November 22nd, 2011 / 4:41 pm

We Can’t Sit This One Out

At UC Davis, students protested nonviolently, the campus police responded, an officer casually sprayed a group of student  sitting their arms interlocked, like plants, he became a meme and, along with the police chief, was placed on leave. Many people in many places expressed outrage, students participated in a powerful, silent protest. Assistant Professor Nathan Brown wrote an open letter to Katehi expressing his outrage. The UC Davis English department has changed their website so that the header issues a call for the chancellor, Linda Katehi, to resign and for the police force to be disbanded. On a national faculty mailing list I’m on, a member issued a call to action stating, “We cannot sit this one out.” During turbulent times, writers often ask themselves, how do we write about this? How do we respond? What is our responsibility to social change? How do we participate and avoid sitting this one out? Poet Robert Hass wrote a New York Times editorial that has been widely read and lauded but he also avoided sitting this one out because he and his wife were at the Berkeley protest. As writers, do you feel a need to respond to what happened at UC Davis, or UC Berkeley, or at any of the occupy movements? Do you feel the need to physically participate in these protests? Why and how?


  1. Nick Moran

      I think the loudest and most enduring demand of the OWS movement will — over time — become the call for elimination of student loan debt and a total reform of higher education in America. These reforms shouldn’t apply to students alone; the lack of tenure-track teaching positions needs to be addressed, and so does the disproportionate ballooning of every college’s administrative staff. It’s excellent, brave, and altogether admirable that Nathan Brown is a non-tenured member of the UC Davis faculty. His letter demonstrates a practical and potent way for writers (faculty and non-) to spur change and to support the movements. More of this needs to be done.

  2. Darby Larson

      “like plants” haha. like plants who amazingly arranged themselves shoulder to shoulder to block a path. its not really “non-violent” if you are putting yourself in the way of something you anticipate a collision with and you refuse to move.

      still, pepper spray effects are temporary, whats the big deal. why do we jump up and declare revolution everytime someone pricks our finger? the chancelor apologized even though she didnt spray them. the sprayer and chief were put on leave, that’s enough justice for me. whats for dinner.

  3. Michael

      I just wish we’d have this same level of moral outrage when poor people get their asses kicked by the cops.  Not too long ago, a homeless schizophrenic was beaten to death in CA. Did anyone care? 

      I don’t mean to minimize this situation, but it’s interesting to gauge the level of moral outrage when college students are pepper-sprayed vs. more brutal acts of police terrorism–esp. in the same state. 

  4. Michael

      Yeah, again, where’s the moral outrage on a national stage when poor people are killed by the cops? 

  5. Elizabeth Clark
  6. Darby Larson

      i’ve read similar debate about pepper spray elsewhere. fair point though, i agree they could use something slightly less toxic and still achieve what they are trying to do.

  7. Somefucker

      This is kind of general thought about the dynamics between the police and protesters. You would think that the police, and especially those in charge of the police force, would look at history and modern technology and realize that they can’t get away with bullying anymore.

      You would think they would learn from the 60’s, that the first cop, on youtube, caught abusing his power would send a message to the police force. You would think that this message would be “look you cant beat people up, unnecessarily pepper spray them in the face and hit them in the head with batons, and tear gas canisters. It’s no longer your word against theirs. These things are being caught on tape, and you will be asked to justify your bullying behavior.”

      But nope, it’s as if the police force has this attitude of entitlement. It’s cliche to talk about all cops as having the “asshole attitude” but I’m really to begin to wonder if the asshole attitude is a psychological side effect of the job.

      The police have an attitude problem and it’s showing big time in the way they handle these protests.

  8. Noah McGee

      You’d think that they’d learn, but instead it seems to be going the other way, police seeing authority as black and white, worrying more about how to control the situation than understand it and coming to an understanding with protesters and occupiers, hell, with drug dealers and prostitues, with poor people and minorities.

      Former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper sees it as a direct result of the militarization of police, partly from the drug war and partly from a post-9/11 mentality: 

  9. karltaro

      those cops were in a terrible position. i try to imagine it from their pov. they were ordered to break the damn thing up.  if they back down and walk away, they get belittled, chanted at, made to feel like losers and get dressed down for not accomplishing their mission. if they pepper spray the kids, well, we know what happens then. they had no good option, and it seems they chose the worse of the two. it’s funny, but of the two groups in that confrontation, the cops or the kids, almost all of us would choose to be the kids. which makes me wonder which group was actually in the more powerful position. everyone is viewing this as an abuse of power, I would argue that cops were actually in the weaker position all along.

  10. Matthew Simmons

      What they are trying to do is get a group of nonviolent students to move off a sidewalk. “Pain compliance” should not be an option in that situation. Everyone on that sidewalk would’ve allowed themselves to be picked up and carried off. The “something slightly less toxic” should’ve been their hands.

  11. Nick Moran
  12. MJ

      How many people here have had run ins with cops?

      How many have had multiple run ins with cops?

      How many have had to run from the cops?

      How many have had to stand up to some cops?

      How many know a cop or a member of law enforcement?

      Answer those questions then begin formulating some ideas, I think.

  13. Hank

      Darby does well in pointing out the utter uselessness of “non-violent” protest. 

  14. Elizabeth Clark

      Ya, non-violent protest is sooo useless

  15. tm

      Huh? Darby, I’d say that is exactly what non-violent protest is. Unless I’m missing something intended in your post, I’d refer you to Ghandi / Dharasana Satyagraha.

  16. tm

      Too slow.

  17. 6BatofMoon9

      I dunno; they came dressed for a riot.

  18. Leapsloth14

      1. Run-in with cops is pretty abstract, but I assume “run-in” is beyond being pulled over. So I’ll say 3 times.
      2. See above.
      3. 2 of 3 times. I used to shoplift. Two times I ran, hard. Running is absolutely the right idea. Always, when this level of crime. Was not caught X 2. Free even now.
      4. WTF does that mean? I’m getting a Chuck Norris feel…Jesus. Posit a better question.
      5. Zero.

  19. tm

      Post your ss# while you’re at it.

  20. Nick Moran

      My sympathy for the cops and their “rock and a hard place” circumstance ends when I think about all the other ways they could’ve dispersed that little group of protesters. Nobody made that officer pepper spray the kids. The cops (who easily outnumbered the seated students) could have pulled them apart using their hands.

      There’s also the idea that, I don’t know, the cops could’ve reported back to the chancellor that the kids (they are supposed to protect) were not threatening anyone and therefore could remain where they were. As we see at the end of the infamous pepper spraying video, that’s pretty much what the cops end up ceding anyway: they back away, leaving the roadway just as “occupied” as it had been before.

  21. deadgod

      How often have “those in charge of the police force” actually not gotten away with “bullying”?  –as a percentage of the total times “those” have abused their administration of the legal monopoly on “bullying” enjoyed by peace officers?

      Is there too much optimism about the socially ameliorative effects of ‘sunshine’ as a tool at the service of our responsibility to guard the guardians of our liberties.

  22. deadgod

      That’s compassionate in a reasonable way, and, in comparing those sitters-on-the-walkway who won’t suffer any lasting damage from the cayenne (or whatever) to the cops who are morally sane, it might be that the cops were “in the weaker position all along”.

      –but what about the relative positions of strength in the conflict between “Wall Street” and the middle and working-poor classes in general?  Who’s in “the weaker position” in the cases of the police officers’ retirement planning and the affordability of tertiary education?

  23. deadgod

      I wish the protesters at the many venues were more emphatic–eh, I mean more successful–in including the cops in their arguments and even in their protests.

