02 July 2010

Uncivil Rest

I've been mostly avoiding commentary on the G20 since I wasn't there, but I've gotten sucked in to the accusations. I spent most of this afternoon reading the account of someone who was detained, watching related videos, and playing catchup. Here are my conclusions:

1 - If the accusations of misbehaviour have any validity, then some police need investigating. The police are supposed to defend and protect us all, even detainees. Threats of rape, beatings, and other horribleness are not proper police behaviour, they are the actions of power-mad bullies. They are the acts of criminals and are every bit as vile as burning police cars and trashing businesses

2 - There is a recurring theme from 'innocent' protesters, the non-violent ones. That theme is "we weren't doing anything!" Well, yes, I noticed that. I noticed a lot of regular protesters following or walking beside the black bloc, watching their destruction, not egging them on but not interfering. Yes, you weren't doing nuthin. No one so much as raised a voice to say "Put down that brick, don't set that car on fire, stop trashing the media vehicles." You were there. You could have stopped them. You didn't. That makes you complicit.

And don't say "that's the cop's job"; you didn't much like the way the cops did their job. And the defense of our community against madmen is the responsibility of us, the citizens. If you don't want to be involved, then stay the fuck home. If you want to protest peacefully, then keep the others in line. If not, go home and write letters. You cannot watch violence happen and pretend you are not involved. You are. As a member of a community, as a citizen, as one entitled to those rights you proudly claim, you have a responsibility. You bear the responsibility to act when you seen injustice, not just globally, but locally.

How to act in the face of violence? You shout out for the offenders to stop. You go to the nearest officer and report. You use your iphone to call 911. You gather your own group and peacefully surround the criminals to prevent them doing harm. You enlist help from bystanders. At very least, you leave the area and make sure that those who will act are not distracted by you. If you want to watch, go home and watch the news. Stay out of the way until the unrest is properly over. Not over for now, not over for this afternoon, over for good.

3 - Your arguements against global corporations may be valid, but they have nothing to do with the owner of that Starbucks, or the fry-guy at the MacDonalds. You may hate capitalism, loath commercialism, despism multinational corporations, and you are entitled to your opinion, and to express it. But what about that business owner with all the broken windows? Who is going to help him fix it? Not insurance; insurance policies do not cover civil unrest. When he has to close down for repairs, how will his staff get paid? Those people working for minimum wage, how will they make rent after losing a weeks pay? And what about you? Where will you get your morning coffee now? These businesses exsist because the community uses them. And, despite what you may think about logos and branding, each of these is a franchise - an independantly owned business which provides services and jobs for the community. The community you just helped destroy.

4 - Stop bitching about costs. Oh, security cost this much! And it didn’t work! Well, guess what? If more money was spent on security, if more police were on the streets, you would complain bitterly about the cost. If there was less spent, you would complain about feeling unsafe. If no money was spent, if there were no police, that mob would rampage through the city and you can be sure property would not be the only things hit. Do not delude yourself: there is no such thing as an ethical mob or a controlled riot. The contained damage was a simple result of the presence of police. Because of them, the black bloc had to change out of their costumes and into street clothes to avoid arrest. Without security, they would have continured until buildings were burning and people hurt and killed. You can bet it is a very short leap from throwing a brick through a franchise window to deciding that anyone wearing a logo is a collaborator and supporter. Then that mod will be after your nikes.

While we are on the topic of costs, how much do you think it will cost to replace the police cruisers and CBC vans? Where’s that money going to come from? From you, dumbass. The police and the media are not enemies, they are not some secret society designed to control us. They are us! Our taxes pay for these services, pay the police to protect us and the media to inform us. You went to a party and burned the couch, and the party was at your place.

5 - Stop bitching about your rights. Your individual rights do not take precedence of the rights of the community. In times of unrest, we must all surrender our rights so that those we have entrusted can restore order. Sure, being in a holding tank for a day or a week sucks if you are innocent. But that is the price you pay for having someone else protect you. That is the price of being part of a society. When the mob takes over, your charter rights will not be worth the price of a free call. If you want those rights, want to exercise those rights, then you have to acknowledge that you only get those rights through being a part of society. Once you have stepped outside of society, you don’t get those rights. You get nothing.

Despite what we may wish, legislate, or even swear, there is no such thing as an inalienable right. Rights are offered by communities. When societies collapse, there are no rights. Look at any area torn by war. The raped and murdered had no rights. The rapists and murderers felt no compulsion to grant any rights. Only when order is restored and society reformed can rights be granted to the victim and punnishment to the guilty. If you don’t believe that, try stopping a bullet with your passport.

If you want your rights, then you need to protect them. You need to be part of society. And that means acting in the interest of society. Protesting injustice is one way. Preventing violence is another. Protect your society, guard your rights, and then you can safely work towards helping other communities.

You want to be responsible global citizens? Start by being responsible period. Fix some windows. Take up a collection to pay the staff. Get a brush and scrub off some graffitti. Make the point that destruction of our community will not help anyone elses community. As the slogan goes, think globally, act locally.

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