Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Commentary

December 17, 2012

When thuggery is OK

(Continued)

Outside the Michigan Capitol the day of the vote, union protesters tore down the large organizational tent of the pro-right-to-work free-market group Americans for Prosperity and punched Fox News contributor Steven Crowder. It could have been worse. Crowder sustained a chipped tooth and a small cut on his forehead. But it was notable who was doing the punching.

At least it should have been. Some on the left have condemned Crowder for having the temerity to get assaulted (or as Stephen Douglas said of Charles Sumner before he was caned by Preston Brooks: "That damn fool will get himself killed by some other damn fool"). A writer at the website Gawker argued, in effect, that it was really stupid of Crowder to get in the way of a mob involved in the good, clean work of trashing other people's property.

Opponents of right-to-work complained of the rapid legislative action in Michigan during a lame-duck session. But Michigan's GOP legislators didn't want to repeat the experience of Wisconsin, where lawmakers were hounded and personally threatened in a drawn-out fight over collective bargaining.

The business of banging drums, shouting and occupying buildings is not about rational persuasion so much as a show of muscle to intimidate.

These aren't tactics favored by the right, and if they were it would be an ongoing national scandal. It was considered a danger to the republic at the inception of the tea party when constituents merely asked sharp questions of the late Sen. Arlen Specter and booed at a town hall meeting.

The same standards will never apply to the unions. Not that they would abide by them. Too much is at stake. For them, the Wisconsin and Michigan fights are fundamentally about power. They need the coercive power of the state to force as many people as possible to become members and cough up dues. And they need the dues to fund the election of politicians who will protect their interests. By inserting worker choice into the equation, right-to-work risks crimping the whole enterprise.

So they will fight and claw - civility be damned.

(c) 2012 by King Features Syndicate

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