      –why, look at the state-misgovernment protests in Wisconsin and Ohio:  can the cops in Manhattan and at Davis not be shown that they, too, are treated as enemies by “Wall Street”? – that their rational, organic place is in coalition with, say, post-Prop. 13 public-school students?

  24. Ryan Call


  25. Laura Carter

      The cops are not all bad… “the” is a generalization, of course, and I once met a nice campus cop at a university I taught at whose daughter was a poet. Etc. But in this case, the rhetoric of the movement, and speaking from a fstrictly rhetorical place, is important. This is a visible and quite organized “thing,” to call it that. So there’s a different precedent, I think. Admittedly, politics and protest is something I care about, but I can also understand the need (as a friend of mine says) to see the world as slightly absurd and incomprehensible and give up on figuring out who to blame. Which is awesome, actually, and makes sense on a different level.

      There’s no need to come out with a sweeping statement like “fuck the police,” and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I hope they catch the teenage kids in my neighborhood who are holding people up at gunpoint, etc. But in this case, because of 1st Amendment rights, they were wrong to do what they did. If you pick this incident to pieces and then look at the social contract, etc., it makes room for jaded despair, the world just seems absurd, etc. Make art! But I am half-hoping the Occupy Movement gets enough press to effect even small changes. That said, I didn’t camp out, but I do support the Occupiers, and I can understand the comparison, as has been done above, to other non-violent protest movements and such. 

      Raising awareness may be just that, but it’s a beginning. Sorry for writing so much! :)

  26. Laura Carter


  27. trees

      Who the fuck are you people? All cops are foot soldiers in a state-run, corporate-sponsored war against the general populace. In other words, they’re all bastards, and can all fucking die, as far as I’m concerned.

      God, who knew that the HTMLGiant readership would consist of a bunch of state apologists. Makes me realize why I feel so alienated from the writing community most of the time.

  28. Hank

      Gandhi and his followers didn’t free India from British rule on their own.  I direct you to “How Nonviolence Protects the State”:

      But, if as Darby says “putting yourself in the way of something you anticipate a collision with and [refusing] to move” is not non-violence, then I don’t see any way that non-violence would be a viable tactic.  Anything less resistant than that seems submission. 

      Too, Gandhi’s advice to the Jews during the Holocaust basically amounted to “lay down and die.”  Between a death camp and taking arms, were I a Jew in the Holocaust, I would rather take arms. 

  29. Goldfishes

      I was at starbucks yesterday. There were two cops standing by the register waiting for their coffee.

      The problem with where they were standing was that the two of them were standing side by side and blocking the walk way – or the only path of space that would connect a person from one side of the room to the door and vice versa (exit on one side, bathroom on the other; cops occupying the space between tables and cash register and fully blocking a path for customers). This in itself is rude, regardless of who you are, it’s dick behavior. Most people have a sense of social manners and they realize that they are blocking the path for others – they would either stand to the side or grab a table.

      The worst part was when I got up to leave neither cop anticipated my need to walk through. Neither of them moved out of the way to let me by, like a normal person would do. They just stood their looking at me until I said “excuse me.”

  30. deadgod

      Who the fuck are you?  All people who say that all cops are all “bastards” are all pooping out their mouths when they make such a foolishly sweeping statement, as far as I’m concerned.

      God, who knew that the HTMLGiant commentariat would include libertarians.  Makes me glad, though–and as usual–, that people who think their drinking water and gasoline come from anything other than a “state” go to some of the same places to talk that I go to.

  31. Ryan Call

      go away.

  32. Gripmaster

      unintended irony in this post

      On another note.. deadgod – you talk too much. 

  33. NYPDBlue

      I’m a cop and you are making me feel unwelcome.

  34. Deadgodfan1


  35. PeeWeeHerman

      I’ll pay you to pepper spray deadgod.

  36. alan

      I agree.

      (For the record, I would have put “capitalist” in place of “corporate” because it’s the productive relation, not its legal form, that’s determinative in my view.)

  37. B.

      This is such a sad troll post. 

  38. Roxane

      It is ridiculous to do hardship dicksizing or Oppression Olympics in such situations. We can be outraged about both. You are a writer. If the issue of poor people and how they are treated by the police is so important (and it is), write about it so that people can know about it, but standing on a shaky moral high ground and saying, “This is not as bad as that,” doesn’t really serve any purpose. What happened in Davis was wrong. What happened to that homeless schizophrenic was wrong. We don’t have to choose which one is worse or deserves more attention.

  39. Roxane

      I can try to understand where the cops were coming from and respect that they have a job to do but I’m not going to cry for them or think they were in a weaker position while they stood in riot gear over a bunch of kids sitting on the ground. They did have a good option and the good option was to not use pepper spray, or to allow the nonviolent protest to continue, or any other solution that did not involve using the aggressive methods they chose. 

  40. Roxane

      Your math does not compute. 

  41. trees

      Not going to do that. 

  42. Michael

      “I don’t mean to minimize the situation” / “it’s interesting to gauge the level of moral outrage when college students are pepper-sprayed vs. more brutal acts of police terrorism–esp. in the same state.”

      I was making an observation and used rather soft language, not advocating “dicksizing” or “Oppression Olympics”

      (note: I do write about it). 

  43. Darby Larson

      i admit pepper spray is too strong below. though i’ve experienced exposure to a CS gas in the military in basic training in the “gas chamber”. its not as strong as OC though.

  44. Darby Larson

      i never said nonviolent protests were useless. i never even said that what the students were doing wasn’t what they should be doing. in fact, they should be doing it. im not against the occupy movement. the issue for me was simply the “non-violent” misnomer and the amount of outcry and scapegoating that was going on for something i felt justice had already been served for (putting the two officers on leave).

  45. Darby Larson

      why not? what’s wrong with a little pain? a few scars? it only helps the movement.

  46. Darby Larson

      what everyone knows to be “non-violence” is a viable tactic. my issue is semantic i guess. i feel like by saying your action is “non-violent” is rhetorically constructed to sound as if you are being passive simply because you are being “still” when in fact your “stillness” was strategically placed to serve a function. it’s like saying mines in a field, as long as no one’s walking in the field, are non-violent.

  47. Guestagain

      These are university campus ‘police’ and not real police, and a distinction and understanding should be made. This particular rent a pig probably washed out of the real police academy with a storm trooper fetish. There is an escalating riot protocol that we have really yet to see due to the non violent nature of the protests, which I think has them baffled: physical removal (pick them up and set them on the lawn) then sticks, water cannon, tear gas, rubber bullets, and finally the national guard when things get very serious. These universities are insular miniature nations protecting their revenue stream rackets and cushy lifestyles first and foremost and are apparently free to run their own law enforcement approaches that supersede local and state jurisdictions per that revolting freak show at Penn State. This administration should be sacked and the pepper spraying fuck prosecuted for assault and impersonating an officer, go work security at WalMart.

  48. karltaro

      it’s not a matter of crying for them. i don’t sympathize with them nor am i apologizing for them. i am simply trying to understand the dynamic. and the riot gear defines their weaker position. it defined their role as an actor. (i don’t know the protocols for this type of deployment. but again, i assume this type of gear is policy in the face of any public protest.) to simply walk away would have required an almost Ghandian resolve, a greater willingness to use non-violence than the protesters had shown. the campus cops were there to act, they were ordered to act, and anything less would have meant backing down and appearing week. they would have been jeered by the protesters and onlookers and by their fellow cops. never underestimate how we all hate to look like fools in public. the other course, of the cops deciding not to act as some sort of political statement, would be tantamount to their joining the protesters and we are not at that point in this story yet, if we ever do get there. when the cops and army and other uniformed classes start joining the revolution, well, that would be after far, far worse atrocities than this.

      while i was in college, if i thought about the campus cops at all it was as sort of a joke. i think many of us were dismissive of campus cops and saw them as being of a different class than the students and faculty. we certainly didn’t see them as actual cops, but as a sort of private security service. i’m sure they picked up on that covert and occasionally overt disdain. now, if i was a campus cop and was facing a situation such as this, would I really want to back down in front of the very kids who I knew saw me as somehow beneath them? just a thought. 

