During the presidential inauguration Friday, which should be a day of celebration, three things happened — two that should have and one that shouldn’t have.
The first was to witness, as we have done for more than 200 years, the peaceful transition from one head of state to the other. For many other countries, the transition only comes by a military coup or armed revolution.
The second was a right to stand along a public street anywhere in America, voice or hold a sign in protest to the policies that are, or expected to be, enacted by the new administration.
What should not have happened is that instead of just voicing their opinion, one group turned to something ugly by vandalizing businesses in Washington. D.C., not far from the inauguration parade.
We like divergent points of view. We like healthy, heated discussions about matters of importance. That is this country’s foundation.
But to vandalize private property just because it is somewhere close to the inauguration of a president many did not support? That’s just stupidity.
The people who did that were not exercising their right to fair comment, they were exercising their right to be an unruly rabble — a right that does not exist in this country.
Rioting is not voicing an opinion. Rioting is not a protest. Rioting is just plain and simple, stupid behavior.
At the same time, though, there have been hundreds of peaceful protests throughout the country. Agree with the marchers and protesters or not, it is their right to assemble peacefully.
The Trump presidency promises to be a wild ride for Americans. The upside to that ride is that the recent presidential race has sparked a discussion about the country’s future that probably needed to take place.
What the race did not spark was an excuse for a few misguided people to turn into an unruly rabble, regardless of what they might claim.
• Dave Mathews