Honorable Civil Disobedience

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Having seen over the years protesters engaged in voicing their grievances in fashions ranging from the peaceful to the violent, I believe it is incumbent to provide a guidelines in the hope of furthering a cause without the distractions that spill over into not only silencing important messages but preventing consequences that hurt others.

I propose the idea of Honorable Civil Disobedience.

I must first state that these guidelines do not constitute legal advice or the need to foster discord. Such actions might result in arrest or civil implications. And while I do not encourage law breaking, for those who choose to engage in this strategy there are ways to go about such acts to minimize its negative effects. Every individual should gauge the cost-benefit of their own actions and the wider costs that can lead to others behaving badly.

What is noteworthy is that history shows more often than not that those who refuse to engage in violence or property damage succeed in establishing a legacy that associates their names with social movements having a positive change. Well known figures such as Dr. King, Rosa Parks, Thoreau, and Gandhi are some of the most memorable and effective. Those who choose to engage in civil disobedience should follow an honor code to be effective.

Here are just a few of such examples.

It is important to recognize that the police are not the enemy of the cause. They are merely civil servants and generally do not make policy. The police who are assigned to the area of a demonstration are there to secure the peace and most always simply want to do their jobs and go home. They should be given a measure of respect, else they are likely to react unfavorably to everyone’s position.

There are those who in the furtherance of the visibility of their grievance choose to be arrested, typically for minor offenses such as trespass. This not only draws the attention of the media but conveys that their grievance is of such importance to them, they are willing to sacrifice a degree of freedom as a gesture in conveying their resolve.

The sit-in is a classic example of this. The sit-in is designed to result in a minor disruption of the target of the protest. Police will declare a protest to be unlawful and issue a warning of impending arrest to those who do not vacate a premises.

Active resistance to the police in a sit is not Honorable: that is, struggling in resisting arrest and engaging in tumultuous behavior. Again, the police do not set policy and are not the enemy. It is better if one chooses a course of action that will lead to an arrest to not fight the police or members of the public. Instead some suggestions I propose to foster Honorable Civil Disobedience are as follows:

  • Stand up and submit to the arrest. Allow the cameras to photograph the event for the news. Your credibility before your intended audience will elicit more sympathy or identification with you and your message.
  • The police will follow procedures that require all arrestees to be handcuffed. Passive suspects will be cuffed in a manner that is less uncomfortable. Otherwise, the cuffs might not be double-locked and could result in tightening of the cuffs. This can be painful. Further, even more restrictive security measures might be enforced against you.
  • Bring only what is necessary to identify you during the issuance of a citation or a custodial arrest and in the latter case, a nominal amount of cash to arrange for bail or pay a fine if that is your intent. Do not bring weapons or contraband to the protest. This can result in additional charges that are outside the minimum level to get your message across, without distractions.
  • Do not voice contempt for the police by yelling, screaming, or playing the victim.
  • Do not shout profanity or encourage others to commit violence.
  • If you are passive in the arrest, you might have the opportunity to talk with reporters on your way to a jail van or patrol car. Being troublesome results in a quick march away from the scene and you will be blamed for causing your own arrest due to your dishonorable actions.
  • If a custodial mass arrest happens. Your group might be in and out of jail faster if you act Honorable. If you face a judge, what would you rather experience; a judge who views your actions simply as a benign act of civil disobedience or being labeled as the cause of a riot that caused damage and breech of the peace? In the former you might receive a token fine. The latter can lead to significant penalties levied by judge wanting to send strong rebuke that results in long period of incarceration and punitive fines.
  • Bring the minimal amount of items with you and be courteous and forthright in the process. This results in a more expeditious booking process and minimizes the time you might spend in custody
  • Show respect for those watching the events unfolding. Do not insult them or their intelligence. Focus on the message and do not attach to your demonstration unrelated matters that tend to dilute your voice.
  • Respect the property rights of nearby homes and businesses. They have nothing to do with your grievances. They do not deserve to pay for damage caused by you. It also ruins your credibility.
  • Inform the police of your intended act of civil disobedience so that they can arrange for containing the situation and also protect your right to protest. You will also take some of the edge away from a stressful incident and the police might be actually friendly to you. Remember, such a request also will allow for any emergency services such as fire or ambulance departments to continue their duties unabated. This also affords you with the ability to receive protection against counter-protesters who might not hold the same Code of Honor you possess.
  • If you so desire, contact various news outlets of your scheduled protest. State your desire to have a peaceful demonstration and be respectful and clear in informing them of your grievances. Allow them time to organize a team to cover the event. If you act with integrity you will control the message and they will be your messenger.
  • Appoint a respectful manager or leader who will act as an agent who represents your demonstration and cause. This will provide for a mechanism to organize the event, news, police services and prevent misunderstandings. You will also foster an image of professionalism.
  • Do not demonize the target of your grievance. It is important to offer a way for your opponent to save face if they decide to agree to your demands. If you give them no option to change their behavior they will simply dig in or dismiss you as simply an opportunist who chose them as a convenient target. Keep a door open even if you expect them never to acquiesce to your demands. That way you maintain a higher moral ground and if your Honorable actions win the hearts of your audience, they will look at your opponents with scorn for not listening or trying to change their ways.
  • Remember, as the old adage goes, “A man’s name is his reputation”. If you are inclined to peacefully demonstrate or act as a spokesperson in the future in advocating your cause, you will maintain your credibility by adhering to the tenets of Honorable Civil Disobedience.