  49. Guestagain

      oops, the national guard is now fighting foreign wars, um…

  50. SuckMyPasolini

      Yeah, what happened was bad… What is your point here, other than to make some nauseatingly classist remarks? Authentic cops from an expensive reputable police academy would have been better?  

  51. Anonymous
  52. tm

      Your comparison makes no sense. When encountered, the mines will explode, send body parts flying, and ultimately kill. The protesters’ inaction will demonstrate the strength of their convictions and the brutality/violence of the forces they oppose. It’s aim is ultimately to embarrass.

  53. tm

      It is not a misnomer. It perfectly describes the tactic. A violent protest would have included attacking the officers or the physical structure of the school. The non-violence of the event was demonstrated by not reacting violently when faced with force, essentially suppressing the very human impulse to match blow with blow. Putting some HIGHLY overpaid officers on leave for this type of overreaction and inappropriate display of force is essentially a slap on the wrist. They should be standing in the unemployment line with Chancellor Katehi.

  54. Lilzed

      I haven’t read enough of this story or blog post, but I don’t get why having the Chancellor resign is such a big deal. Wasn’t the apology, the shaming, enough?

      Seems harsh to me, but like I said maybe I need to read more.

  55. Lilzed

      I guess I feel that this practice of cops using pepper spray, tasers etc on nonviolent activists is deeper than one school. I don’t see how getting the person to resign addresses the core issues here. I actually feel that forcing the Chancellor to resign sends a bad message in itself, that people or institutions can’t evolve. Her crime isn’t the same as deception, murder, etc. it was a rather status quo response mirrored in many schools nationwide. This feels like a scapegoat case to me. TO SOME EXTENT.

      What am I missing?

  56. Gregorygerke

      Yes, as Rob said, you’ve already got your wish. This is being done very frequently in NYC. I would urge you and everyone else who are armchair quarterbacking this to go down to the demonstrations and see for yourself rather than parroting (you might not have, but many do) or drawing conclusions based on corporate media.

  57. B.

      I swear to god this thread is like a competition to see who can write the stupidest post on the subject. 

      There is no fucking zone of reality where cops armed in riot gear have in “the weaker” position against some hippies locking arms on the sidewalk. Cops can do almost anything and have no real consequences. Even in this case, unlikely anything bad will happen to the cops. 

      “if they back down and walk away, they get belittled, chanted at, made to feel like losers and get dressed down for not accomplishing their mission.”

      Who gives a single fuck about whether police, who are paid a salary to “serve and protect” the population, are made to have their feelings hurt? 

      If there is any realm in which to feel bad for the police here it is: they should not have been sent onto campus in big numbers in riot gear. Whoever thought htis was a good idea stuck these cops in a bad position. 

      Blame the higher ups, not the kids who might have—horror of horrors–“chanted at” cops. 

  58. B.

      “to simply walk away would have required an almost Ghandian resolve,”

      What planet do you live on? The entire point of police should be to protect and deescalate situations. Their point is not, or should not be, to ESCALATE situations and cause more damage to the citizenry. Brutal force is only really supposed to be used to prevent violent situations, not to CREATE them. 

      Cops on a daily basis descalate situations. Protests happen on a regular basis around the globe and the vast majority of them are either allowed to happen or the cops interfere on a minor level to keep things from getting out of hand. It doesn’t take “an almost Ghandian resolve” to not pepper spray, violently beat, or otherwise attack a group of kids with their arms interlinked. 
      Hell, even if the cops did think it was a huge imperative to go over the protesters to clear the tents–which it wasn’t, they could have easily left them up as they have done in many locals–they could have just… stepped over the protesters (as they did to pepper spray them) or taken a little time and effort to remove them peacefully. 

      “a greater willingness to use non-violence than the protesters had shown. ”

      This is either complete ignorance or complete bullshit, but either way police SHOULD have a greater willingness to deescalate situations and resolve thing without violence… that’s their fucking job! They get paid to do that!

  59. B.

      Historically, the police almost always side with the state. Even in the historical cases where revolutions have succeeded, the police tend to stay with the state and the established power till the end (the military is much more likely to join the revolution.) 

      OWS isn’t a revolution, but I’m not sure there is any hope of getting the cops to join them. 

  60. B.

      Actually at UC, a state run school, these police are full police. It isn’t the same as the rent-a-cops at a private university. 

  61. B.

      Why would you expect the core issue to be addressed and resolved all at once? That isn’t how reality works. 

      I’m actually fine with scapegoating here because the militarization of the police force, especially in response to non-violent protests, has been a really dangerous development in American history over the last few decades. If a few people who go exceptionally over the line get punished for it, then maybe the practice will start to change.  

  62. Lilzed

      I don’t see how it’s an effective scapegoat in that way unless protestors or officials make reference to that larger development you mention. When you say over the line, remember you’re referring to “over the line” in terms of what has become a status quo militarization. So isn’t it still possible to color within the lines?

  63. Lilzed

      To clarify, the lack of outrage at the inception of that development (militarization of campus police, all police) … seems like a gaping void in this narrative. Joint pointing something out.  . . .. There’s a moral authority that seems missing or unearned here. Feel free to poke holes at what I’m saying.

  64. Greg Gerke

      Thanks for bringing this up Roxane. To get back to one of your original questions-I, for one, am not sitting this one out, writing things on a few different sites. On Nov. 17th, I was at Wall Street for 5 hours, went home and wrote about what I saw, posted it (, then went back for another 4 hours, including the walk over the Brooklyn Bridge.

      I strongly believe “Who do you protect, who do you serve?” are the pressing questions in terms of the police. Occupy Wall Street, from all of my limited involvement (I’ve meet people who flew across the country and spent their vacation from work working at Zuccotti Park and many other extremely dedicated souls) (what I can hope to give pales to thousands who are giving up their life for this [and why not, it’s the most important thing that’s happened in this country in 40 years]), is not interested in challenging the police or embarrassing them – they are protesting against the corporations that dominate this world (the US and world governments that are little but shills for them) and all those who profit by lies and deceit. The police have a job true, but maybe they are starting to become disgusted with their job (one cop was crying as he went in to raid Zuccotti Park last Monday), and maybe many are not. Suspensions and loss of pay are not slight matters.

      As far as the writing community, I am personally saddened that not so many people are taking up pens against a sea of troubles. John Milton overtly called for regicide in England (and it happened). History is overly rich with writers arguing for social change. Yes, there is Occupy Writers, and that is very good. Certainly people have many concerns, including how to make ends meet in their own life. For all his liberal gallivanting, where is an op-ed by Jonathan Franzen in the NYtimes? He certainly has the power to make it happen. Since there aren’t any specific demands yet there is little quarrel with, how can one quarrel with changing the way things are now? 

      Years from now (if there will be any) I don’t want someone to ask me what I was doing at this time and to tell them I did nothing, I watched it happen from afar. I couldn’t live with that.

  65. B.

      I think rob says it well below. 

      I still think your analysis is off though in terms of asking whether a specific action is effective to changing everything or whether it changes the core issues. It doesn’t have to and can’t be expected to. I don’t want to read too much into your statements here, but a similar attitude is what has lead us down this road. Because most people argue “what’s the point of protesting this afternoon? Is it really going to change anything?” “What’s the point of trying to change that law, you know it won’t work.” etc. and then truly nothing ever does get done. 

