If you have a couple of peaceniks trooping through town as part of a nationwide walking protest, do you, A: Wish them well and ease them out of town, perhaps to laugh at them later over beers or, B) Start hassling them and throw one in jail, garnering sympathy for them and making your police force look like bullying thugs? They know which one to pick in West Terre Haute:
WEST TERRE HAUTE — Two men walking across the nation to protest the Iraq war say police officers in West Terre Haute violated their constitutional rights last week when one of the men was arrested for failing to produce identification.Police say the request for identification was legitimate, and the arrest lawful.
For nearly four months, Raymond Schwab, 32, of Loveland, Colo., and Elliott Nesch, 22, of Fort Collins, Colo. — Brother Raymond and Brother Elliott, to their followers — have been walking from Denver on their way to Washington, D.C., sharing their religious and pacifist beliefs.
They belong to Beit Shalom Ministries, an outreach of the Protestant Free Church Movement, according to their Web site, www.beitshalomministries.org, which is sponsoring the walk.
At least they didn't bring out the dogs and water hoses.
The protesters don't deserve that much sympathy. They're not just "anti-war." If you check out their Web site, you'll see that they are also "9/11 was an inside job" conspiracy nuts, and they delight in posting photos and videos of police "abusing their constitutional rights" all across the country. Their research into the constitutional issues of showing ID show that they're not exactly going out their way to avoid these confrontations.
But if we approve of police demanding IDs whenever they feel like it, just because they think they can, we're inviting the same treatment of our own rights.