I found in the below videos there is much to be said in how to properly and Honorably engage in civil disobedience. The actors held true to their message, arranged for reporters to hear grievances, and acted with dignity. They were met with great praise from observers and were very effective in drawing attention to their cause. They are a credit to what they hold dear.



And now for the fruits of Mr. Clooney and others’ Honorable Civil Disobedience. In playing the below video, there will be a link to view the video externally on YouTube. Click the link to view.


As you can see, the demonstrators accomplished receiving national attention to their cause and they were successful in that the media who also brought into their program images of the suffering resident in The Sudan, along with the imperative need to resolve the problems facing that nation. Consequently the demonstrators received a token fine of a hundred dollars and an immediate release from jail. Mr. Clooney left no doubt as to his resolve to sacrifice his freedom. Yet in actuality, he paid a rather small price–all things considered.

Let us now contrast Honorable Civil Disobedience with dishonorable and disruptive behavior by most of the actors shown in the below video.


What was the message the demonstrators were attempting to convey? Who knows. Do they even know? Look at the result: Armed police in riot gear and counter demonstrators fighting against them–a few of whom went so far as to display firearms to address what counter-protesters perceived to be the need to protect themselves from violence. Ordinary townspeople wanted the protesters run out of town and few had any sympathy for the demonstrators or their cause.

Nearly everything the original protesters did worked against their cause and garnered only contempt for them as individuals and their movement collectively. Suffice to say that in the minds of townspeople the protesters “got what they deserved” in being tossed to the ground and thrown in jail. Demonstrators represented an enemy, not kindred to those wanting justice in the world.

From now and surely in the future, every time this protest group shows up in a city to demonstrate, they will be regarded as pariahs unworthy of respect. The idea they conveyed focused on their actions and not their grievance. Nothing good came from their efforts.

So if I may so suggest, act with Honor in all things. Don’t hurt others and don’t become the evil you are advocating against. Take these tenets to heart and change the world for the better.

By Darren Smith

Video Sources: News2Share; Enough Project; The Telegraph; and ABC News

The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

84 thoughts on “Honorable Civil Disobedience”

  1. while people may not like the NSM idiots, they like the antifa even less. i ask myself, where do all these antifa counterprotesters come from? obviously they don’t have day jobs

    1. Mr Kurtz – I did hear through the grapevine that Antifa was being paid with Soros money. So I guess it is at least a part-time job.

  2. I agree. However what the Democrats are doing is NOT civil disobedience.
    It is Kristallnachting 2018 Style, and Whitey, Trump supporters and conservatives are the new Jews.

