Rest of the Story

By Pat Merriman

Dear, snowflakes — your candidate didn’t win and, now, you need play dough, coloring books, and a big hug as you waddle down the middle of the street annoying the rest of us who are just trying to get home? Of course, demanding to call in sick or miss that test while you recover?

“Snowflake” a unique, special, delicate little crybaby entitled to everything. First name Stanley “spelled with a ‘C’ “? Free health care, college, housing, food and Internet. The same guys who walk up to me and whine on Friday nights, “Mr. official, he’s hitting me too hard.” You poor little thing, get back to your huddle and cowboy up!

Rather than rant, I want to dispel two rampant misperceptions that keep getting bandied by the talking heads in the media this week. First, despite popular misconception, you don’t have a constitutional “right” to commit crimes as a means of protest. “Peaceful protest” was invented by Mohandas Gandhi on March 12, 1930. No guns, no pipes, no fists, no blocking traffic!

And, from ALL the courts in this great country: if you break the law when “protesting,” you go to jail. You must accept the penalty (pay the price) when you cross the line during your little march. Even our North Dakota Supreme Court, in 1991, rejected that a “morally compelling reason” equates with legal “justification” or “excuse” to break the law.

When you riot, arm rioters, assault, terrorize, menace, disobey a public safety order, obstruct/hinder a peace officer, vandalize, trespass, or impede traffic, even SCOTUS says, “sidewalks, the free passage of traffic and the prevention of public disorder and violence become important objects of legitimate state concern” to the authorities.

Another quote little darlings, “Criminal trespass and interfering with law enforcement seeking to enforce the law is also not constitutionally protected activity but, rather, a violation of federal law under the Civil Obedience Act of 1968.” And, in North Dakota, if at least three of you act/agree in concert to commit ANY felony offense or misdemeanor crime of violence or pecuniary gain, you have committed a felony! Bummer … dude!

Second, minors enrolled in public school do NOT have a right to protest during school hours! I don’t care what the local teacher’s union is telling you. Huh? Yep, I taught this course in college. Students don’t have civil rights at school. Sorry! When you “cut class,” whiny intentions notwithstanding, that’s called, uh, TRUANCY — a crime.

Chapter 15.1-20 of the North Dakota Century Code sets out the cold pricklies: with very limited exceptions (like home schooling), parents/guardians of kids between ages seven to 16 must insure their kid is actually in school during school hours, only absences “excused” by the school district are allowed, teachers and school administrators must enforce compulsory attendance and notify local law enforcement of truancy upon pain of criminal prosecution themselves.

You knuckleheads make statements like, “I’m declaring war,” “there will be casualties on both sides,” “Fry the bacon,” “Oink Oink, Bang Bang.” Really? Spoken like someone whose never been blown off their feet and picked pieces of their buddy off themselves for the next two weeks. You don’t know what in the heck you’re talking about.

So, put down your protest sign for a second … OK … wait for it … any peace officer has the authority to enforce an order from their senior command ordering you to move, disperse, or refrain from specified activities in the immediate vicinity of one of these riots too. The place for you to debate this will be handcuffed in court not in the middle of someone else’s property. OK … group hug!

Pat Merriman is the Dunn County State Attorney. He is a photographer and also officiates high school and college athletics events in the area.

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