The Black Lives Matter movement has a special place in the daily parade of grievances known as “Fox & Friends.” While admittedly the hosts and guests seem to be angry about a lot of things, they seem to reserve a special brand of outrage for BLM. The September 29 edition is no exception, as it featured “Judge” Jeanine Pirro verbally whacking away at BLM, activist Deray Mckesson and a federal judge in Louisiana in reaction to a September 28 ruling making the rather unremarkable rulings that a police officer injured in responding to an incident at a protest rally in Baton Rouge cannot personally sue Mr. Mckesson and that BLM is not an entity capable of being sued in any event.
As to the claim against Mr. Mckesson, the complaint essentially says – in conclusory and vague allegations – that Mr. Mckesson organized the rally, and didn’t shut it down when some attendees acted out, thereby injuring the police officer. There is no allegation in the complaint that Mr. Mckesson had anything to do with the actual injury to the police officer.
Before we go any farther, I have complete sympathy for the police officer (who filed the suit as “John Doe”). And he is entitled to all the compensation he can receive for his injury, including a civil suit against whoever actually injured him. That is not the point.
The point is that people who organize rallies and who are otherwise not involved in actual violence or inciting imminent violence cannot and should not be held responsible for acts of others. Imagine the club this could be for shutting down dissent. If I am sufficiently upset by a matter of public interest that I organize a peaceful rally that unfortunately leads some attendees to misbehave, and I can be held responsible, I probably will not be organizing any rallies. And that is a pretty major chilling effect.
Should Wayne LaPierre be sued every time an NRA member shoots someone? I am going to go way out on a limb here and say that the Fox & Friends folks would say no to that one. But how do you have one without the other?
And as to the ability to sue BLM, the court found that the plaintiff simply failed to allege adequate facts to establish that BLM is an entity as opposed to a movement. The former can be sued the latter can’t. The plaintiff’s claim that the fact that BLM has a Twitter hashtag did not impress the court.
And sadly, “Judge” Pirro blew by any thoughtful analysis of the issue and quickly pointed out that the Judge on the case – the honorable Brian Jackson — was appointed by President Obama. A real “aha” moment for her. Of course, had she read the decision, she would have seen that the Judge relied heavily on the U.S. Supreme Court case of NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware for the common sense notion that a plaintiff cannot recover damages from a person “solely because of his association with another.” And that decision was written by a Justice appointed by Republican Gerald Ford, and joined by noted liberal whack jobs Warren Burger and William Rehnquist.
I don’t expect much from the hosts of Fox & Friends beyond nicely coiffed hair and dazzlingly white teeth. But if you’re going to call yourself a judge, as Ms. Pirro does, it’s probably good to act like one.