Tuesday, November 22, 2011

To Serve and Pepper Spray

Hello everyone.

In my last post, I wrote about how ridiculous I thought it was that our weather forecast called for 1-3 inches of snow, and yet we had a Winter Storm Warning. Well, as it turned out, we actually got about a foot and a half of snow, which of course is much more Winter Storm Warning worthy, but quite different than "1-3 inches." And on top of that, we got another 4-6 inches of snow yesterday morning. But then last night the air warmed up and it began to rain, so now everything is a big slushy, sloppy mess.

Every so often when chunks of the wet snow slide off the roof and hit the ground, it makes a big booming sound that scares Tucker. I told him it was just snow and it happens all the time, and that it didn't seem to bother him last year when he was just a little puppy, but he seems skeptical. I even took him outside to inspect the piles that had just fallen off the roof for himself, and all he did was pick up a big chunk of ice with his mouth and run around the yard like a cuckoo bird.  Of course, he liked to do that all the time in the summer, too, except he'd have a pine cone in his mouth instead of an ice chunk.  At least he sticks with what he knows best.

Occupy News

In case you haven't heard, here's the latest. Some UC Davis students decided to form their own Occupy group and pitch tents on their campus to protest, among other things, the steep rise in tuition California students are facing. When the campus cops told them to leave, they refused and locked arms to form a human chain. A cop then hosed them down with pepper spray at close range. Here's a video taken from four separate perspectives:



Good thing those campus cops were there in full riot gear to protect the students from the scourge of their seated classmates, eh?

Despite what Megyn Kelly says, pepper spray is potentially lethal, and "U.S. troops fighting overseas are banned from using it in combat by international treaty." It's pretty bad stuff. If Megyn Kelly really thinks it's a harmless "food product," I'm sure she'd have no problem letting someone spray a generous portion of it all over her face.

I'll let you, the reader, fill in the space after the last sentence with the obvious joke. I choose to rise above that sort of juvenile humor. Unless it's a joke about poop or farts. Those are always hilarious.

Anyway, pepper spray is designed to cause great pain and/or blindness. Normally something designed to cause pain and/or failure of one's basic bodily functions is considered a torture device. But when it's cops/military/government doing the torturing, people tend to be really good at coming up with ways to justify it.  We love our obedience to authority, don't we?

I've been reading online comments from people excusing the cops' actions by claiming that the cops were just doing their job and that the students were breaking the law. Except I've yet to see anyone point out exactly what law they were breaking. The closest I've seen is a quote from the college chancellor claiming the students were "violating university rules." But university rules aren't exactly the same as the law, no?

The First Amendment is supposed to guarantee the right to peaceably assemble, and the video makes it clear that's exactly what these students were doing. They were sitting down, arms locked. They weren't even chanting or yelling, for crying out loud. Even more, this was a protest by students on their own campus, and if anyone had a right to be there, it was them.

But let's assume the students were breaking some mythical law. How does that justify what happened here?  The justification for cops to carry pepper spray (or a gun, or a Taser, or a nightstick) is to protect themselves against threats. But how much paint thinner does one have to inhale to be deluded enough to think a dozen or so unarmed kids sitting on the ground pose any sort of threat to armed cops in full riot gear?  Also, why were the people sitting down the only ones targeted? After all, if simply being on campus is a crime deserving of chemical weapons to the face, why don't you see the cops pepper spraying all the students standing around watching? There were certainly a lot more of them than the dozen or so sitting down.


If you support the cop's actions, you have nothing to complain about if you get pepper sprayed the next time you get pulled over for speeding.  It's that simple.

The only crime committed at UC Davis that day was not by the students, but by the pepper-spraying cops. It was about crushing a Constitutionally-protected protest before it picked up steam. As Glenn Greenwald noted, this is all about intimidating others into submission and silence.

See, unlike other countries that outright ban free speech and free expression, our government pretends to allow it. And as long as people engage in the "right kind of free speech," the kind that can be manipulated and exploited by those who actually run the country, the corporate shills who dominate our media and political discourse will sing the praises of the First Amendment. But when people actually engage in free speech that threatens said status quo, the full force of the state will come down on the people in the form of pepper spray, tear gas, nightsticks, flash grenades, and skull-cracking rubber bullets to the face. We're seeing it now.

The administrators at UC Davis (along with the faculty, students, and cops) should consider themselves fortunate that the students didn't riot after the pepper spraying. People tend to respond to violence with more violence, even nonviolent protesters. If the cops keep up this type of behavior (and since they take orders from politicians, I expect more of the status quo), people are going to react. It's going to get ugly(er).

Pressure is on the chancellor to resign. Her walk of shame was caught on video. The cop who did the spraying was put on leave (with pay, naturally) while he's being investigated. I'd be shocked if anything happens to him. I don't even expect a slap on the wrist. He'll likely be back pepper spraying lawful protesters in no time. That's what happens in a police state.

Or maybe something will come out of this.  Maybe some real changes will happen.  Time will tell.

I would be remiss if I didn't point out one cool thing to come out of this: an awesome internet meme.

Here's one more thing I want to discuss. This photo has been making its way around the interwebs:


As I've mentioned before on this blog, for every job that's available, five people are looking for one. That's just the official numbers--the actual number is likely much higher. Also, that doesn't include people who already have a job, but whose job doesn't pay enough, so they're looking for a replacement or second job.

The point is this: the problem isn't that people don't want to work--it's that there aren't enough jobs. The people protesting are not to blame for this fact. They're not looking for a handout. They just don't want to be doomed to a life of poverty and debt servitude. In fact, the only demanding a handout are the Wall Street scumbags that tanked the economy then demanded a bailout.

Of course, I shouldn't be surprised that so many people have the basic premise behind the Occupy movement wrong given that our corporate media is not in the business of informing people, but rather selling corporate advertisements. I'm sure the lack of information and abundance of misinformation is even worse for the soldiers stationed overseas. Hence the sign. Don't believe it, though.

And Now, A Musical Interlude

Tortoise is my favorite instrumental band, and one of my overall favorites, instrumental or otherwise. Here's a set from one of their shows in Europe:



Reading Materials: 
  • I linked to this earlier, but Glenn Greenwald is always a must-read, and definitely worth two links in one blog post.
  • Pepper-spraying is not limited to California and New York.  This story combines my interest in the Occupy movement and my interest in photography.
  • A pregnant woman miscarried after being kicked and pepper sprayed during a Seattle protest.  Where is the "pro-life" crowd calling for murder charges against Seattle's finest?
  • An NYC cop pushed and threatened to arrest a woman who had identified herself as a legal observer.  That legal observer also happens to be a New York Supreme Court judge.
  • Matt Taibbi shows how much injustice there is in our system.
  • Scott Olsen, the Oakland victim of a rubber bullet to the head, is now up and out of the hospital.
  • Obama gets mic checked during a speech.  I'm sure that won't stop the usual gang of idiots from claiming the Occupy movement is really a Marxist/Muslim/Socialist/Kenyan plot funded by George Soros and ACORN to create chaos in the streets in order to destroy capitalism and force our kids to get gay married to illegal immigrants and have semi-annual taxpayer-funded abortions.
  • Amazon customers comment on the brand of pepper spray used at UC Davis.  Hilarity ensues.
  • One of the reasons I'm all but done with Facebook these days (though I admit I do sometimes lurk).
  • What happens when an elementary school teacher catches a boy and a girl smooching during PE class?  Well, the school calls the cops to see if they should investigate it as a sex crime, of course.
  • Here's a handy chart to help illustrate the relative value of money.
  • Rand Paul: "Millionaires and billionaires pay all the taxes."  I guess the next time I'm at the store, I'll just tell the cashier, "I don't have to pay the sales tax because I'm not a millionaire or billionaire.  Hey, Senator Paul said so!"
  • Black Friday is coming up.  Most of what you know about it is probably untrue.
  • This article debunks myths found in an article that supposedly debunked myths about eating local food
  • Every time an Oregon Ducks fan makes the "O" hand signal, he or she is also making the sign language symbol for "vagina."  Seriously.
  • Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has a knack for pointing out the obvious.
In Closing

We're having Thanksgiving at our place this year.  I'm going to attempt to barbecue a turkey.  I've never tried such a thing before.  Hell, I've never cooked a turkey in the oven before.  So it should be interesting.  If it turns out to be a complete disaster, you'll probably hear all about it right here on Rob Dow's World.  So stay tuned.

Now here it is, your moment of Tucker (and Cleocatra):

"It's too cold to play outside."
Rob

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home