      Anyway, if the chancellor has lost the support of the students and faculty at UC Davis (and as Rob says, the calls for resignation here are coming from the community) why shouldn’t she be fired? 

  66. B.

      yes, that was a problem (although most of the commentators were probably born after the militarization really started…) but, what is your point? Because people didn’t do enough to stop it decades ago, we can’t complain about it now? 

      See Roxane’s comments above about Oppression Olympics. 

  67. Ryan Call

      im sorry for saying to go away. i thought it would be funny, but now i see it is rude. im sorry.

  68. Lilzed

      I agree. I just feel like I’m missing something. I’ll read more abt this case. Thanks for explaining.

  69. Lilzed

      Yeah, I agree with this. Maybe this is where my discomfort was coming from.

  70. B.

      Wow… this is kind of a hilarious confusion of terms and rhetoric. You really think that sounded like a “libertarian” rant against big government instead of a leftist response to state power? 

      hint: libertarians tend to like corporate things. 

  71. NYPDBlue

      You already do!

  72. Lilzed

      I don’t know much about this case. My immediate reaction was, wow that is a hasty response. Not really so concerned with the woman herself. It seems like a missed opportunity in some way, to just cut her off. A missed opportunity for a larger self reflection.  Legally, socially, politically. It is as though the message is “you should have known better.” I disagree with that sentiment. Also in crowd decisions like this, not all voices are immediately heard.

      What came out in the last hour :

      So as to the chain of responsibility for what happened, more is coming out. Look it’s becoming political []there’s gonna be an “independent investigation” perhaps.

      It bothers me. How easily the pendulum can swing. Just because the protestors did such a good job – can we really act like their moral high ground was always there? always recognized? If we act like that, then it’s as though they didn’t transform anything. When I say “we” I am referring to the public response. At this point the students and workers have a surge of prestige. Hello, they earned it.

  73. lily hoang

      The cops are one tree. You’re all focusing on one tiny ass tree. 

  74. Guestagain

      I am corrected on this, so either UCPD hasn’t been trained on crowd control or ignored the guidelines. a number of cops I’ve talked to were clear that they can’t walk up and pepper spray people not resisting or threatening.

  75. SuckMyPasolini

      shhhh. don’t wake the academics.

  76. Michael

      Good post, but I’m not sure where I implied that “privileged people shouldn’t stand up for themselves.” It’s pretty much a given that college students about to go home for Thanksgiving Break are going to be in a better position to “stand up for themselves” than someone working three jobs to pay the rent and feed his or her kids.

  77. Matthew Simmons

      Helps the movement by giving people from the outside more reason to sympathize, yes?

      All right. Well, if in the end this is all about the theater, then I’m here to play the role of the guy who thinks pain compliance as procedural acceptable when dealing with nonviolent offenders is bullshit.

  78. Matthew Simmons

      Only because that particular tree just fell on a bunch of people.

      Point taken, though. The Occupy Seattle movement has started to fracture because of the tension between the “Wall Street Fucked Us,” folks and the “Cops Suck” anarchists.

  79. Darby Larson

      the analogy is meant to show that both are premeditated stillnesses. that premeditation shouldn’t be disregarded. in fact we should be always saying “premeditated non-violence.” when i think of non-violence, i think of someone sitting like a plant in their own house aware that their presence isn’t getting in the way of anything or any process, but i feel like that’s the level the rhetoric is trying to reach when we say “non-violent protest”. Please understand I’m not saying the tactic shouldn’t be used, i think it’s a valuable means of protest, my problem is semantic.

  80. NLY

      “putting yourself in the way of something you anticipate a collision with and you refuse to move.”

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that always the goal of ‘non-violent’ protests, or ‘civil disobedience’? Aren’t you inventing a connotation to apply to an already historically contexualized action? Or just applying a connotation you think happens to suit it better than its actual context and function?

      My problem here is with the semantics of your semantics.

  81. Darby Larson

      i wrote this a little drunk last night and i see what you are saying now hank, which is that, yes, by my definition of “non-violent” it is useless. its ridiculous actually, its not even protest. i think my problem is i am getting too philosophical. like absolute “non-violence” = comatose or death or non-existence, since even existence is always going to affect something in the environment. breathing violently interupts the air in the vicinity of your mouth. but “non-violence” as everyone is talking about it here as a means of protest is incredibly useful.

  82. Michael

      How realistic is your goal for “the elimination of student loan debt,” with the recent IBR legislation )now down to 10% of discretionary income) that also includes 10-year clauses for secondary teachers, professors, and a host of other “public service” and “non-profit workers”?

  83. Nick Moran

      My understanding of the recent legislation is that it applies only to federal loans. The legislation (as I understand it, please correct me if I’m wrong) does nothing to help with private loans.

      I think that the theoretical economics of forgiving student loan debt is feasible. Do I believe that makes the endeavor “realistic?” Not yet, not exactly. I just know that it costs more (per year) to imprison an inmate in this country than it does to send that inmate to Princeton. I also know that this country spent $2.8 trillion dollars on nuclear arms spending during the Cold War, and that the current amount of student debt in this country is less than half of that.

  84. B.

      I think I’d argue that they are a big fucking tree, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the overall problems and goals, I agree. 

  85. karltaro

      i feel like any response other than “the cops are assholes” is being seen as defending them. they may well be assholes. ok? Now, knowing that. and knowing the situation, was there ever a chance they would calmly back away or “deescalate”? that’s my point. the moment you send in the cops, this is what you are going to get. (and forcibly pulling apart the protesters would have resulted in more injuries. or that’s how police are trained now anyway.) 

      the cops were ordered in. they did what they had to do, as disgusting as that was. I blame the UC Davis Chancellor for this. She didn’t think through what happens when you order police to break up a protest. She didn’t give them parameters of action. She didn’t tell them not to use force. She screwed up here. The cops were being cops. They don’t back down. That’s not who they are. KNowing that, and knowing the situation, what we got was probably the only logical outcome. That’s my point.

      REad George Orwell’s Shooting an Elephant to understand the dynamic

  86. Michael

      No, private loans aren’t part of the legislation, and I understand the economic hypocrisies that drive this country’s economy and the unreasonable costs of higher education.

      Then again, I watched so many borrowers borrow irresponsibly, taking out way more than they needed, not bothering to fill out an adjustment form, and now some of these people “want all their debt forgiven.” There’s also part of me who wants to pay something back. 

      I would like to see IBR’s income % go down a bit more–maybe to 7 or 8%.

  87. Nick Moran

      This discussion obviously has echoes of the mortgage crisis, but there are key differences that make me reluctant to categorize tuition loan borrowers as “irresponsible.”

      – Owning a house is not mandatory for anybody, but going to school to get a better-than-decent career (almost always) is.
      – Mortgage borrowers had credit histories and measurable earning potentials. 18 year old kids do not. A tuition loan is taken out on an estimation of future earning potential.

      Could people benefit from more education on loan decisions and management? Absolutely. Should you think twice about taking out $90k to earn a BFA? Absolutely. But as with the mortgage crisis, I’d argue that the lender bears as much if not more responsibility than the borrower when it comes to gauging whether or not a person can repay these loans. To the lender, it’s an investment, and as with all investments, you can get burned.

      I’d like to see IBR’s income % go down as well. I’d also like to see an end to the ridiculous inflation of tuition costs in general.

  88. Michael

      Fair enough, the mortgage comparison is sound. 

      My concern here is about the message–the relationship between idealism  
      (“eliminate all student loan debt now!”)
       and what’s realistic (include private loans in IBR and lower the %).  OWS still needs to figure out how to balance idealism with “realism” in some cases.

