Sunday, November 05, 2006

Justifying Protests/Rioting

I had an interesting discussion over shabbos with a couple of friends of mine.

Yerushalayim has seen rioting over the last several days, all due to the upcoming Gay Pride Parade. The question was whether or not the rioting was a chilul hashem or not.

On the one hand, they're rioting/protesting (to an extent, the difference is in the eye of the beholder) against a chilul hashem. On the other hand, well, they're rioting.

Like many other things, whether its a chilul hashem or a kiddush hashem is dependant on how its executed and for what purpose.

Jealousy can be good or bad.
Taking a life can be good (soldier in war, self defense) or bad (murder).
Protesting can be good or bad.
So can rioting.

In my mind, the question was how the riots were being conducted. Were the rioters thinking "We're doing this for God" or just to blow off steam? And I don't mean by the majority, I mean were even 5%, or the original rioters, doing it for God. Mob behavior can lead the majority to do it for venting purposes, but its the instigators I'm looking at.

The second question was the impact the protests and rioting would have. Would the parade be cancelled? It seems like it might be, so maybe the rioting had a purpose. While the cost benefit analysis must be done a priori, that the protests and riots were successful still gives some validation.

The last question was the impact the protests and riots would have *on ther rioters.* In a manner of speaking, the successful cancellation of the parade would be seen as an act of condoning rioting. With the other (objectively inappropriate) riots, the case of the father who killed his newborn daughter, Ponovich, etc, maybe we should push for a zero tolernace riot/protest policy.

Whether to protest (with the aim or substantial likelihood of riots) the gay pride parade or not is a difficult question. By no means is it black or white.

Anyway, I'm off to bed. I'm sure this will engender some discussion and some outrage. I hope to further refine my thoughts over the course of the week.