Thursday, September 4, 2008

Well, crap.

Over the last week or two, I've been reading (and watching) the coverage of the conventions and their attendant protests. The cops in both cities have over-reacted. In Denver we had this, for example:

Nice, eh? An NBC reporter was arrested for... um... something nasty, I'm sure.

Then at the RNC, we have Amy Goodman (Democracy Now anchor and pacifist) arrested:


We have "flower girl" pepper sprayed:



So after all this, I was thinking about my constitutional rights. Assembly, expression and all that kind if hippie stuff. I decided to pull out the new toy (iPod touch) that I had loaded with the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, so I could read what the founding fathers had to say about the whole protesting the government thing. What did I see? Well, I'll tell you that I had a fleeting moment of panic when I saw this:



Says it all, don't it?

2 comments:

James said...

Slow down there cowboy. I took the same classes as you at CA, and I remember learning critical thinking. If we look a little more closely, all of these videos amount to one simple thing: people being stupid.

First you show us the NBC reporter. It's obvious that the cop is trying to get the reporter to move along and the reporter is ignoring the cop and talking on his cell phone. Everyone knows, ignoring a cop is a great way to get yourself arrested. Had the reporter responded to the cops differently that episode would have ended differently.

Next, you show us Amy Goodman being arrested. Prior to her arrest, two of Amy's staffers were arrested when they put themselves in the path of cops who were trying to control a protest that was rapidly deteriorating towards a riot. Amy then decided to go down and "ask" the cops to let her staffers go. But that's not how things work in the real world. What Amy should have done is go to the courthouse and ask the judge to let her staffers go. Cops exist for a specific purpose--and arguing the merits of a person's arrest isn't it. Amy was there to argue with the cops, and that's what got her arrested.

Finally, you show us some simpleton who thinks that standing in front of a line of advancing riot cops is going to be OK because she's holding a flower. WTF? Where is the logic in that? She isn't some 60s radical facing down the cops to fight racism--she's an idiot with a flower who got in the way and got maced for her trouble. As has been said before, you mess with the bull and you'll get the horns. No matter how hard I try, that video doesn't evoke even the slightest sense of moral outrage in me.

As for the "hippie stuff" you were thinking about afterwards, the rights people in this country are guaranteed don't include the right to be assholes to cops. It's disingenuous to just point at all the cops and arrests and make it out to be a police state. If you take a step back from your emotional response, you start to realize that the cops weren't there because they wanted to mess with protesters, they were there because it's their job to maintain order in the streets and enforce the laws in this country. They did their jobs, people got arrested and those people's rights were not infringed. The fact of the matter is, interfering with a cop is illegal. If you don't like it, fight to change the law, but until then you can't act all shocked when someone gets arrested for breaking the law.

Now, I'm not saying the city's response of providing a heightened police presence was necessarily right, but when you find yourself in a place with a heightened police presence, doing stupid things and annoying cops isn't an effective way to express your displeasure. It makes about as much sense as poking an angry bear with a sharp stick because you don't like the color of his fur. The bear's not going to change color, but you are going to get mauled.

--James

Lab Boy said...

People being stupid, in and of itself is not an arrestable offense, so that's a non sequitur.

As for the NBC reporter, yes, the cop was trying to get him to move along. Why? Was he doing anything? There is no evidence in the video either way. I have read, after I posted this, that he was in front of the Brown Palace, and that they own the sidewalk in front of their property. That seems unusual, but it's an old building and there may be grandfathered laws that I don't know about.

There are many things I take issue with in this episode. If the reporter was on private property, the cop should have informed him of that. If the reporter was on public property, what was the reason to ask him to move along? Why did the cop not usher him out of the immediate area along the sidewalk rather than into the street (where he could be arrested from blocking traffic)?

"Had the reporter responded to the cops differently that episode would have ended differently."

Had the cops responded professionally, the entire episode could have been avoided.

Amy crossed the line... they told her to return to the sidewalk. As she was being pushed to the sidewalk, trying to ask questions, she was arrested. The clip doesn't even show what she wanted to ask. Her fault was turning around on her way to the sidewalk. The cops couldn't have continued encouraging her toward the sidewalk? What is the evidence that she was even arguing with the cops? Are you sure she was asking them to let her staffers go, or would she have asked where they were headed? There is none of that information in the clip. Do you have a different clip? If so I would like to see it, as i try to be evidence-based.

As for the "simpleton" holding the flower, well, yeah. That's civil disobedience. I applaud her for it, but, she was committing an arrestable offense. Good for her. The moral outrage that you seem to have read into the posting of that video was not there. She's an 00's radical facing down something she feels is unjust. Got maced? That's part of civil disobedience. We were in the same class, didn't you finish your Thoreau?

"As for the "hippie stuff" you were thinking about afterwards, the rights people in this country are guaranteed don't include the right to be assholes to cops. It's disingenuous to just point at all the cops and arrests and make it out to be a police state.

I never said it was a police state. The cops were there to maintain the peace. They overstepped their purview.

"When you find yourself in a place with a heightened police presence, doing stupid things and annoying cops isn't an effective way to express your displeasure. It makes about as much sense as poking an angry bear with a sharp stick because you don't like the color of his fur. The bear's not going to change color, but you are going to get mauled.

Understood. It all goes back to civil disobedience, doesn't it? Why the fuck should I respect the bear? Sometimes that bastard needs to be poked! And forcefully!

Mostly, the post was about the software fuckup that lead to the funny picture. It's a good argument, though.

Keep it coming!