It’s bombs away, but the stuff that’s going to change your life is happening on the Portland city streets. As Mr. Burns might say, “Release the hounds.”

I don’t have anything against anti-war protests. I’ve been in a few myself, most recently a couple weeks ago. But there’s a difference between civil disobedience and anarchy. If you want to protest Bush’s unjust war, dubbed “Operation Oily Residue” by Michael Moore, I’m all for that. Peaceful protest, which can include getting arrested, can be a profound engine for promoting social awareness and change.

Shutting down major interstates without a permit, on the other hand, is not only dangerous, it’s incredibly stupid. Nobody’s mind will be changed by this sort of behavior. When the police inevitably show up, it won’t be to nonchalantly ask people to tango. Protesters will be lucky if they don’t kick’em in the gonads, and toss’em in the back of the paddy wagon (to the applause of the multitudes, I might add). Pissing people off will not induce them to adopt an alternate point of view. (Of course in all likelihood neither will issuing semi-humorous screeds on a personal web site.) Any driver stuck in the traffic jam protesters have created will sit and seethe, grinding his teeth, and think venomous thoughts. And those are the pro-peace ones.

As I’ve said before, the anarchists are ruining the First Amendment. If people are not willing to protest peacefully, well, hell, the police can hand me the billy club, and I’d be more than happy to take a few swings at crowd control. Our constitutional right is to peaceably assemble, not go wilding through Old Town. Unless the anarchists who seem to show up marches and rallies of every kind are stopped, peaceful assembly will becomes a quaint relic, something that people used to do before society became unsafe.

Other than violence, I don’t know exactly what the anarchists are advocating, but aggression and destruction are not legitimate forms of self- or political expression. I’d be happy if we reinstituted exile as a possible legal sanction. Or maybe corporal punishment. (Any lawyers out there know if either of these are feasible?) I know, I know, you think I’m kidding. I’m not. Civil disobedience and peaceful protest only work in the context of a lawful structure. If anarchists want to overthrow the government, the economic system, or any other institution, they should try advocating change through the political process. If they want violent revolution, I’m on the side of the cops, and I say release the hounds.