  89. Nick Moran

      Agreed. Which, to return to Roxane’s post, is where the movement could use some writers.

  90. Hank

      And so I agree.  Non-violence IS quite useful, though I maintain that it is only one tactic out of many that can be used to effect change (and that, of course, when choosing one’s tactics, one must use care).

  91. Bobby Dixon

      I thought it was funny. 

  92. Michael

      re: “could use some writers”

      I guess, but most writers aren’t different from the average citizen if we’re simply discussing general participation and assuming that most writers aren’t well-known enough to have much influence.  

      Now, are you also advocating participation via writing itself? In that case, one could argue that writers are already addressing many of these issues in their work, and that it’s just as important to place work that’s not explicitly about OWS in conversation with the movement (just like literary critics do when discussing texts in relation to their social, historical, and cultural contexts). To me, this seems a lot more interesting and organic than editing an anthology filled with OWS-themed stories and poems.  

  93. Bobby Dixon

      Now that I’m at the bottom of the comments, I feel like I have Asperger’s and just walked through a large room of people talking in-depth and intimately about their feelings and emotions, which seem alien to me. 

  94. Hank

      Just because they “can’t” doesn’t mean they can’t.

  95. Nick Moran

      I actually wasn’t talking about fiction or poetry at all. What I meant by “the movement could use some writers” is that writers could (and are, but should continue to) write cogently to educate protesters and the powers that be.

      I was thinking specifically of folks like Michael Lewis, who was actually called to the Senate to explain the financial debacle to U.S. Senators after the ’08 crises. Another example of a good one is David Graeber, whose book on Debt should be required reading for everyone.

  96. Michael

      Ah, okay. Got it. That makes sense.

  97. Roxane

      Yes and no, I’d say. It’s a pretty big tree standing in the way of the forest.

  98. Roxane

      As others have noted, most campus police are real police with real police powers. 

  99. deadgod

      A good analysis, but let me disagree with your distinction between “[o]wning a house” and borrowing money for tertiary education:  shelter is certainly more “mandatory” than “a better-than-decent career”. 

      The parallel that (I think) you’re denying lies in this:  ‘conservatives’ blame lending money to the working-poor and lower-middle classes, because those people shouldn’t own their own homes.  That is, rather than paying a sensible-market price and with a reasonable interest on the principal for 30 years, less wealthy people should rent, which is paying the mortgages of wealthier people for those 30 years.

      That, to me, is quite like telling the children of those families not to bother considering “better-than-decent career[s]”.

  100. deadgod

      I read your dial-back below, but let me agree with it here:  there is a semantic distinction to be made–everything that exists ‘violently’ takes place where it both is and affects its vicinity.  What the protesters – and Gandhi and King and so on – mean is ‘less-violent protest’–‘less’ than by sitting there with their own poisonous gas, sticks, and guns, and less than with a legal monopoly on the use of any violence.  That’s not a merely semantic distinction, is it?–protesting with less rather than more violence than is inflicted on them.

  101. deadgod

      I said:

      “more emphatic–eh, I mean more successful–“

      Those words are there in the first two lines of the comment you’re replying to.

  102. Nick Moran

      I think that timing is everything, though. Since you (usually) need the degree to get a job, you get that tuition loan on spec. Since you (usually) buy a house after having a job, you can afford to rent and save up as you get to that point. Sure, you’re paying for the mortgage of wealthier people (e.g. the landlord), but you’re also making sure that missed payments don’t equal foreclosure or bankruptcy.

      Of course you can make the case that one should also save up for school tuition before they decide to attend one, but I just think that, like I said, the timing (one before the job, one after the job) is the important thing here.

  103. deadgod

      I wished explicitly for a more successful inclusion–as has happened in Wisconsin and Ohio, no??  (For example, rather than writing letters, have NY OWSers sat down with the NYPD union brass and negotiated an un-uniformed police presence at various actions?  –holding signs saying ‘I’m a cop and Wall Street is screwing me, too.’ – that sort of thing.)

      I would urge you to lean forward in your armchair, after you’ve toweled off the sweat from your nine hours on the front lines, and read more accurately writing from pens taken up against corporate media, which love to platform anarchy retards who think ‘all cops are bastards’.

  104. Michael

      Just out of curiosity, when you (and these OWSers) say, “eliminate student loan debt,” are you also advocating the elimination of student loans and college tuition? 

      I know it’s fashionable and hip to trash student loans, but there is not a better loan in the world than a federal student loan–the interest rates are dirt cheap and often subsidized. 

  105. Hank

      What is a “better-than-decent career”?  I’ve met several “working-class” people who made upwards of $90k a year. 

      The secret?  Unions.  The idea that you have to go to college for a decent or better-than-decent career is a myth.  The whole idea that a person should go to college to get a “good job” is a bunk idea anyway:  most of the most necessary jobs are the ones out there that don’t sit someone in front of a desk (i.e., not managerial).  Construction workers, factory workers, miners, farmers, janitors, etc. 

  106. deadgod

      –but the cops in Wisconsin and Ohio have been forced to realize that ‘Wall Street’ a) is not their ultimate boss, necessarily, and b) will fuck them soon.

      I don’t think the municipal cops with families are too dumb to be reached when it comes to their pensions, orthodontic bills, and eventual college-education payments.

  107. deadgod

      open your eyes when you eat cupcakes, cupcake

      On the only note on your instrument.. Gripcupcake – you listen too little.

  108. deadgod

      Not “confusion”; I think fake-leftists who think that the “state” is simply the privately-penetrated public government – what trees says in the comment I replied to – are stupid about the collective nature of power in the way that libertarians are.  Anarchists, for example, are left-libertarians, to the tiny extent that they’re “left”-anything.

      hint:  ‘smash the state’?–really? – you’re going to live without electricity and make your own clothes?  This fake “leftis[m]” is a similar insipidity to that of a libertarian who thinks that she or he, not “like[s] corporate things”, but rather, will negotiate for resources with corporations.

  109. deadgod

      In what sense do you agree that all cops are “bastards”?  It sounds like you think that, both personally and political-economically, it’s not true that “all” cops a) are “bastards”, or b) are any one thing with one relationship to “the general populace”.

  110. deadgod

      less filling

  111. Oaktown Writer

      Two words: Perp Walk

  112. Greg Gerke

      If you wish for a more successful inclusion, why don’t you spearhead it? Many people are doing many things. I don’t know what you are or aren’t doing, but if this is all talk, all poor buffo, then I ask in all seriousness, Why should you be directing actions from a literary blog message board in the ether? People can criticize all they want, but the question becomes what are they contributing? If it’s just blather and arguing semantics while people are on the front lines getting hurt–well, that seems answer enough.

  113. Darby Larson

      “civil disobedience” is better. there is at least an implication of deliberate dissent there. i dont think i am apply a new connotation as much as i am simply trying to suss out rhetoric already embedded in the historical connotation by considering the phrase literally. to me ‘non-violence’ in and of itself has no goal, there is nothing to imply intention in the phrase, something non-violent literally almost implies unintentional non-action, which comes with the sense that it should be forgiven as though there were no intention. but non-violent protest is intentional, is very premeditated, is very deliberate. but anyway, yeah, civil disobedience is better.  

  114. Hank

      Left-libertarians aren’t opposed to the sorts collectivized activities that produce electricity, public roadways and the like.  All the “smash the state” rhetoric — in my opinion — results from a misunderstanding of the history of the word ‘state’.  It’s an ontological term denoting forms of human organization — the individual state, the family state, and finally the political state.  This was how Aristotle wrote of it and somehow through history the term ‘state’ came to be synonymous ‘political state’, which in my opinion causes a problems when trying to speak clearly of a (possible) society that has all or most of the benefits derived from having a “state,” while not speaking of a society with centralized authority.