    1. the thing is, white folks are not a minority, as the jews were in germany in the 1930s. so that analogy is not apt. in most places where they are, they are a majority. so picking them for a fight is a really bad idea. those who want it, may not like how it all turns out

  3. Mr. Smith, since non-violent civil disobedience already is honorable civil disobedience, the guidelines that you have promulgated for honorable civil disobedience might be more aptly described as obedient civil disobedience. The question, then, would become whether non-violent protest must remain exclusively obedient or at least potentially disobedient. I will gladly concede that violent protest is obviously disobedient and almost certainly dishonorable under most circumstances and conditions. However, if you simply must insist upon civil obedience being the only honorable approach to civil disobedience, then I must conclude that your conceptions of honor, civility and obedience are identical in both connotation and denotation. Is there truly no way for anyone honorably and civilly to disobey Darren Smith?

  4. Good advice, Darren. I wish more people would voice their concerns peacefully and calmly. The trouble is that they literally believe everyone else is evil and unless they take violent action, everyone’s going to die. It’s quite a state to exist in.

    Your comments about a sit in reminded me of one of my father’s stories as a military officer. He was walking with a General during the Vietnam War. Was it in front of the Pentagon? There was a “die-in” where a bunch of hippies were strewn everywhere. My father and another officer were struggling to tip toe through all the people to get to the other side when they realized the General had continued the conversation and merely strode forward as if all the hippies weren’t even there. He barked at them to keep up, and then marched forward, stepping on hands, toes, stomaches…whatever, like so many dirt clods. My father said that the General was making decisions that meant life or death for real young people serving in the war. The responsibility was enormous, and he had no inclination to humor any of these political activists in the safety of America handing out flowerers while the men he was responsible for were in danger.

    I actually had my own encounter with riot police when I was in college. I went over to check out what was going on in a demonstration. People started to get angry, and started pushing and shoving really hard from behind me, trying to get through the line of cops. Police had their riot gear on, and they were pushing people back with their shields, so I was getting squished and in danger of going down. I wriggled my way to the front and told one of the cops that I didn’t want to be there and wanted to leave. He took my hand and, without taking his eyes off the crowd, handed me down the line of cops, each one keeping a hold of me, until I was out the side. So…even during the middle of an angry crowd, they were still looking out for the students.

    1. I also think that most injuries or deaths of people interacting with police would be prevented if they just followed instructions, and then took up their complain later with the watch commander or an IA. Do they honestly think that yelling, fighting, and resisting is going to make any police officer stop and say, you know, you do have a point, I’ll let you go!

      1. I watched one of the short clips of George Clooney, and thought he handled himself with class and remained calm. And his maneuver certainly did bring attention to the plight of the Sudanese. Those poor people in that entire region have suffered so much.

      1. From the link above about The Bonus March:

        Many Americans were outraged.

        How could the army treat veterans of the Great War with such disrespect? Hoover maintained that political agitators, anarchists, and communists dominated the mob. But facts contradict his claims. Nine out of ten Bonus Marchers were indeed veterans, and 20% were disabled. Despite the fact that the Bonus Army was the largest march on Washington up to that point in history, Hoover and MacArthur clearly overestimated the threat posed to national security. As Hoover campaigned for reelection that summer, his actions turned an already sour public opinion of him even further bottomward.

        America sank deeper in Depression.

  5. The American Founders gave the American People the only thing they actually could: Freedom.

    The sensible alternative to breaking the law would be to engage in the singular imperative in conditions of freedom; Self-Reliance.

    All Americans are free to get a job or open a business and take care of themselves and their families.

    Demanding “free stuff” from other people’s money and elevated “social status” is simply not in the American thesis or Constitution.

    Congress has the power to tax merely for “…general Welfare” not individual welfare while private property rights preclude all social

    engineering including “Affirmative Action Privilege,” quotas, fair housing, non-discrimination, forced busing, etc.

    Charity per the Communist Manifesto is redistribution of wealth.

    Charity under the Constitution is industry conducted in the competitive free markets of the private sector.

    People must adapt to the outcomes of freedom.

    Freedom does not adapt to People…

    dictatorship does.

    1. More about The Bonus March in re George’s claim that “Freedom does not adapt to people . . . dictatorship does.”

      The Bonus Army conducted itself with decorum and spent their vigil unarmed.

