Occupy Sublimemonkey’s blog… thoughts over coffee

Matt and I just returned from Firehook and our coffee conversation is still in my head. These thoughts are not completely coherent, and not all of them are my own. Matt may blog about it too, if he does I will let you know. His thoughts will be definitely be better written.

Here are some of my thoughts on the Occupy Movement. *Note: I have a friend that, at the moment of this writing, is part of the Occupy Wall Street protest and is providing Facebook updates and videos. I wish her the best of luck and hope she is safe, however, I hope she understands there are prices associated with actions and convictions.

– I support the Occupy movement’s rights to free speech and assembly. This is not the Prague Spring, nor is it August 21, 1968, when Soviet forces rolled in to end the Czechoslovakian political reform movement. This is the United States of America, and there is a significant history of protest movements here. One significant difference between this protest movement and other American protests is that it is not filled with disenfranchised individuals; it is filled with people who do have other options. One may wonder what would be the result if the man hours used in protesting were transformed into political action such as petitioning Congress or working toward the election of politicians that are sympathetic toward the Occupy movement’s beliefs.

– The impact of these occupations will be negligible. Unless true political and societal changes result from these protests, this will just be another blip on the television screen. CNN and Fox are having a field day covering these events. If these protests do not result in votes, they will have been for naught.

– These occupations are not bringing attention to an ignored issue. White voters in the South during the 1950s and 1960s did not discuss segregation or voter disenfranchisement. Civil Rights protesting brought an ignored problem into American homes through television images of police dogs and fire hoses. Civil Rights protests were the only avenue. American voters are very aware of today’s fiscal realities… and it is being discussed. What is also being discussed is the drum circle. No one thought Civil Rights protesters were a joke, they were viewed as a threat. The Occupy movement is close to be considered it is nothing more than a joke, or a bad case of bored youths.

– If you are occupying a location, arrest or bodily harm is a significant risk. Believing and acting are things that shouldn’t be done lightly. If you are out for a good time, or interested in joining a mob mentality… you may be in for a surprise (that being a pair of zipper cuffs or a baton to the face). If the price is worth it… go for it, but don’t protest with a faint heart.

– When does your right to protest cross the line? Does affecting the daily life of other Americans qualify as a disqaulifier? If you destroy private and public property, are you causing more harm than good? I do not support a protest that hampers a single mom’s work commute. I definitely don’t support looting and vandalism. That would be hooliganism… this isn’t fucking England during a football match.

– If there are 10,000 protesters, then there are 10,000 different reasons for the protest. Picking up chicks would be my reason to attend a large-scale protest. Coherent mass movements are hard to manage… ask the Libyans and Egyptians.

– There is a hypocrisy in protests and politics, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it distracts. Yes, the Occupy movement is filled with individuals who are using corporate researched and produced smartphones. Yes, they are wearing Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy apparel. Yes, they are the recipients of the good life… but that doesn’t negate their views or their rights. It just shows how complicated this world, and living in a free society, can be. I would rather see a protester using a smartphone than a Christian protesting an abortion clinic while cheering the death penalty.

Thoughtful civil disobedience is a wonderful tradition in America… I hope the Occupy movement will be remembered as such.

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2 thoughts on “Occupy Sublimemonkey’s blog… thoughts over coffee”

  1. I think the Occupy movement is worthwhile, and necessary, though still moderately confused about its overall goals — but is the Tea Party so coherent? I am much more willing to give some leeway to a movement that seems to be motivated at its core with the well-being of others instead of primarily concerned with the timeless and myopic frustration that everyone has with paying taxes. But I’m a dirty commie hippie vegetarian, so of course that’s what I’d say.

    I also think this is a worthwhile form of expression because it brings more attention to an effectively ignored issue, and to the effects of poorly regulated (in some areas) capitalism. Just because the issue of income inequality isn’t one that manifests in obviously hateful physical things like separate water fountains doesn’t mean this isn’t a slow-motion disaster. And we can’t just think that because someone, somewhere, is paying attention to an issue that it’s really on the radar for policy makers. The issue has to be shoved to the front for some reason, in front of other issues, and if that reason is that people are motivated enough to get off the couch and hold up signs that occasionally make little sense but express a fundamental outrage about the direction their society is going in … well, great. There are many ways to take political action, and showing that you are willing to be arrested — hell, even that you’re willing to stand around and chant instead of going home and watching sitcoms — works toward elbowing the issue toward the front, where it needs to be. If commutes are messed up because of that, so be it; some people might be less inclined to agree with the movement because of that, but there’s no denying that it effectively attracts attention to the issue.

    And of course, even being a dirty commie hippie vegetarian (or maybe because of it), I disapprove of any vandalism or property destruction. That expresses something different: that whatever it is that is being physically attacked is beyond repair and change and therefore needs to be entirely destroyed. There have certainly been times in world history when that was the appropriate expression and action, but I don’t see that the Occupy movements really believe that about our country right now. Even Wall Street can be repaired.

    I believe that more damage has been done to political discourse in this country by the tenor adopted by professional pundits over the last 15 or 20 years, more than has been done by (relatively) peaceful demonstrations from the right or left. I don’t care to muzzle anyone, but I wish people would stop believing that listening to shrieking attacks based on half-truths, out-of-context numbers, and personal distrust is actual political discourse. Real political conversation involves stripping out the personal attacks on “hypocrites” who use iPhones during their Occupy campouts and listening to what they are trying to express, no matter how loud or stinky their drum circles get. And maybe it IS thousands of people trying to get laid. But most Americans won’t get up and protest because they aren’t getting laid — the dizzying array of free porn on the Internet makes staying home a better option for getting rid of that frustration. No, these protests are going to amount to something, even if it is only temporarily re-ordering our priorities, but I bet it’ll be something more permanent.

  2. i mostly agree with this.
    i would slightly disagree with your assertion that the ows movement is not bringing attention to an ignored issue. three months ago the national political discourse revolved around the budget deficit. it is only since ows gained traction that income inequality has entered the discussion.

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