Few of these protesters fear any legal consequences when they violate the law. Nor do those who disrupt public officials at restaurants, stalk them on their way to work, or post their private information on the internet.
Yet most Americans are tired of hearing the lame excuses that the protesters’ supposedly noble ends justify their unethical or illegal means to achieve them.
On the other hand, the public does not wish to curb free speech or our First Amendment rights of expression. Journalists certainly have the right to unprofessionally lecture and sermonize instead of just posing questions to public officials. But they still set a poor example of journalistic behavior and disinterested reporting while confirming the public’s low esteem for their entire profession.
Most people do not believe that the overseers of Facebook, Google, and Twitter possess either the wisdom or the ethics to censor the sort of social media that most people find objectionable. Yet the pubic tires of the anonymous hit men on social media who post vicious lies to ruin the reputations of their perceived enemies.
The trick, then, is to distinguish between illegal behavior (which should be prosecuted) and improper behavior (which should be shamed).
Lawbreakers can be arrested and prosecuted to deter illegality. But are there any consequences when journalists and TV hosts compare the president to a mass-murdering Hitler, resort to scatology on the air, or traffic in fake news?