      Sometimes I call myself an anarchist because I yearn for an ontological transformation of the political state where authority is decentralized, i.e., a rulerless society.  But I don’t like anarchist rhetoric.  It often strikes me as being somewhat childish and overstated.

  115. deadgod

      That’s a tension that’s unavoidable, one between ‘solutions-oriented protest’ and ‘self-congratulatorily unfocused fauxtrage’.  A tension to be found on this very thread, ha ha ha.

  116. Dole

      lol comments

      Chicago cops have actually behaved decently and sat down and coordinated with protesters beforehand.  They used plastic handcuffs and basically took protesters around the corner and let them go.  If you know anything at all about the reputation / history of Chicago cops, this is amazing.  My guess is the mayor here showed some leadership on this.  

  117. deadgod

      I might go a little farther:  “politics”, ‘the social struggle for power’, entails the ‘statehood’ of institutions.

      The decentralization or democratization or proletarianization of authority doesn’t rule out ‘authors’ of action’–to the contrary, it/they relocate authority on the grounds of justice or practicality or whatever.  I don’t think there can be ‘rulerlessness’, except in a postmodern sense of ‘agentless agency’–which makes for an exciting critique of metaphysics, but not a practicable political-economic plan of transformation, a plan to transform political economy. 

      Democratic socialism, where the ‘center’ of decision-making is dispersed as a function of informed inclusion–that makes more sense to me than libertarian fantasies in either the form of rugged individualism or of stateless abundance.

  118. deadgod

      I agree that “decent” is problematic in this context; I was quoting Nick.

      ‘$90k/year’ is not the same political-economic class as ‘cashier’ or ‘non-unionized janitor’ or ‘dishwasher’ (three jobs that I’ve done); who says it is??

  119. NLY

      To be fair, this isn’t really anything that’s actually in the phrase, its history, or the minds of other people who use it, then, right? Because while you’re right to say there is nothing at all to indicate the nature of intent in the phrase ‘non-violent’, that’s kind of what the word protest is there for. 

      Or verbs in general.

      So you’re not so much taking it literally as you are ignoring what it literally means: ‘without violence’. It means nothing more, or less, than that. It is impossible to take the phrase ‘non-violent protest’ literally without coming to the conclusion that the people intend to protest without themselves enacting violence. That is an action, is highly deliberate, and completely premeditated, all just as you say, with the single exception that you think the phrase used somehow excludes all of those truths about the phenomenon it describes. Non-violence has never, will never, can never mean ‘with utter passivity’: that’s not literal, that’s as metaphorical (and personal) an extrapolation as you can get.

  120. Guestagain

      here here, yet there is the stuporcommittee on austerity eve, occupy doesn’t know how anything works so does a sit down protest against one of the seven deadly sins, shouts down not only Rove but Obama who seems rhetorically wiped out and ineffective, his major accomplishments are overseas in foreign policy, the gop runs jethro and a dinosaur and a monkey and a stepford wife and may you live in interesting times

  121. MJ

      I cannot be more specific on any of these questions. It is structured to be inclusive
      not exclusive, designed to consciously mine experience and hopefully relate
      that experience to the situation(s) at hand. Isn’t it customary to first react
      and oftentimes form an experience around the reaction, without the needed third
      person retrospective. I focus on the police aspect of OWS because its
      counterpart is obvious, no discussion at this time needed. Example: Whittier
      College ’05 one of my fellow students was hit with a stun gun. We’re talking
      volts. Things get ridiculous sometimes. And its not cool. But these questions
      are important. Rereading that comment, its sounds a little like a putdown, right? Casualty of internet transpondence, I guess, because the tone was actually a bit different.

  122. deadgod

      –but a teenager who’s studying to get into college in order to get credentialed for a better-paying job than her or his parents and buy rather than rent has to live somewhere!  –and for renters, missed payments equal eviction.

      –so I think the priorities of shelter and education relate to each other circularly with respect to chronology. 

      A family with one-and-a-half low incomes can afford to buy over 30 years in the same neighborhood that it can afford to rent for the same 30 years.  My point is that to deny this is a similar logic to denying that society can’t afford to pay the majority of the cost of educating each student who does the homework at each level.

  123. Guestagain

      the UCPD could not handle this and it might not have been reasonable to expect them to, if it went to a local and/or state agency with the same outcome the chancellor position is at least protected as responsibility is wider, although calling out non campus police might cause new resentments so would take non institutional courage   

  124. deadgod

      Ha ha–but the Open Mic-ers didn’t “shout down” Obama; their message I didn’t get, because of the cacophony once he paused to let them ‘speak’, but he responded and moved on.  (I hope he’s got a better rap for the next time, something like, ‘I share many of your concerns, – ‘ and goes on to talk about, say, Elizabeth Warren.)  He doesn’t seem “ineffective” to me:  he’s engineered it so that America-hating Republicans are going to get the blame for raising taxes on every payroll-tax-paying worker in America and for stabbing the US Armed Forces in the back (not to mention back-stabbing Tentacular Corp., snuffling and shnorking at the DOD trough–oops! that’s the GOP campaign piggy-bank bank . . .).

      Hey!  Are you calling Herman Caint a “monkey”??

  125. Laura Carter

      The European model seems to have done fairly well, no?

  126. B.


      First off, I read the The Atlantic article comparing this to Orwell’s Shooting An Elephant essay. That writer was actually able to make smart and insightful points. I get that you thought you’d just run here and try to make some similar argument without attribution, but it is clear you didn’t quite get the gist of what was being discussed in either The Atlantic or Orwell. 

      There was of course plenty of chance for them to back off. As others pointed out, they ended up doing so anyway. 

  127. B.

      When did deadgod turn into republicandad?

  128. Hank

      My point is that jobs like ‘cashier’, ‘non-unionized janitor’ and ‘dishwasher’ (three jobs that I have done as well) are not jobs that are not by necessity excluded from being in the $90k/year class.  But every opportunity I get I will problematize the the idea of a “decent” job because I believe that every person who does work that is productive and worthwhile should be treated like they are.

  129. Hank

      Democratic socialism, where the ‘center’ of decision-making is dispersed
      as a function of informed inclusion–that makes more sense to me than
      libertarian fantasies in either the form of rugged individualism or of
      stateless abundance.

      First and foremost, I consider myself a socialist, but I also believe socialism is only socialism when it is democratic, because socialism is the economic form distinguished by the fact that the means of production are owned by the workers — if the workers don’t have a say in how those means of production are utilized, then they can’t meaningfully be said to own those very means, and thus, I believe that socialism can only be socialism when democratic.  The democratic socialism that you describe — which I think differs from the “European model” Laura Carter mentions below — is something I would get behind. 

  130. juan pancake

      european models are beautiful but they drink too much and their complexion is the first thing to go.

  131. juan pancake

      The Left should just stick to calling itself The Left for a while

  132. Uncleherukschel

      it stinks that there is now more fanfare concerning OWS vs Cops than OWS’s arguments/appeals. It feels almost deliberate in a DHS/FBI/Pentagonian sort of way. “Is the Left organizing again? eff…hey, I have an idea! People love that show COPS, don’t they?”

