11/12/2011

caught with his pants down

I've been thinking about the right idiomatic expression to capture the weekend, and this one keeps coming to mind.

The sane advice is to let things lay low, to be patient, to let stuff fizzle out. At least, that's the strategy I'd advise.

But you just can't help going for one more fix, one more rendezvous, even if it requires escalatingly hilarious, in retrospect, actions to hide what's happening. At some moment you're caught, your bluff is called, and the exposure itself is what is damaging; you still retain the technical authority to do what you want, but you find that people don't really want to do what they're told simply because they're told to do it.

The Mayor's Office, by its own gambit of escalation, got owned by a couple dozen nobodies* nobody is paying attention to. What strategist is mapping this out? The city abandoned any notion of urgency or danger to the public by its inability to carry out the threat at 3:00pm, with the cameras rolling. The absence of action at that time is the deafening silence of walking in on somebody with their pants down. All the noise thereafter is just that, noise.

And for what? A one night stand?

*okay, might be exaggerating slightly for effect here. It's called hyperbole. Or is it adynaton? Does anybody care?

Anybody?

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11/11/2011

nothing happened

So for the first time I swung by the OccupySTL. Actually hadn't been down to Kiener Plaza in quite some time, perhaps not in over a year.

The city released an ultimatum to the group that has three fascinating legal angles for me, perhaps most fascinating now that nothing happened. First, the notion that the city would start strict enforcement of ordinances is a plain as day admission of how our two tiered justice system works - selective prosecution is so engrained in the system that it is not even hidden. The city document leads to the obvious conclusion that most city laws are enforced lackadaisically. They exist not so much as rule of law as tool of power. Second, saying effective immediately at 3:00pm sets up a binary choice of confrontation; there is no way for cooler heads to prevail without completely blinking. Third, what does the Constitution's protection of the right to assemble actually mean? Every big city government in the country takes money and other support from laws passed by Congress, and Congress quite explicitly is forbidden from passing any laws respecting the right of the people to peaceably assemble.

At this stage there is a lot of hunger for answers (answers that conveniently fit in an existing, authorized, enclosed box). One of the most subversive acts of the occupy movement, I think, is its focus first on trying to create space for the questions. The right questions then reframe the whole debate.

Which is of course what's so dangerous about letting the rabble gather in public. It destroyed the British empire.

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