<= 2003.07.31

2003.08.02 =>

so far from god

Efraín Ríos Montt, born-again Christian and former Guatemalan dictator (1982-83) who ought to be hung, drawn, and quartered for the baldest case of genocide in Latin American history since the Spanish conquest, who led daily televised prayer services as the helicopters dropped their payloads, whom Reagan once called "a man of great personal integrity," is running for president again. He could even win. These things happen.

Missive from Marlowe:

"Free speech" is a great summary of the First Amendment, but it has never adequately described the underlying concept. Since the day after Constitution was ratified, courts have been involved in an effort to balance the need for public order, peaceable assembly and "redress of greivances." The general doctrine we've arrived at is best summed—again, weakly—through the phrase "time, place and manner." In short, the government may—and has always—restricted protest (i.e., the redress of greivances) based upon any number of factors—when, where, who it is, what's their bitch, etc. Usually, this is a simple a proposition as telling someone, "Bobby, I know you want to tell us all about George Bush's reptilian connections, but this is a math class, and we're doing quadratic equations today. So now you may shut the fuck up." Or, better, you can't block the steps to city hall just because you don't like the mayor. Which is the nut: because human brains and prejudices are involved in the process, you get restricted protests depending upon who's in power and what it is they want to hear about least.

Since JFK, no protestors (except when Nixon actually went out on his own without the SS to engage them at the Lincoln Memorial) have had access or close proximity to the objects of their protests. Blame rifles and scopes, not malfeasance. The interesting thing here—and the real significance of the moaning you read on things like warblogging.com or whatever—is that elites on both sides of our political equal sign have, very Orwellianly, taken the opportunity to frame the issue in terms of "respecting [the protestors'] right to have their say." The implicit promise in "redress of greivances" is that once you've had your say, the government justifies its policies or changes them. That's what redress means. Since the debate has shifted from policy change to "access," well-meaning activists get bogged down in permit-application hell, and stuffed into TV cameraless ghettos. Our leaders feel no need to listen to critics, and have no desire to see them. That, not being told to go get in the protester's pen, is the real injustice. The activist community gets led astray pretty easily. Aside from actually VOTING, or taking up arms, the most effective forms of protest, therefore, are economic and small-scale—that is to say, refusals to lie or be silent, as hard as that may be, and poolings of resources to effect financial leverage. For instance, what if Harvard's endowment foundation at $20 Billion (that's with a B) dumped its Haliburton equities? Its students and alumni, many of whom lean compassionate, could get that done if they really wanted to. Or what if the Gates foundation and CNN put up a standing $5 mil "news bounty" for concerned citizens to report things like Enron and Total Information Awareness before they even get going?

But things like that take organization, skill, understanding and savvy, and worst of all, time. They're nowhere near as expedient or fun as getting stoned, yelling at the police, howling about misunderstood "rights", or throwing a trash can through a Starbucks window.

 

<= 2003.07.31

2003.08.02 =>

up (2003.08)

The Warm South
The Roof Rat Review