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Then... and now

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Police: Ohio Riot Was Worse Than Expected - Yahoo! News

It seems that Neo-Nazis protested, then left quickly, after which local residents rioted. Maybe Nazi saboteurs staged the post-rally riot, but that's not the way this is being portrayed. As the story is being told by Toledo's mayor, neighborhood residents were "highly angry over the idea that someone from outside the community could come in and insult them" -- so they decided to trash the neighborhood....

This tragic story is also a valuable modern (post-modern?) vignette, sez me. A "then" and "now" story, as it were:

Then: rioters are liable for battery and trespass.

Now: the city is liable, the police are liable, the neo-Nazis are liable, everyone is liable except the miscreants who actually committed the misdeeds. Note the valuable comment, oblivious both to the 1st Amendment and to normal theories of causation and of personal responsibility.

Keith White criticized city officials for allowing the march: "They let them come here and expect this not to happen?" said White, 29. Yes, Mr. White. We expect the citizens to behave as free and responsible human beings. Is that too much to expect? Isn't that what it means to be a citizen?

I'm reminded of the famous California case where a radio station was held liable for organizing a contest (first one to spot "The Real Don Steele" at the various locations where he shows up wins $100) because the contest "forced" two idiots to drag-race, killing an innocent third party. Different components of the 1st Amendment, same disregard for principles of individual responsibility.

Shame on you, Mr. White.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.