Miss Constitution listened to Congresswoman Cori Bush say that a riot at a St. Louis jail that injured an officer and did major damage to the facility, is really the “language of the unheard”, a phrase she attributed to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The language of the unheard? Ms. Bush seems to be implying that setting the jail on fire and attacking at least one guard is symbolic political speech that would be protected from punishment by the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution. For example, burning the American flag is deemed symbolic political speech by the Supreme Court and is a protected behavior. We see the flag burned regularly at Antifa and Black Lives Matter protests. During the Vietnam War, wearing a black armband as a statement of opposition was deemed by the Supreme Court to be symbolic political speech for public (tax-supported) school students and therefore behavior no school principal could ban. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley asserted recently that as long as there is unrest in the society there will be unrest in the street. The Constitutional question becomes, when does BEHAVIOR that would ordinarily be illegal become Constitutionally acceptable SPEECH?
Miss Constitution is going to tell two different stories both of which go to this issue.
After the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, shown face down in the street on television with the knee of a white officer on his neck, riots broke out in a number of cities against police brutality relative to the black community and particularly relative to young black males. The Medical Examiner found lethal levels of fentanyl in his body along with heart issues and a private autopsy by the family found asphyxiation the primary cause of death, but it was the image of the knee on the neck that aroused the whole nation. Black Lives Matter sprang into action and along with Antifa, an anarchist organization opposed to all government, riots, arson, attacks, beatings, looting, lawlessness, and other criminal behaviors were tolerated in the name of the language of the unheard and racial justice. Unrelated to George Floyd, a number of policemen and policewomen of different ethnicities and different locations were shot in cold blood for simply being on the police force. Efforts are underway in many localities to de-fund the police and re-imagine law enforcement as a type of social work even in the most dangerous environments. Much of the country, white and black alike, felt some sympathy and some urgency regarding issues of racial justice. Tolerance for illegal and destructive acts can be noted in many city councils, Mayoral and Governors’ offices. Autonomous zones cropped up in some cities many of which devolved into filthy and debauched entities. It was recognized that black families have suffered under Congressional actions that highlighted those behaviors common to urban America but let the connected white financial criminal or the connected political criminal go uncharged and unpunished.
After Donald Trump won the Presidential election in 2016, calls were made to immediately impeach him and to resist his Presidency before he had even taken the Oath of Office. The Department of Justice’s Inspector General found later that senior members of the FBI had conspired to falsify documents submitted to a secret court so that his campaign, his person, his family, his appointees, his campaign staff, and anyone surrounding him or involved with him could be spied upon, in contravention of the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution, under the assumption that he conspired to win the election with foreign-agent help. Several persons who served the President were targeted and harassed illegally. The abuse continued his entire term. He was investigated by a Special Counsel regarding being an agent of Russia and was found innocent of such a charge; he was insulted personally by elected Representatives and Senators; much of the press called him unthinkable names and has, since January 6, accused him of murder and incitement to insurrection. Some commentators on MSNBC have called for a drone strike to kill him. An acclaimed actor called for his assassination. Through it all President Trump managed, among many other things, to negotiate new trade agreements that bolstered American manufacturing lost to China; he re-built a decimated military into a modern force, an entity that provides a pathway of success for many lower middle class Americans and others; he set up enterprise zones in black communities; and he supported private sector unions in their longing to make things in America again and revitalize the rusted-out cities of our nation. He connected with blue collar workers all over the country who felt abandoned by Republicans and Democrats as unimportant to politicians’ ambitions and pocketbooks. Members of both Parties reviled him. He connected to the hard-working of all races and backgrounds and those who felt a sense of pride in their country, their flag, and their Constitution. These are the unheard, also, and their rallies and cries and pleas are also the language of that unheard.