The Right To Swing Your Arm....
A man famous for his leadership of movement entirely devoted to telling others what they can't do wouldn't normally be an ideal choice for mention on a site focused on personal liberty. However, orator and prohibitionist John B Finch is also famous for a quote with timely implications. Despite the line being credited to everyone from Oliver Wendell Holmes to Teddy Roosevelt, Finch is on record as having been the first to utter, “Yes, but your right to swing your arm leaves off where my right not to have my nose struck begins.” Well, there are noses aplenty being struck in Ferguson, Missouri, these days and I'd like to make a few brief observations about it.
Liberty means the freedom to live your own life both unencumbered - and unassisted - by outside interests, including government. It does not mean taking what you want by force or wantonly destroying the property of others because you are unhappy or feel aggrieved. And it certainly doesn't mean decrying any action against you as a further victimization by the very people you are assaulting.
As American citizens, we have the right to peaceably assemble, to speak our minds, to petition our government for redress of our grievances. These rights are guaranteed to us in our First Amendment protections. But congregating for the sole purpose of planning arson and looting has nothing to do peaceable assembly. It's criminal conspiracy. Demanding than an already agitated crowd "burn this bitch down" is very nearly the textbook definition of "speech that incites imminent lawless action." And hurling rocks, bottles and Molotov cocktails, last I checked, is not recognized as a legitimate method of petitioning for redress - but it can qualify as attempted murder depending on the circumstances.
You are welcome to be angry - you're a human being and entitled to your feelings and opinions - but how you choose to express that anger speaks volumes about your character or lack of it. You are free to choose to express that anger through acts of criminal violence, if you wish. But have the courage to be honest about having made that choice and accept the risks that it brings, especially should you target a fellow citizen who chooses to exercise their Second Amendment rights in their own defense.
If you direct violence against the persons and properties of fellow citizens who have had NO PART WHATSOEVER in whatever wrong you perceive yourself to have received, you are neither a community hero nor a civil rights icon. You are a coward, a thug and a vandal. If you're comfortable with that, carry on. Just don't be surprised if your limits are abruptly defined.