Saturday, January 14, 2012

Poster Boy for the 21atCentury

It's not as bad as being shot dead by Syrian President Assad's "security" forces

or being in a crowd facing indiscriminate rifle fire

It's not as brave as South Yemeni standing up to live fire

It's not as brutal as Bull Connor in Birmingham in 1962, sicking police dogs on peaceful protesters

or Richard Nixon's military at Kent State:  four dead and dead forever

It's not as bad as being hanged by our country's friend, the King of the Saudis, for no more than being such as I and perhaps such you as you. . . .

But it's bad enough, and a harbinger.

From the Constitution of he United States of America:

Congress shall make no law   bridging . . . the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

What could be a more peaceable assembly than one sitting quietly?

On November 19, 2011, folks at a greet State University, the University of California at Davis , were sitting quietly, to petition for redress of grievances; and this happened:

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TimeWorld has an illuminating article on nonlethal methods used by them with the power to use 'em, to secure obedience to their wishes, whether their wishes be lawful or not.  

It is the nature of persons in authority to be displeased by those who disobey them.  "Nonlethal methods" is the modern way asserting that displeasure. "Democracies do not kill" intoned the Indian government after it killed protestors after the Mumbai riots; and the government instituted a series of "nonlethal methods" to be used instead; institutionalized their use.

If  one follows the Rule of Law -- the one thing that distinguishes us from dictatorships -- one who is thought to have violated a law is arrested, brought before a judge and a jury, tried fairly, and if but only if convicted, sentenced to a lawful punishment.

Nonlethal methods of crowd control dispense with all that falderal.  You are instantly punished, with no process at all, and more often than admitted, the punishment is death.

The Times article observes

The history of what is euphemistically called nonlethal pacification stretches back more than a century. The first official iteration was the Victorian policeman's truncheon, a heavy stick used to smack miscreants upside the head.

Read more:,8599,2009006,00.html#ixzz1jUodyCPe
We are now at the merest gentle beginning of the World to Come.    We now have tear gas (illegal at war but not in suburban Aina Haina), pepper spray, he horrible Taser, the water Canon (Where is Tom Lehrer, now that we really need him), and the army has developed a form of long-range microwave oven than can bake your skin at 700 feet if you are not obedient enough, nor obey quickly enough.  We are of course, not privy to other devices our representative Democracy has developed, nor that it's adversaries around the world are developing.

Well, we in this Country like to protest and like to do it with vigor; and we don't like to be told what to do by popinjays in blue suits.  Perhaps, in time, we'll get fed up and insist that we really, truly do have the right peaceably to assemble, to speak freely, to worship or not as we please, and not even mighty Google will be able to hinder us.

But if w don't, I give you 

The Poster Boy for the 21st Century!

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The New York Times today would have us look at the One Percenters not as a monolith but as a varied collection of individuals, some of whom are presented sympathetically and none as Malefactors of Great Wealth.  One striking point:  the One Percenters were not adversely affected by the Recession.  The Times article fits with the few wealthy folks I met in my law practice.

The "handmaidens of the wealthy", namely cops of all descriptions,are not monolithic, either,   One example from my practice, which I could multiply many times:  A cop said, in my office, with glee: " I put a druggie 's head through a fish bowl jut now."  A few moments he was in anguish because his wife wouldn't let him see his children, whom he love as much as he loved life.

When we see foes as discrete individuals and not as monoliths, organizing against them becomes hard.  And the necessity of opposing them, with their new techniques of humiliation, is self-evident.


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Someday it will be necessary to deal with the "legal pacification" of populations in Germany, Russia, China, Cambodia, and many other places, in the murderous 20th Century.  Pray, if you find there point in it, that the 21t doesn't give us different but equivalent horrors.  That's why I call Davis pepper spray a harbinger.

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We may no longer have Tom Lehrer, but we have artists with wit and imagination.  Some have had a field day with our Poster Boy.  If you would like o see some of their work,

For an effective photo montage of the UC Davis event, go to

Some artists views, below:

Th's the apparent contempt, I think, that's most disturbing.

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