Thursday, January 26, 2012

Occupy Everywhere
Dear Friends,
I’m feeling grumpy these days. I’m grumpy about, among other things, the gross lack of social and economic justice and equality in my nation. This has led me to get involved with the Occupy movement in my hometown. That is the other thing that is making me grumpy.
While pretty much everybody in the group are nice and good hearted folks, as a unit they are remarkably ineffectual. They mainly are going about having meetings about having meetings and instructing newcomers in arcane hand signals that seem like some weird fraternity handshakes perhaps created by mute extraterrestrials. These are used to supposedly facilitate a democratic to-and-fro that winds up a discussion on how to come to consensus about what constitutes a consensus and hence arrives at no consensus except to have another meeting… maybe.
There is often no consensus as to whether or not it was decided to have a meeting, nor where and when it should happen if it was to happen to somehow have a meeting somewhere in space and time. The disassembled, well-meaning folks wiggle their fingers and gesticulate patiently in a manner that would befuddle a native speaker of ASL. There is silence in the room until the formation of a working committee is proposed. Another meeting is called for somewhere, sometime under the Great Arc of Heaven to decide on actually forming such a group. More gesticulations flurry the air, everybody gives up on the issue and agrees to tell each other how nice they are and exchange hugs.
Thus, I am now submitting an action plan to actually get something, one thing, done. If these good people can’t get out of their own way to work toward the stated and simple goal of promoting economic and social justice across the world and here in the U.S.A. I’ll do it on my own initiative with just a little assistance. Only a few folks happy to take a bit of time and small risks are required. A sense of humor and willingness to spend a night in the local lock-up are also essential. The staff at the police station are very accommodating and breakfast from McDonald’s is customarily served at 7AM, prior to the 8AM date in court. Don’t ask me how I know this.
Action Plan # 1: A Fugue in Ten Easy Pieces
  • Recruit at least one sympathetic lawyer and one doctor to lend their efforts to the action described below.
  • Recruit at least four folks willing to disrupt the local evening newscast that uses our city’s streets as a set to talk about how good business is, how swell the weather is, and how nice our fair city is, while ignoring the folks living on the street just out of the view of the news camera.
  • This can be done very simply. We only need to have four or more folks with large, readable signs standing in view of the camera behind the lovely newscaster. As the camera and lights are weighted down by sand bags, they cannot be moved once the location’s telecast has begun. All the camera will be able to see is our protest, our signs and our presence in front of Bank of America (twenty feet away). We needn’t say anything, chant, play bongos, or make any fuss but by simply standing on our own street.
  • A lawyer and a doctor should stand aside but able to clearly see, take notes, and record on video the unfolding, silent protest.
  • Protesters should be prepared to be asked to move by the news crew. We should remain in place. One designated individual may report to the camera that we are standing on our street, where we pay taxes, and we are only exercising the same rights as the local TV station.
  • If the cops are called, we must be prepared to be arrested, as mentioned above. Be polite with the officers. Repeat our statement made to the news crew. If told by an officer that we are being a public nuisance, ask how we can remedy the situation while not sacrificing our 1st and 4th Amendment rights to peaceful assembly, free speech, and the freedom from unlawful search and seizure.
  • If told by the officers that we may not remain on the sidewalk, state that there is no local ordinance against standing on the sidewalk (factually true). Again, be prepared to be arrested.
  • If arrested, be compliant. Thank the officers for their contribution to the cause (as this is being recoded, if not by the news crew by our doctor or attorney). The attorney will follow us to the local station and sort things out, if possible, or stay tuned to the upcoming morning’s court docket where he will represent us. He will also call the local print, television and Internet news outlets, offer the recording, his notes and comments.
  • If the evening local news crew has not delivered any news of the event, or even the lovely weather, the producer back at the station will be fuming mad with that crew. If they do tape the protest, that will be all the station has to use to fill the four minute hole in their evening program. Either way, we just took over the biggest broadcast outlet in the region.
  • If we do wind up in the clink and have to go to court in the morning, we will have a recording of the entire event, a doctor to report on the physical treatment of the detainees, a well dressed lawyer to argue for our rights… and one irritated judge wondering why his time is being taken up with a few citizens who did nothing but hold up some oak-tag on the street that they actually own. He may be irritated with us. He may be fed up with the cops that should be busy rounding up the kid that sold his own son some pot. Either way, again, we win. We just made the news.
So, who’s with me?
Res Ipsa Loquitor,