  133. Guestagain

      or is it hear hear? an African American friend refers to Cain as a “monkey” among other things that I would not repeat because I am just that sensitive. once again (and again and again ad nauseam) the crux of the issue is major segments of the American economy being exported, primarily to china, and wall street and banks and government (left and right) have colluded on this. the even more depressing news is everyone uniformly says that these jobs can never come back except for this one person (take a deep breath into the diaphragm) Trump. he objectively lists the cause and effect chains and a set of tax/tariff/import/export policies that would put the empty commercial and residential spaces to use and set unemployment back below 6% so nobody would be in the streets and the wealthy getting wealthier debate and discussion would be just that. I might not support Trump for Pres, but certainly for Treasury, yes… I dream of writing a fantasy government game riffing off fantasy football but players would have to wait four years to score it so probably not the best use of product dev time

  134. SuckMyPasolini

      that must be the only note you are able to hear, dear deadie
      wrong siren.

  135. Anonymous

      seems to me that this is what occupy is about, that we are all–the majority of us–brutalized each day, yes, by the cops when things get to that place, but more so economically. that the poor take the brunt of that economic brutaility should be clear, except that our culture largely blames the poor for their own poverty while rigging the system to keep them there (get caught in the cascading penalties of the motor vehicle administration to realize how the poor are penalized for being poor). that these college students are standing in as examples for this larger brutality is some start, we can hope, to a greater conciousness of how this all works.

  136. Anonymous

      have you seen this one? what gets me almost as much as what the marine is saying are the looks on some of the young cops’ faces, in almost pain over what is being said to them, it also makes me think about what that ex-police chief from philly who got arrested for protesting said about the job of the ‘white shirts’ is to supervize and make sure things don’t get out of hand. it looks to me like this one was done right, on all sides. 

  137. SuckMyPasolini

      That is fucking amazing.

  138. Nick Moran

      No, I think tuition and loans to pay that tuition should not be abolished. The main qualm I have is that college tuition is outrageously expensive right now — mostly, as my original comment insinuated, to afford the bloated administration at each university. At a time when income levels for most people aren’t rising, it’s outrageous that the average university’s tuition has gone up ~10% each year for the last decade and a half.

      And no, federal student loans actually aren’t the best loans in the world for one simple reason: you can’t escape them. If you file for bankruptcy, that loan stays with you.

  139. Nick Moran

      That’s pretty much what I meant by “decent” career, too. I used an intentionally vague definition because the metric should be: work hard, work often, get to live at a level commensurate with that effort.

  140. karltaro

      on the one hand, many comments are attacking the cops as cretinous or, as you say below, “who gives a fuck” about the cops and their feelings. Fine. If that’s the case, then how can we expect them to act in any manner other than how they did? that’s the point of the orwell essay, isn’t it? (I did read The Atlantic essay, and I’m not sure I agreed with the final takeaway. Yes, I am taking a more deterministic view.) The situation, the power dynamics going in, dictate inhumane action. my point is that the cops were put in a position where for a number of reasons, yes, including their egos (which always play a part) they made a terrible decision, one that I am arguing is one very logical result of the situation. but they were PUT in that position. who put them there? if you feel they put themselves in that position, then we’ll never agree.
      if i were a cop in that situation, I would hope I would have the wisdom and strength to “back off”, but I have my doubts. 

  141. deadgod

      Admin costs are probably extravagant at many – most? – public universities, but do they soak up much of the per-student tuition?  An even bigger problem might be that, for the last three decades (since post-Prop. 13 Reaganomics), state governments have gotten away with de-funding education K-PhD.  (“de-funding” as in ‘DDTfunding’.)  That is a fundamental problem:  fiscal ‘conservatism’ surreptitiously chewing all the meat off of the middle class by covertly raising taxes on, say, having kids in public education.

  142. Wall Street Journal | HTMLGIANT

      […] Roxane Gay, We Can’t Sit This One Out […]

  143. deadgod

      I think what Darby is saying is that ‘getting in the way’ is not only not passive, it’s actually a kind of “violence”.  Forcing people to notice and even to think more critically than they’d like about something they’d rather ignore is “violent”. 

      –else, were sit-down protests not an unwelcome irruption into the attention of the neglectful–a kind of “violence”–, neither would they work nor would they possess the glamor of courage and nobody would bother to hold them.

      Darby has also accepted the distinction between ‘the violence of demanding attention’ and ‘using poisonous gas, clubs, and bullets’, has he not?

      “Civil disobedience” is not the posing of “non-violence” against force; it is the posing of one force against another force on the ground of consistency with respect to one’s principles and ultimately on the ground of moral sanity.

  144. B.

      Sorry dude, for someone who is apparently a writer, your language in this thread is beyond sloppy. Cops on a daily basis don’t paper spray non-violent protesters. It doesn’t take a “ghandian resolve” to not brutalize or pepper spray people sitting on a sidewalk. Yes, as I noted, we should acknowledge that the police should not have even been sent in, at least not fully decked in riot gear and weaponry, to peaceful protest on a college campus. 
      But understanding that means that you should be looking to place some blame on the higher ups. On the university leadership and the police force leadership. 

      Instead, in laughable fashion your language and sentences have been trying to put blame on the protesters. 

      (and your posts continually fail to note the huge issue that the police are paid to keep the peace and deescalate situations and that they have the full backing of the state and a massive power imbalance.)  

  145. B.

      It is a brainless point. If you want to describe all of this as violence you might as well describe everything as violence. Certainly every single response that the police or state take is thus violent, and billboards are violence, and radio jingles are violence, and open mic poetry readings are violence, and blah blah blah. 

      Pointless semantic game with no real point behind it. 

  146. deadgod

      It’s not going to be easy for you to get through the palm at the end of the face . . . maybe that’s where the brain is?

      A hyperbolic but perhaps instructive parallel to the position of the cops at, say, Davis might be that of Lt. Calley at My Lai.  Civilian massacre–absolutely wrong.  –but were the higher-ups who put young soldiers into a position where slaughtering a village seemed rational ever addressed punitively – or even held to account at all?  Maybe one was?  That silly documentary that ‘humanized’ McNamara aside, have the Cold Warriors been exposed as anti-American fuck-ups enough yet?

      Sure, the especially gleeful pepper-sprayer deserves youtube naming-and-shaming, but the outrage should be focused cogently and effectively on 30 years of deliberate misgovernance of education in California.

  147. B.

      If this was meant in response to me, might want to check your reading comprehension. I’m agreeing that the higher ups and indeed the entire system (and especially the practices of the police forces which send legions of cops armed in riot gear to small peaceful protests) should be looked at.

      But karltaro’s idea that the peaceful protesters are to blame, and that they showed more violence than the police, and that they had more power than the police, is absurd. 

  148. deadgod
  149. deadgod
  150. deadgod

      Yes, using words carefully is, partly, “semantics”, B.lah.  –as frantic dullness is “violence”.

      Move your palm from your face to the top of your head:  hey! that’s your point!

  151. karltaro

      Please, B., stop incorrectly attributing words and ideas to me.
      In my posts:I never said the protesters are to blame. I never said they showed more violence than the police.I never condoned the police behavior.I HAVE said the UC David Chancellor is to blame.I HAVE tried to understand, and give a theory, as to what compelled the police to act as they did. Understanding is not condoning.Happy Thanksgiving-

  152. deadgod

      No, B.lahmprehension, I was, as indicated, responding to Karl’s comment.  Your reply, where you first point your booger at “the higher ups”, wasn’t on my screen while I was thinking-then-writing my reply to the same comment.  Your reply does show that you finally googled the Orwell essay to figure out its relevance to the situation at Davis; well done!

      Karl has said carefully and effectively that he’s not “apologizing” for the brutality, but rather, understanding the responsibility for it in a more institutionally accurate way than braying theatrically at the cops will allow for.

      He’s also pointed out that seeing the police in simplistically oppositional terms contributes to their militarization; he might have added that the cops are actually also being fucked by “Wall Street” and by the state government (at Davis) and might be reachable on those grounds.

