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Anti-war vandals hit recruiting station

...
Anti-war vandals hit recruiting station

<www.santacruzsentinel.com/archive/2003/January/30/local/stories/13local.htm>

January 30, 2003

Capitola

Political-minded vandals struck two military recruiting offices late
Tuesday or early Wednesday, spray-painting the words “No war” and
“Peace,” along with peace and anarchy symbols on windows and an
exterior wall.
The offices, on 41st Avenue, house recruiters for the Navy and Air
Force.
Kurt Riggs, public affairs officer for the San Francisco Navy Recruiting
District, said the Navy tracks the vandalism but leaves the
investigation to local authorities.
“It doesn’t demoralize us in any way,” Riggs said. “All (the vandals)
are doing is, to an extreme extent, exercising their right to free
speech, which is guaranteed by the Constitution and is protected by
the men and women of the Navy and other armed services every
day.”
 
 


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Troubling comment by military man

“It doesn’t demoralize us in any way,” [military spokesman Kurt] Riggs said. “All (the vandals) are doing is, to an extreme extent, exercising their right to free speech, which is guaranteed by the Constitution and is protected by the men and women of the Navy and other armed services every day.”

Since when is damage and destruction of property NOT YOUR OWN a legitimate form of "free speech"?

If you want to buy a US flag and burn it, I'll wince but defend your right to express yourself. If you want to picket a recruiting station, I'll stand up for you. But damage to property or injury to persons is not free speech. Or is it? Did the definitions change again while I had my back turned? I can understand why some revolutionaries might assert free speech rights in this incident. But I don't get why a military representative would casually confuse free speech and common vandalism. People are already confused enough, why add to it?
 

Free Speech

Jack, the guy is a military man, not a civil libertarian specializing in the niceties of what constitutes free speech. It simply indicates that picketing, burning flags and property damage are all construed by him as methods of protest that lie on a continuum of extremity. He is also probably trained to say that the work of the US Military is what makes the American tradition of protest against government possible (you will get this line from anyone in the military, whether it's a PR hack or a lowly private—the indoctrination is thorough). He couldn't make this point—obviously very important to a military trying desperately to justify its role in a free society—without legitimizing vandalism as a protest tactic.

This should be a lesson to those who commit property destruction that their tactics, while more extreme, may not be all that much more radical. The work of the military will not be easily threatened with mere counter-propaganda, whether it's on a picket sign or spray-painted on a window. That counter-propaganda (call it an "informational campaign" if you wish) is more useful in your neighborhood than at the recruitment center. For attacks against the "infrastructure of terror" in the community to have been effective, the action would have to have actually stopped their work, not just nagged them. One needn't commit any sort of property destruction to do this. Don't fetishize f**king s**t up in reaction to those who continue to demonize you for it. Be creative. Spray-painting circle-A's isn't particularly creative or effective.
 

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