Christians and preachers are increasingly finding trouble when they attempt to stand on a sidewalk and share their faith or provide brochures. Jury nullification activists will understand the feeling. You might think it’s weird when people yell on a street corner, but if it’s a public sidewalk and the people aren’t impeding on anyone else, it’s constitutional. As long as no one is blocking the sidewalk or violating traffic safety it’s usually an acceptable practice.
So why were the people of Old Paths Baptist Church in Minnesota asked to move to a “designated area” and told that it was the only thing needed to be said “by law”? In other words, it’s a command and that’s that. But commands don’t magically become law or supersede the Constitution.
In this bizarre video uploaded by the church in late August, a commanding officer literally gives the same command an extreme number of times to get the people to move during Steele Country Fair. The church members are mysteriously told that they are “causing problems.”
The commanding officer utters this line with a robotic monotone at least ten times, if not twenty:
We’re allowing you to demonstrate down there. [Points finger]
His repetition technique puts up a wall in a seeming attempt to shut down rational discussion. Instead of a mutual understanding it becomes an order. Repetition can be used when trying to maintain boundaries (I don’t answer questions), or as a gentle but firm parenting technique. But when it’s used in the way above, it is specifically about domination – a way to overpower someone else.
An interesting word from Introduction to the Sociology of Law:
In other words, motives emanating from dominators are very powerful when they enter the consciousness of subjects, just because they come from dominators.
Repetition [of acts of domination] creates in the consciousness of the subjects a disposition to obey and the corresponding disposition to command on the part of the dominators.
The preacher refused to move down the sidewalk and he continued to speak respectfully as an adult. And then, another officer steps in to speak with the videographer preacher. They come to an understanding about property issues and city ordinances.
Gerry Spence has a new book, Police State: How America’s Cops…. In a brand new interview with Joe Donahue of WAMC Public Radio, the 60-year attorney veteran acknowledged the need for police. But he said one way toward reformation would be a change in attitude that officers be considered employees, not masters. Do you agree?