      How do you read these latter nuances?

  153. deadgod

      You haven’t yet struck a resounding “note” on the situation at Davis on this thread, SelfSuck.  What do you think about it?  Would firing Katehi really accomplish much?  Are the cops not much more in the students’ dinghy than they are in the Choch bros’ yacht?  In general, do you think anarchism is more rational than libertarianism?

  154. deadgod

      Oh, I thought you were picking on him for being black–you know, like Trump pretending to doubt that Obama really worked his way into the Ivy League.  Darn.

      I see by your parenthetical “left and right” that it’s still False Equivalency Day in the middle of the road.  Re-‘building’ green-and-clean manufacturing in America is a great idea . . . is Treasury allowed to invade anyone and just take their stuff?  I mean, is the Donald interested in the job?

  155. B.

      ” to simply walk away would have required an almost Ghandian resolve, a greater willingness to use non-violence than the protesters had shown.”

  156. B.

      I read these “latter nuances” as back peddling from someone who tried to sound smart by repeating some ideas he’d read in a blog post, but didn’t quite understand, sans attribution.

  157. SuckMyPasolini

      Ha ha, don’t be jealous of my flexibility, Deadwad.

      Absolutely, Ketahi should be forced to resign, and I commend
      Nathan Brown for his courage.  One
      would hope it sets a precedent making it unacceptable for those in power at universities
      to allow cops to fucking brutalise their students.  Obviously no one sent a memo telling the cops what they
      could and couldn’t do, and if the memo was sent, and it said spray the students
      like cockroaches, then all the more reason for her resignation.

      Cops are neither in dinghy nor yacht. Basically they are
      paid to be menacing sadists in service of the state – to put their bodies on
      the line and brutalise other bodies. 
      I do think there are a few who become cops to serve justice, to protect
      citizens, or because they’ve seen the million cop shows and movies and
      they want to ‘live the dream’.  I
      do not have statistics at hand, but my guess is most cops are indeed in the
      lower end of middle class.  As an
      atheist, I pray for them.

      Oh boy, you must be fucking with me, because anarchism
      actually is libertarianism, and what we generally know as libertarianism in America
      is right-libertarianism, an individualistic free-market philosophy. From
      Wikipedia: “Since the 1890s from France, the term “libertarianism”
      has often been used as a synonym for anarchism and
      was used almost exclusively in this sense until the 1950s in the United
      States.” Whether or not I think anarchism alone is rational is an endless
      subject, and I’m not really sure I have an answer at the time. The means seem
      rational, but the ends seem rather nebulous when not joined with something else.
      Communism, say.

  158. SuckMyPasolini

      lol, fuck word

  159. deadgod

      Ha ha–I’ll try not to be jealous of your pretzel logic, and you don’t be jealous of the 99% who have ‘partners’.

      I don’t know how much direct responsibility Katehi had for policy or implementation, but getting rid of the one person, without addressing policy or turning the conversation–I mean:  media coverage–to the less proximate cause of Prop. 13 transferring enormous $ from the middle to the upper classes in the course of DDTfunding education in Cali – that, to me, smacks of, eh, prematurity.

      You’re wrong about our criminal-justice employees.  ‘Property over life’ is the prime directive of the wealthiest citizens, but everybody has an interest in just laws and just enforcement.  The cops – and Teabag Nation generally – are natural enemies of the top, what, 20%.  Throw away your potential (and natural) allies and you fight a stupid, losing war.

      Not fucking with you about anarchism and libertarianism:  I think most smash-the-staters and Uncle-Miltie-Friedmanites would be surprised to be described as exercising practically the same political-economic incompetence.

  160. Guestagain

      creeps come in all colors. the only thing  worth noting about Cain regarding race is he broke every barrier and I winced when re reading this and shouldn’t  have included the slur although a quote. in the shtick of dehumanizing candidates for fun cuz I’m so pissed I should have used pizza ceo, and then added robot.  let me know if you spot any non anecdotal false equivalences here in general.

  161. deadgod

      Ha ha–you could’ve said you were insulting ‘lower’ primates by comparing them to Mitt Headroom or Sticky Newt and I’d have believed you.

      I saw part of the interview, and now I’ve seen the whole thing; Stahl – brave lady, to tell that scary lobbyist that she’s “mad” at him!! – plainly and without contradiction introduces the piece by calling Abramoff a “Republican lobbyist”.  Of the “100” or so offices he touched, how many were Democrat?  25? 10?  –maybe five, right?

      Yes, of course there’s “Wall Street”, corporate $ in the Democratic party, private financing of campaigns taints everybody, there’s Baucus and Nelson, and so on–

      –but there’s no reasonable doubt which party is the party of “Wall Street”, and no possibility that Elizabeth Warren, say, could ever run for any office as a Republican on her platform of rational financial-biz regulation.

  162. Laura Carter

      Good one!!! 

  163. deadgod

      [By the way, one false equivalence leaped out at me:  Ney refers to “shotguns blaring”.  Shotguns and klaxons (normally) have ‘loudness’ in common, but shotguns don’t “blar[e]”.]

  164. Guestagain

      the entire 40 year democrat county government where I live has been indicted for corruption. if u think, rather, let’s say believe, the dems are in some relative way more sacrosanct and above reproach than the GOP and this entire government has not been compromised to the point of illegitimacy then evade/avoid/deny and dither away. ideological zealots stand on blind faith just like religion and the pols counts on it. so far I’ve been accused of classism and racism so sexism is the only thing left as all your doublespeak and thought has been trained out of these 3 boxes

  165. deadgod

      in some relative way more sacrosanct and above reproach

      Using an oxymoron to smuggle an absurdly hyperbolic mischaracterization?

      I think the “ideological zealotry” of ‘everybody is so tired of the partisan bickering’ – a zealotry that would fail to discriminate, for example, between ‘conservative’ and progressive standards of evidence and logic – is actually as damaging to political problem-solving as the mendacity, incuriosity, and irrationality that are essential to ‘the Reagan legacy’.

      [I wasn’t “accus[ing]” you of racism–I like teasing ‘conservatives’ for being shtoopit – no soft racism of low expectations from me, ha ha ha.]

  166. Guestagain

      deadgod, I think anyone 2 inches to the right of Mao is a conservative to you, you’re a very entertaining individual and I’d love to ply you with drinks and sit back and listen, although you might already be hammered when posting here, rockets red blare

  167. NLY

      “Forcing people to notice and even to think more critically than they’d like about something they’d rather ignore is “violent”.”

      I get that darby is attempting to pass this off to us, and that he expects us to see this argument as the crux of a broader complaint. Not only do I find his complaint, and his argument, on their own respective terms, highly dubious, I find his combination of them here to be to no substantial effect, aside from a certain pettiness diminution on his part. It is neither persuasive nor useful: it doesn’t contribute to this conversation, it doesn’t lead to any useful distractions, and it’s thinly spread.
      Darby likes to nitpick. I found this one ridiculous, and forced.

  168. Whatisinevidence

      1. I have had many run ins with cops.
      2. See previous answer.  I’ve been arrested a few times but never convicted.
      3. Yes.  I got away!
      4. Yes, several times.
      5. Nope.  ACAB.

      I fucking hate police, all of them.

  169. Whatisinevidence

      Why would anyone be in a coalition with people who are brutalizing them?  Your cop apologism is disgusting.

  170. deadgod

      The coalition already exists; I’d bet that 99% of OWSers who come home to a ransacked, burgled crib file a police report and cooperate with a prosecution if the thieves are found.  Your robotic cop scapegoating is repulsively stupid.