      However, many believed them a threat to national security. On July 28, Washington police began to clear the demonstrators out of the capital. Two men were killed as tear gas and bayonets assailed the Bonus Marchers. Fearing rising disorder, Hoover ordered an army regiment into the city, under the leadership of General Douglas MacArthur. The army, complete with infantry, cavalry, and tanks, rolled into Anacostia Flats forcing the Bonus Army to flee. MacArthur then ordered the shanty settlements burned.

  6. “The ‘relevant literature’ is what the American Friends Service Committee produces in the intervals where they’re not acting as press agents for Arab gangsters.”

    Do tell, TSTD.

  7. “the American Friends Service Committee produces in the intervals where they’re not acting as press agents for Arab gangsters.”

    You really are a piece of work, TSTD — who rarely if ever backs up the garbage he spews.

    1. Look at their bloody site, stupid. The American Friends Service Committee has a history of this which goes back to 1981 at least, perhaps earlier.

        1. Excerpted from the article linked above:

          “Some Jewish supporters of Israeli government policies have accused AFSC of having an anti-Jewish bias. In 1993, Jacob Neusner called the Committee ‘the most militant and aggressive of Christian anti-Israel groups.’

          The AFSC’s position on its web site is that it ‘supports the use of boycott and divestment campaigns targeting only companies that support the occupation, settlements, militarism, or any other violations of international humanitarian or human rights law. Our position does not call for a full boycott of Israel nor of companies because they are either Israeli or doing business in Israel. Our actions also never focus on individuals.'”

          The probable source of TSDS’ complaint against AFSC? So who is Jacob Neusner? Stay tuned.

            1. Selectively quoted from the link above:

              The most famous and biting criticism came from Neusner’s former teacher, Saul Lieberman, about Neusner’s translation of the Jerusalem Talmud. Lieberman wrote: “…one begins to doubt the credibility of the translator [Neusner]. And indeed after a superficial perusal of the translation, the reader is stunned by [Neusner’s] ignorance of Rabbinic Hebrew, of Aramaic grammar, and above all of the subject matter with which he deals.” He ended his review: “I conclude with a clear conscience: The right place for [Neusner’s] English translation is the waste basket.”

        1. O bother. This link gave the first excerpt above at 7:12 AM.

        1. Excerpted from the link above:

          “Scarcely, however, had the problems of World War I been met than the problems of the 1930’s called forth fresh efforts. Quaker workers were soon engaged in helping refugees escape from Hitler’s Germany; in providing relief for children on both sides of the Spanish Civil War; with feeding refugees in occupied France; and later, in helping victims of the London blitz.”

          Selected for emphasis: “. . . relief for children on both sides of the Spanish Civil War . . . ”

          Oh! But what has AFSC done for TSDS lately?

          1. Who the blazes is TSDS; you ask? Yeah, that’s what I want to know, too. For the sake argument, let’s say that TSDS is TStD.

  8. Darren,

    I agree with you about the need for honorable, meaning, non-violent civil disobediance. However, you do not really mention the equally necessary corrorlary: honorable police work. We know from FOIA requests that just in the DAPL protests alone, police deliberately conspired to harm non-violent protesters and violate people’s civil rights. They knowingly targeted journalists, the elderly, children and preganat women on a prayer walk.

    Police can be heard on tape laughing or talking about getting people, including killing them. You point out something curious yourself in this post. You tell people if they comply faster with police orders, they won’t get cuffed so tightly. Cuffing people tightly for failing to comply fast enough is not professional policing. It’s simply punishment without trial. Tasers are increasing being used in the same way.

    The police are up armored, They are being trained by the military to treat civilians as combatants. This is not honorable. Police need to demilitarize and become honorable people as well.

    If you think I am making up the coordination by all levels of law enforcement to deliberately violate people’s civil rights, I will urge you to look at the FOIA requests and civil lawsuits filed against many police depts. Here is just one example:

    PDATE (6/12/17) – Emails released by The Intercept as part of their investigation into leaked documents from DAPL security contractor TigerSwan include an “Intel Group” email thread which took place in real time the night of November 20, 2016. The emails show local, state, and federal officials monitoring the presence of media at Backwater Bridge that night, including Unicorn Riot. After law enforcement began using water cannons on the crowd of water protectors, Bismarck Police officer Lynn Wanner sent a joke to her colleagues in the Intel Group: “I guess it [water] isn’t life after all.” Additional emails also show the ‘Intel Group’ conspiring to frame Sophia Wilansky as being responsible for her severe injuries that night, which witnesses say were caused by police atop an armored vehicle throwing a grenade directly at her as she was fleeing.

