One man’s vandalism is another’s political dissent. Back in 2012, researchers from Kent State University presented survey respondents a hypothetical news story: A partisan political group has been caught swiping yard signs and defacing campaign ads. Then they asked the respondents to rate both the seriousness of crime (which, technically, it is) and how justifiable it was to break the rules. The overwhelming response: It’s not that big of a deal and it is reasonably justifiable — at least, as long as the party affiliation of the group doing the vandalism matched the affiliation of the person answering the question. If the other guys are doing it, well, by jove, Geoffrey, that is just not how things are done. Drawing squiggly moustaches upon an opponent’s face is fine for me … but not for thee.

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