This post is obviously motivated by the recent happenings in Hong Kong, but something very similar happened in Taiwan a few months ago, and my view on that is the same.
First of all, I do support their cause. They are fighting for what I personally believe is the best for them, and the central government has broken their promise to them.
I am agnostic towards the method they have chosen to voice their concerns. There is a point at which legal options become insufficient and one must resort to illegal options. I do not know enough about Hong Kong politics to have an informed opinion on whether the civil disobedience (and all the damage it’s causing, will get to that later) is justified in this case.
What I have never been under the illusion of, is that what they are doing is legal.
It is illegal to disable a city just because you have something to say, no matter what that something is.
It is illegal under the laws of Hong Kong, and it’s illegal under the law of any democratic country I know.
Some people are mis-interpreting the constitutional right to assemble and the freedom of speech to justify the legality of the movement. I’m sorry, that’s not how democracy works.
You are reading my blog because you want to listen to what I have to say (thank you :)), but that choice is absolutely yours. You could have, of course, chosen to not click on the link on my Facebook page (or elsewhere), and there is nothing I can do about that. It would be illegal if I hacked into your computers, to forcefully show my blog post to you, just because I think what I have to say is very important, and you NEED to read it.
Freedom of speech means you are free to say anything you want, and give people the option to listen to what you have to say (with restrictions on slandering, etc). It does not give you the right to force people to listen to what you have to say.
And it especially does not give you the right to break into someone’s house and cause monetary damage to force them to listen to what you have to say.
Yes, the occupy central movement is peaceful and they are not doing physical damage. But that’s just good PR. They are absolutely doing tons of damage on the businesses there, by disabling the entire transportation system. That damages businesses monetarily probably more than any physical damage a more violent group would have done.
They are polite, peaceful, and doing a lot of damage.
And that is absolutely intentional. That’s how they are forcing people to listen to what they have to say. They are essentially holding Hong Kong hostage, and saying they will continue to peacefully cause damage until someone listens.
If they assembled somewhere else, and not cause significant damage, people would be able to just not listen to them.
They are causing damage to force people to listen to them. Stabbing someone is usually a good way to get someone’s attention.
Are the actions of the police justified? Of course they are.
They have a SOP of increasingly severe measures to disperse illegal assemblies, and they are just going up the ladder because none of the lower severity measures worked. What else are they supposed to do when tear gas didn’t work? Give up and allow people to continue causing damage to all the businesses there, who pay taxes partly for order?
If the group is campaigning for marijuana legalization, would people still think the police’s actions are not justified? What if it’s global warming or something else? Should everyone be allowed to disable the city and cause damage to say what they have to say?
If someone tries to occupy downtown New York to say whatever it is that they need to say, the police there would have done the same.
Should the police enforce the law in some cases but not others according to their personal beliefs? Or should they uphold the law with impartiality just like how judges are expected to interpret the law with impartiality?
I support what they have to say, but there is nothing legal about the way they are saying it.