Excerpt from article in The Washington Post "On Faith" column by Father Frank Pavone
Martin Luther King, Jr. in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail wrote to the clergy who criticized his peaceful activism:
"In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn't this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn't this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn't this like condemning Jesus because his unique God-consciousness and never-ceasing devotion to God's will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the Federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber."The bottom line is this. Like it or not, we are each responsible for our own actions. Furthermore, we are in fact influenced by one another, but unless you want to live in a hole in the mountains, you have to accept that fact while avoiding the temptation to abandon that personal responsibility. And to attempt to "keep the peace" by chilling, or somehow prohibiting, freedom of speech, is simply another form of violence against the human spirit.