Of course, when a protest turns into violence, arson, rioting and looting, that protest has lost any claim to ethical legitimacy. Let’s (mostly)ignore that Woolly Mammoth in the room, however, to try to assess the George Floyd protests from as positive a perspective as possible.
Here’s the checklist:
1. Is this protest just and necessary?
Outside of the locale where the incident took place, the protests were neither just nor necessary. They were only necessary in Minneapolis if there was a real chance that the police involved would not be held accountable. There was no reason to assume that in the brief time before the mobs gathered and the chants began.
2. Is the primary motive for the protest unclear, personal, selfish, too broad, or narrow?
As in most such cases, the primary motive was and is incoherent. “Expressing outrage” is by definition too broad to be productive. “Justice” does not mean what the protesters seem to think it does.
3. Is the means of protest appropriate to the objective?
No, if the objectives are a fair trial and due process under the criminal justice system, which it should be. If anything, the protests undermine those objectives.
4. Is there a significant chance that it will achieve an ethical objective or contribute to doing so? Continue reading