Protesters Are Heroes


  You really think carrying a sign might be an "implicit symbol of
aggression"??? What about writing a letter to the editor? Wearing a
provocative t-shirt? Speaking forcefully at a public meeting? Could
*any* of our free speech rights get by according to such a standard
without being tainted by some association with the threat of violence?

  I would also like to point out that it is virtually *always* possible
to work within the system. People who were arguably decent human beings
did so even under the Nazi and Soviet regimes. It is simply a question
of how much oppression you are willing to tolerate while remaining
peaceful yourself. If the American founders could be transplanted into
the present, I expect that they would consider it past time for a
violent revolution. I am not advocating such a course of action, but I
think it's a helpful thought experiment to put things in perspective.

Yours in liberty,
        <<< Starchild >>>

Very useful analysis,Chris. I agree with you that first level rallies
are OK. Tabling, distributing flyers, candlelight vigils, are all
fine with me. However, in my own personal opinion the minute you
carry a sign (implicit symbol of aggression?), you step into level
two; and I would only use levels two and up very, very sparingly --
as I said, when I perceive that working within the political system
is impossible.


--- In, "Christopher R. Maden"
<crism@m...> wrote:

Hash: SHA1

I think that, regardless of one's position on their efficacy, it's
important to distinguish between levels of protest activity. I see



1) Rally: like we do on the Ides of April, a rally is a legal,
non-disruptive awareness-raising event. This is used quite

effectively by

the left in SF; any time there's a MMJ case heard, or a marriage


milestone, or a labor issue, folks rally on Civic Center or the
courthouse. This demonstrates to those uninvolved that there are
supporters of the issue, and is a good opportunity for the media


passers-by to learn more.

2) Non-violent disruption: like the anti-war protests that took

over the

streets or like Critical Mass, these protests are arguably legal,

but even

if not, no one is directly hurt by them. These demonstrate massive


for an issue, and send a signal to the powers that be that business


usual should not continue. There is also a veiled threat - not


of violence, perhaps just of non-re-election - that with this many
supporters of a cause, politicians had better watch their steps.

3) Civil disobedience: like the folks at the PO in SoCal or like

the SCLC

in the '60s, people peacefully and intentionally breaking bad laws

with the

intent of arrest sends a clear message about their priorities and


willingness to undergo discomfort to draw attention to these bad
laws. Done right, it is an excellent tool to draw public attention


sympathy. However, there is the danger of being perceived as

a "whiner";

attempts to change the law through the system should have been


before pursuing this, otherwise public opinion will likely go

against the


Personally, I think rallies are always OK. If overdone, the public


out on the issue and starts ignoring you, but I don't think there's


danger of misperception. More specifically, I think they are fine

for a

political party.

Non-violent disruption is a powerful tool and should be used

sparingly; the

people whose business is disrupted may forgive it once or twice for


burning issue, but will begin to be annoyed by the petty discomfort


than they are sympathetic to the cause. I am not sure that these

should be

done by a political party per se, since the party works within the


and this is by definition a deviation from the system. An analogy -


terrible one, but the only one that comes to mind - is Sinn Fein

and the

IRA. There may be the same people in both activities, but one

should be

the in-the-system body and the other the cross-the-system group.

Civil disobedience should be used even more precisely and
sparingly. However, it's more appropriate for a political party in


ways than disruption is, at least in cases where there is doubt

about how

the system works vs. how it's supposed to work. Examples are the


arrests and Badnarik's and Cobb's arrests in St. Louis; freedom of


and freedom of assembly are inherently political freedoms, and if

they are

denied to political bodies, they are pointless. Civil disobedience

to draw

attention to those facts can be very powerful.

Then there's always 4) violence. Starbucks-smashers are just


using politics (instead of racism or football) as their excuse.

This stage

should be reserved for when the system has utterly failed and it's

time to

actually overthrow the system by violent revolution. At this

point, it's

definitely not a political party any more.

- --
Chris Maden, geek and gadfly: <URL: >
"Can [man], then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have
  we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him?" ~TJeff
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