    Cannon Ball, ND – Water protectors attempting to clear two damaged military trucks from Highway 1806 were met with a militarized response by law enforcement working to ensure the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Police used tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets, concussion grenades, and more crowd control munitions (e.g. here, here, here, & here).


    1. Jill, you’re a broad with an attitude. No police officer is going to treat you as a combatant, just as a public nuisance.

      1. And you — TSTD — have no idea what you’re talking about. You just pretend that you do.

        1. Jill put evidence on the table. TStD did not dispute Jill’s evidence so much as deny that Jill, herself, was at risk of severe injuries caused by militarized police. Though it’s a bit of a longshot, maybe TStD was just trying to be reassuring, you know, for Jill’s own sake. Or not.

  9. Robert Bork offered some time ago that as far as he was aware, MLK did not advocate civil disobedience bar in circumstances where it was necessary to give one standing to challenge a law.

    As we speak, there are few circumstances where civil disobedience is at all advisable or just. One of the few may be contra college and university administrators, who are commonly given to lying and try-every-door abuses of power.

    1. Thank goodness he was borked — and now we have this great new word, too.

      1. Just imagine how many unjust laws might’ve had to have been challenged via civil disobedience had Bork not been borked. No. Wait. We might not have to use our imaginations for that one too much longer. I bet TStD dreams of men with chest enacting or reenacting just such unjust laws.

  10. I am a firm believer in peaceful civil disobedience, however as a person that was put in one of Dubya’s “free speech zones” a mile and a half from where he was to speak in open public air, we were treated as convicted before we could even be heard or seen. Police had guard rail and fence 360. I personally seen and heard police taunt and threat anybody to provoke them into action. We stood our ground in peace, knowing that if one or more said the wrong thing it would give them the legal ground to attack. It really seemed to us that the cops were looking for anything to break our groups up. Cops yelling to the crowd that they better not “smell” anything funny or it would be going to jail for the lot of us. So even in America free speech is not free, and is in real danger if citizens cannot peacefully assemble.

    1. a mile and a half from where he was to speak in open public air, we were treated as convicted before we could even be heard or seen.

      Here you have a public event with thousands of people present and you managed to make enough of an ass of yourself to get a time-out from the local cops. Good show.

      1. “you managed to make enough of an ass of yourself to get a time-out”

        That’s quite a leap that you made, TSTD.

        1. TSTD is without doubt one jackass supreme, anybody knew Dubya had free speech zones when he was President. The WH called most of his speeches for invited guests, not everyone was welcomed.

          1. “TSTD is without doubt one jackass supreme”

            That’s for sure.

  11. It sounds like Professor Turley expects waves of protest ahead. I think that’s quite possible. At least half the country wonders if Trump is really a legitimately elected president. That perception alone could fuel rowdy mass protests in the not-so-distant future.

      1. The new format does not clearly note the author. For example, see Turley’s posts.

        1. Mae Costello – the old format did not either. Old hands know that if Darren is going to write a column, it will be on the weekend. The part-timers are weekends. However, Darren is the only ‘active’ weekender currently.

          1. Paul, please check. I believe every Turley post noted that it was written by him at the top of each post.

        2. By policy weekend contributors’ articles are prefaced with the author’s byline.

          1. Darren, yes, the weekend writers were always noted. I did not propose otherwise. I believe Turley’s authorship was always noted under the headline as well. At any rate, I think Turley’s authorship should appear under the headline. If the post is forwarded to someone, it validates the writer. Additionally, any thoughts on updating the tab that lists the weekend bloggers? With the exception of Mike and Darren, the others haven’t made any contribution for years.

    1. At least half the country wonders if Trump is really a legitimately elected president.

      You’re projecting. It is true that half of all self-identified Democrats thought it ‘fair’ that Sarah Huckabee Sanders get (and, implicitly, seven members of her family) be told they’re untouchables.

