Category: Archive

Editorial The limits of protest

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

In our relatively free society, the right to protest and condemn is a right enshrined in both the Constitution and in the minds of most reasonable citizens. We all have a sense of how the right to express discontent can, indeed should, be limited in terms of actual behavior.

We might not agree with a Congress-inspired tax hike. So we vote for a different Congress, perhaps even protest with placards on Capitol Hill. We don’t burn down the Capitol building. We might not agree with a court decision, so we appeal to a higher court. We don’t smash the nearest statue depicting the scales of justice.

Society allows numerous forms of protest, even to the point of breaking the letter of the law in some circumstances. But we all carry a sense of limits, of varying options in a situation where we feel protest is clearly warranted. You need not buy a book if you hear that it’s offensive to your personal taste or feelings. You might read it and tell others that it’s not worth buying. You can simply ignore it.

Ignoring "Angela’s Ashes" has been an all but impossible task. Millions have read the Frank McCourt tale and have been impressed. Quite a few people have not been impressed. Some have even taken the criticism of a bygone Limerick City and its inhabitants personally. Long Island bar owner Dave Crowe is but one. Mr. Crowe has decided, correctly, that burning a copy, or copies, of "Angela’s Ashes" is not the wisest form of protest he can undertake. His judgment is on the mark. The burning of books is an act replete with horrific memories of a bygone era in a bygone place that made 1930s Limerick seem like Shangri-La. We can only hope that others who take part in his "book protest" feel the same way and confine any action they might take within the bounds of what most of us feel is reasonable in the circumstances.

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese