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Violence for violence

November 20, 2011

In the face of police violence against non-violent protesters, Mike The Mad Biologist asks; Will Occupy Wall Street remain non-violent?

“I hope so. To morph into a violent movement would be both ethically wrong and tactically stupid…

What I fear is that, at some point, some activists will react violently, if justifiably so. Maybe a few people will decide to bring their own pepper spray and give the police a taste of their own medicine. Or maybe some students decide to burn the Chancellor out–let her know what they think of her. They will be frustrated that they did everything they were supposed to do–support the ‘right’ candidates, give Democrats working majorities, and so on–and nothing changed. When they engaged in one of the few avenues left, they received this:

My hunch is they WANT the protesters to become violent.

Recommending the whole article to you, I’ll just observe that in a modern state, the footsteps of Ghandi and Martin Luther King lead to victory.

Yesterday I got an automated phone call from the president of the National Rifle Association.  As I listened the recorded voice went off on how Obama was going to take all our guns and that our second-amendment rights “were not up for debate… not now, not ever!”  And to a certain, limited extent, the crazy has a point.  You wonder why didn’t the police beat Tea Party protesters?  My guess is they figured it would have turned into a shooting war. But that kind of “protection” has pretty severe limits.  (Go ahead, 2nd-amendment fans; imagine you pull a gun on the cop who wants to search your house for some BS reason.  Does he turn to leave, saying “Oh, I’m sorry – I didn’t realize you had an anti-tyranny shield!” Right.)

But if you want a weapon that will win the war as opposed to the battle, it’s hanging around the necks of those people in the background of the picture.  These are the tools of the First Amendment, which is crystal-clear about free speech.  The camera, the smart phone, the computer – the Internet – corporate greed wasn’t the only motive for SOPA.  The Powers That Be want to be able to take pictures like this one down without even a court order, just by making a copyright claim.  The claim doesn’t even need merit.

Somewhere in one of my books by Arthur C. Clarke – I cannot find it right now – he describes a scene in which the police or some soldiers commit some awful assault, and a bystander sends the video out from a wireless device.  The camera is confiscated and smashed, and its owner arrested or shot, but it is too late – the video is already  available all over the world. I think the book was written in the 1960′s.

Tyrants worry only slightly about opposing armies, but they’re not afraid of your handgun.  That .357 is a bigger hazard to your family than it will ever be to them.  There is only one thing that tyrants are afraid of, and it’s the light of day, falling on their corruption and mendacity.  Suddenly the fiction that they are our protectors is shattered.  Suddenly we know what they really are.

It’s the First Amendment for a reason, folks.  Keep it strong: exercise it.  And give your legislators no rest whenever it is in danger.


  • Public Library Of Science (PLOS) on The Chemistry of Pepper Spray
  • Photographing uniformed cops in action is actually a felony in Illinois.  The law is making its way through the courts, however, and isn’t doing well.  I hope to see it rescinded soon.
Categories: Uncategorized
  1. WeeDram
    November 21, 2011 at 06:08 | #1

    A felony to photograph uniformed cops conducting their job in IL? My god, that’s insane. I’d love to do my part to get it rescinded.

  2. dof
    November 21, 2011 at 08:47 | #2

    The ACLU is fighting it of course – I directed my SECA donation there this year.

  3. Paul Sunstone
    November 22, 2011 at 18:47 | #3

    It’s not just Illinois. There are similar laws against videoing on duty police in several states.

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