I received this email this morning:
Dear Mister Manly,
My job requires me to walk through public places most of the day. Normally, I enjoy being out and about with the general population, but lately I’ve had some difficulties with political activists getting in my face over their stupid beliefs. I’ve had this happen in the past with religious freeks, but it was pretty well understood with the local law enforcement people that kicking their asses out of your way was quite alright. I figure that the same should apply to political fanatics, but I’m not getting any vibe from the local cops.
Can I kick some butt or not?
First, since I can feel your pain, I will exercise great self restraint and not go into what I think about your name. So, moving past that minor problem, I would say that my reading of the Constitution includes something about your freedom of expression where politics is involved. While the original document only specifically mentions “freedom of speech” in this area, recent Supreme Court rulings have extended this right to include burning the American Flag and other minor acts of violence preformed in the name of “liberty.” Thus, and the key here is restraint, I see no reason why a good lawyer couldn’t make a great case that inflicting a bit of bodily harm on some twit who gets in your face about some political candidate wouldn’t fall under the same right of free expression of political opinion.
On the other hand, I’m not a lawyer, nor would I want to be one, so my advice in this area may be questionable. On the gripping hand, if you have good enough lawyers, as the OJ murder case demonstrates, it really doesn’t matter what the law actually is. Beyond that, if you don’t go to extremes in dealing out some physical discouragement to political pests, and even if the local police decide to waste time on your case, assault on that level is usually a misdemeanor, and first time offenders get off with probation.
Still, if one is sly, there is no need for any legally actionable criminal action. For instance, when a sign waving political activist starts to block your way, simply pretend to stumble, fall forward, and drive an elbow into the twit’s stomach. Apologize profusely and, while attempting to help him up, fall to the side and dislocate his arm while falling. At this point, you should probably make a show of having injuries of your own, and do some yelling for medical assistance. Who knows, if the twit in question is an employee of some serious political campaign, you might even be able to get some insane monetary compensation from them in future legal actions. Ain’t it a great country?