AuthorErvin, Mike

I know well what it's like to be arrested for taking part in a raucous protest. I've been arrested for committing acts of civil disobedience at least twenty-five times, or maybe more. I've lost count.

Many of my fellow disability activists and co-members of the disability rights group ADAPT have been arrested way more often than I have. A lot of our arrests have occurred at the U.S. Capitol and on Capitol Hill. ADAPT activists love to show up uninvited at the offices of lawmakers and at hearings and such, where we make noise and refuse to leave until our demands are met or we are hauled away.

I'm not saying this to boast but because I'm trying to make a point, mostly to myself. And it helps if I do it in writing.

When I see the kinds of crazy things the rightwing screwballs have been up to lately, such as the storming of the U.S. Capitol, I'm not so quick to decry their actions as insurgencies and insurrections. My online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines an insurgent as "a person who revolts against civil authority or an established government." The definition of insurrection is pretty much the same: "an act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government."

When I've been arrested for engaging in raucous, confrontational protests, I guess you can say I was revolting against civil authority or an established government. I certainly hope that's what I was doing.

Does that make me an insurgent and an insurrectionist? If so, I'm proud to bear the title. But if those rightwing nutjobs are also insurgents and insurrectionists, that's a problem. I don't want to be associated with them in any way.

So I have to remind myself that calling someone an insurgent or an insurrectionist isn't necessarily an insult or condemnation. It can also be a compliment. It all depends on what civil authority or established government you are revolting against, and why and how you revolt.

Therein lies the difference between your rightwing screwballs and protesters like those with ADAPT.

To be honest, I don't much care for polite political rallies. I recognize that such rallies have their time and place and have played a key role in making things happen. But, generally, events where people get together and speechify and then all go home leave me feeling the opposite of empowered. I feel frustrated. I think it's because rallies often strike me as detached. And detached protests feel ineffective.

What jazzes me up are protests designed to...

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