Just a few weeks ago the idea of “peaceful riots” would have seemed absurd, but the American media is nothing if not inventive these days.
Earlier this week, ABC News reported, “Protesters in California set fire to a courthouse, damaged a police station and assaulted officers after a peaceful demonstration intensified.” Legal scholar Eugene Volokh wonders how this terminology would work in the real world: “You are being charged with an intensified peaceful demonstration, in the second degree. How do you plead?”
Indeed, the media’s commitment to tempering their descriptions of violent riots sweeping the nation as “mostly peaceful” is relentless – that particular phrase has become a media cliché practically overnight. Of course, America’s police officers could also be accurately described as “mostly peaceful,” but any journalist who dared to give cops the same generous benefit of the doubt would likely cause a riot in their own newsroom.
That’s why it was almost shocking to read an Associated Press report earlier this week from reporter Mike Balsamo, who embedded with federal law enforcement protecting the Mark O. Hatfield courthouse in downtown Portland.
“I watched as injured officers were hauled inside. In one case, the commercial firework came over so fast the officer didn’t have time to respond. It burned through his sleeves and he had bloody gashes on both forearms. Another had a concussion from being hit in the head with a mortar,” Balsamo reported.
“The lights inside the courthouse have to be turned off