  12. The Freedom to Peaceably Assemble is complicated by infiltrators who engage in violence and destruction.

    1. So you’ve resigned from that Antifa cell, I take it.

    2. Chris P Bacon, there are several historical examples of undercover police units infiltrating protests and inciting riots as agents provocateur.

  13. Sharing some Feedback on the new format for what it’s worth: I find this new comment section much harder to read and follow along with in this tighter, smaller, cramped-feeling space. I don’t like it and much prefer the old wide-open, full-page comment section format.

    1. It’s so unfair! [Sarcasm] The community organizer is organizing the community. It’s so unfair!

  14. Mespo, you sound like Trump. You saying what’s on everybody’s mind.

    1. Not everybody’s, just racist, white supremacist, misogynists.

  15. You wanna be an effective protester? Go vote. Anything else makes you a member of a mob we look at in disbelief and wonder why they aren’t at their jobs.

    1. For those who weren’t born into privledge, protesting is their job.

      1. They’re job because most businessmen have the sent to not hire Okupiers.

    2. Does this include the mob on Pettus Bridge? Those at Woolworth counters?

      1. Yep, were it not for Congress passing Civil Rights legislation, that would be an historical footnote. The marches didn’t make right things, legilslation and court rul8ngs did.

        1. Dr. King held that it was legislation and court rulings that had made the unjust things against which the marchers marched.

  16. Darren Smith – so, can we assume you are planning some protesting in the near future? BTW, you are not going to make any progress with Antifa. Violence is their endgame.

    1. Police in Alabama ‘made progress’ with Antifa by telling them to remove their godforsaken masks or face arrest. Anti-Klan laws still on the books in ‘bama.

      1. And those laws apply to the liberal version of the Klan as well?!?😦

        1. I’m pretty sure that you do not believe that Antifa is “a liberal version of the Klan.” But I have to admit a smidgen of doubt on that count, Ptom.

          BTW, the most recent unmasking of Antifa was in Georgia in April of this year. The Antifa unmasking in Alabama took place in April of 2017. I know how much you like facts, Gnash. Otherwise Antifa has been relatively quite since DHS declared them a terrorist group in September of 2017, IIRC, shortly before the boycott of Berkeley Free Speech Week. But maybe they’re on the move again . . . in Georgia.

  17. I strongly suggest inqueries to the nearest group of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) who can provide advice including relevant literature, if if not necessarily more direct support.

    1. Hundreds of thousands protested on Saturday and there was no a single report of trouble. Well done.

      1. Right… And all of them demanding that ice be disbanded, and that the boards be left entirely open for whom ever come across who wants to. Just to clue you in, that includes unknown quantities of drugs, and something like 2000 guns and rifles a day. Maybe you want to think twice about open borders.

    2. Yeah. The ‘relevant literature’ is what the American Friends Service Committee produces in the intervals where they’re not acting as press agents for Arab gangsters.

        1. David Benson owes me five citations (one from the OED) and the source of a quotation, after five weeks – what proof do you give us? As usual, you fail to back up your claim.

          1. Nothing to fear; the enabler is here. Go to the top of the page, Paul. and scroll down just a little ways. You should find plenty of back-up for Dr. Benson’s claim. However, Dr. Benson’s claim about TStD’s supposedly ignorant folly was vastly overstated. OTOH, TStD started it, as usual. So there.

            1. L4D enables David Benson – it is more fun making Benson not do it. BTW, this is not grade school.

              1. Inconsistency. If this is not grade school, then why are you trying to have more fun making Dr. Benson not back-up his claims?

                1. L4D enables David Benson – because what I am trying to get David Benson to do goes on all the time at academic conferences or even between colleagues at lunch.

                  And that is Demi-god Paul C. Schulte to you. You are being overly familiar. Don’t do it again.

        2. No, I’m reporting things about the American Friends Service Committee that you’d rather ignore.

          1. In 1947, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and British Friends Service Council accepted one of the most prestigious awards in the world—the Nobel Peace Prize—on behalf of Quakers worldwide. The prize recognized 300 years of Quaker efforts to heal rifts and oppose war. In particular, it named the work done by the two recipient Quaker organizations during and after the two world wars to feed starving children and help Europe rebuild itself.

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