Home > Uncategorized > Land of the Free, and Home of the Brave

Land of the Free, and Home of the Brave

There’s that whole saying about how “Life is like a sewer: what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.” And there are many ways that this is true, but one that had never occurred to me was recently brought to my attention by Zombie’s steadfast reports from the DNC.

The thought had been nagging around the periphery of my mind, but it finally clicked when Zombie captioned a picture of a perimeter of police on guard duty as follows:

In the protesters’ fantasy world, they were going to assault or invade the courthouse in some way, but several massive contingents of police guarded every entrance. In fact, overall, the police outnumbered the protesters.

Perhaps rather than the above trope about life, a more appropriate one for this situation would be, “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Essentially, when you’re part of a movement that violently protests what they perceive as a police state, you’ll be responded to with police.

Put another way, when you protest the law by breaking it, you’ll feel your argument is confirmed when the law punishes you.

But you don’t even have to try to Recreate 68 to run in to this sort of self-digging hole. Less radical, but still strongly-held convictions can lead to seeing injustices that may not actually be there. Shit, I’ve even done it:

I also notice that [newly-elected Cary Town Councilman Don Frantz] slipped a jeer against “forced year round conversions” into his statement on public school. After going through 13 years of year-round school, I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I also have yet to hear a compelling argument in favor of traditional calendars over year round, with their three month summers.

And through the magic of the internet, the very topic of discussion found his way to my blog and commented

I am glad to hear year round schools worked well for you. I know many others who also prefer the year round calendar over traditional. I also know many who do not. My issue is with the “forced” part of it. It should be a choice.

Although Frantz was expressing a sort of (little-“L”) libertarian position, (“It should be a choice.”) I took any attempt to impugn my dear year-round school straight to the heart and instantly saw a pro-traditional school viewpoint where none really existed.

This is largely why I so value my meetings with the Society of Independent Thought: it’s a good way to remind myself that not all those who disagree with me are irrational ideologues. It’s especially useful that it’s a face-to-face round-table meeting, as it tends to promote a certain air of civility (if it does make it harder to cite sources in the course of the discussion).

Randall Munroe was right when he published a comic that he captioned, “It’s easier to be an asshole to words than to people.”

But to get back to the anarchist versus police battles near the DNC in Denver, my first reaction was worry. Of course, that’s just a knee-jerk reaction to seeing a massive police force decked out in body armor doing a good job of looking menacing. After all, it’s a over-militarization of police forces that leads to small-town SWAT teams showing up to no-knock raids in mil-surp APCs.

But then what was really happening sunk in: a group was organizing with the express intent to disrupt the lawful functioning of our country, as (they hope, I suppose) a stepping stone to abolishing the government by force.

Well, damn. I’d want body armor and a riot shield too, in that situation. This isn’t a drug bust on a dealer who’s very likely no serious physical threat; this is a confrontation with a mob of people who think that a lawful arrest is inherently police brutality and that the only way to get their view across is with a fist or a gun.

I’m glad that America is the kind of place where militantly anti-government groups are only put down once they become violent. But I’m also glad that Denver is the kind of city that knew what sort of party was coming to town.

I don’t think I’d want to be on either side of that conflict, myself. Maybe documenting it the way Zombie is, but I’ll admit it: that mob of anarchists scares me.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Grandma
    August 30, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    It scares me, too. I’ve found myself lately appreciating anew the joys of living in a country which has a messy but overall wonderful democratic process where we all really do have a voice. And I cringe at the thought of some lunatic or group of lunatics trying to derail the process by violence.

    Thanks for the thoughtful and thought-provoking post.

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