate,

    Thanks for the link. I’ll take a look at it.

  45. 46
    Kate says:

    I just saw this today as well. I haven’t read the background research, but I generally find Lawyers, Guns and Money to be a reliable source.

  46. 47
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Kate says:
    August 24, 2017 at 12:30 am
    I just saw this today as well. I haven’t read the background research

    The main good study was done in 1983. Although it’s getting a bit long in the tooth it’s highly relevant and serves as an example of how to do this really well. Unlike the Marshall study (which fails to control for the most important stuff) the 1983 study really drills down into the data.

    They also cite a Marshall Project study, which I don’t like as much: Mainly the Marshall study is not really controlling for a lot of variables, and so it is much less useful. (To use an analogy: the Marshall study is a bit like the claim that ‘women make 75% of salary’: true, but not really helpful to solve the problem)

    Basically, as noted in the LGM comments (see around page 710) the race of the victim made most of the difference.

    IOW, there wasn’t all that much difference between black>black and white>black rates (black victims); nor was there much difference between black>white and white>white rates (white victims). There was a huge difference between >black and >white rates.

    I do not recall whether they also did controls for other victim characteristics beyond race, but I don’t think so. This is a big deal because victim “appeal” is a huge variable, and because victims vary considerably with respect to family status, wealth, education, employment, and criminal activity. If you really want to fix things you should know how adding those controls would increase or decrease the disparity.

    IOW, how much of the disparity is
    “black victims are worth less because they’re black”
    and how much is
    “victims are worth more when they are rich, married, and employed; when they lack any criminal record or bad acts; when they possess the social support, education, and knowledge to contact the AG and push for the death penalty; when they have a lot of relatively-powerful people speak about how valuable they were; and when they can hire a private attorney to push for a victim impact statement. Due to a variety of factors of which racism is a huge one, most of the people who satisfy those criteria are white.”

    This is important information because it affects the solution.

  47. 48
    Michael says:

    @Kate#46- It’s complicated. The statistic is accurate but as this makes clear, it might not be the whole story:
    https://www.vox.com/identities/2017/8/21/16179058/homicide-justifiable-black-white-race
    “It’s also possible that the findings aren’t explained solely by racism. The Marshall Project points to another study: “If, for instance, white-on-black homicides were mainly defensive shootings in a residence or business, and black-on-white shootings mainly occurred during the commission of a street crime, then the [racial] disparity would be warranted,” researcher John Roman wrote in a 2013 Urban Institute study of justifiable homicides.”
    What we need is more information- for example, the locations of the homicides.

  48. 49
    Elusis says:

    So there’s a new tactic at play with the white supremacists, apparently: Announce an event, then later cancel it and claim “credible threats of violence.” That way, you can continue to advance your narrative of being the REAL victims and contribute to the shibboleth of a “violent alt-left” without having to leave the comfort of your home.

    http://www.rawstory.com/2017/08/alt-right-cancels-california-book-burning-of-degenerate-literature-after-organizer-says-he-fears-liberals/

    http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Organizers-cancel-Saturday-s-far-right-rally-in-11961550.php

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/act-for-america-rallies-move-online-after-charlottesville

    I think we should call them “Potemkin victims.”

    * The SF event has been “changed to a press conference” at Alamo Square, which will feature all the same speakers but not be subject to the weapons ban and safety checkpoints as Crissy Field, which was going to be completely gated off, with all access controlled to one place with intensive searches for banned items. So who’s spoiling for violence?

  49. 50
    Mookie says:

    Here are some screenshots of white nationalists intending to attend the Charlottesville event discussing the use of cars as weapons against counter-protesters while citing the proposed North Carolina law. Wired has more about the origin and distribution of these chat logs and screenshots.

  50. 51
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    New York mayor considers Christopher Columbus statue removal

    If anything signifies the Civil War and Nazi Germany, it is Christopher Columbus.

  51. 52
    Mookie says:

    If anything signifies the Civil War and Nazi Germany, it is Christopher Columbus.

    ??

    Even opponents of the statue’s proposed removal acknowledge that to do so would be because of its associations with “slavery and racism:”

    But his rival Democrat Sal Albanese, echoing Trump, warned that the city was on a “slippery slope” by taking on Columbus. “He said Confederate statues that were reminders of slavery and racism deserved to be banned, but do we remove statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson?”

    Not a single person quoted in your link implicitly or explicitly makes the connection you say they’re making. Opponents of the removal mention Italian-American heritage and history and proponents mention slavery, pillaging, empire, and genocide.

    That Nazis, for example, are designated racist does not mean all racism manifests as Naziism. Slavery is not a uniquely American phenomenon, and that countries that historically used slavery do not have iconography devoted to commemorating slavery proves that history is not erased when a statue is removed, or, indeed, never erected to begin with.

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