Here is all I know from personal experience: Eudemonia is around the corner from the Marine recruitment office in Berkeley. Every day, Code Pink protests in front of the office. It’s been months now. The Daily Show did a segment on it, and someone came in and interviewed WyllJ once several months ago, but he didn’t get on the Show. I still haven’t seen the relevant episode but I heard it was hilarious: someone got asked “wouldn’t it be great to have an organization sworn to defend free speech?” and the code pink person enthusiastically said “yeah! that would be great!” Last week one of our regular kids walked in waving a flyer and said “I just got recruited at by the Marines!” We were surprised that the recruitment office was able to have people standing outside passing out flyers at all. I guess Code Pink isn’t out there literally 24/7 like I’d thought. Once before the new year I saw a young man in handcuffs and a small knot of protesters marshaling their resolve to speak to the cops that had him. “He tried to set an American flag on fire,” they told me. Is that against the law?
I just googled code pink and came across this: http://michellemalkin.com/2008/03/22/photos-the-counterinsurgency-in-berkeley/
I don’t read conservative blogs, ([emo turret voice]no shit sherlock) so this is all a new style for me. For example, comments on another entry on Malkin’s blog that read: “San Fransicko and Berzerkeley need to be carved out of California and Floated off on their own. These people aren’t Americans!! They don’t belong here, any more than illegal aliens. Nuff said!!” and “Just look at these Liberals. Look at all of them. They are just pure ugly. Their aesthetics are hideous. When you see them out there “protesting”, it is very rare that you see one that is not ugly, or dressed like they didn’t get dragged through a cat’s butt. Yet when you see the Conservative side, they are generally good looking, clean cut, well groomed, clean shaven, well dressed etc.”
Which brings me to do more research, such as this from like 3 days ago: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/03/22/BAL5VOTU9.DTL
Something interesting happened and I wasn’t there!
My initial opinions? That them boycotting Berkeley businesses isn’t really scary, since … yeah, the guy coming in from Santa Rosa probably isn’t a regular shopper in downtown Berkeley anyway. You know.
It’s really strange to be involved in downtown Berkeley business, not that I actually know anything about what it’s truly like. I got to talk to the owner of Pegasus at a Downtown Berkeley Association meeting at the Gaia building a few weeks ago that Dean had me tag along to, which was cool because A) I really like Pegasus, B) we got to hear her thoughts on Barnes & Noble closing down and on Staples opening up and Cody’s moving onto Shattuck from 4th street and how she’s worried about what’ll come in to replace Ross because it is “such a big space that whatever comes in will change the face of the street” and C) I hadn’t been back inside the Gaia building perimeter since I’d moved out with a sour taste in my mouth after the Great Leak Fiasco of 200… shit, what years was it? 2003? 2002? 2004? Fuck. Anyway there’s a tiny theater with a tiny stage and a mezzanine to mill about on and Cancun supplied tiny delicious tacos. Anyway Berkeley is a strange place.
I fear I have nothing to say. I’m not apolitical, but I am full of doubt; plus self-education on these matters takes time and if I can’t get up in the morning I can’t really hope to do any sort of research or self-improvement either. I guess I just think it’s sad that people get narrow-minded and perhaps foolish and it taints the message as a whole, which may have started out being one that I agreed with. So we turn our Daily-Show-eye inward and set them up Borat-style for auto-ignorant self-mocking. Anyway I usually walk on the other side of the street, for I have delicate sensibilities and am repelled both by angry old people in pink looking for a fight and by angry old people with leather jackets and motorcycles looking for a fight.
What to do about Code Pink? I agree with them and I disagree with them. I feel real visceral fear when I entertain the notion of a draft but I don’t think harassing soldiers or dismantling the military are ways to go either.
Some half-hearted gallivanting about on the intarwebs brings me to some other blog with this post on suing Phelps, where there’s the comment “There is an intersection between the rights of free speech and the right to privacy… The statements being offensive should not be the issues, but rather if the mourners (all of them) where denied the right to a private, quite [sic] and dignified funeral.” And so on. I am reminded straightaway of Serenity Now. It all still makes me feel really enraged in a truly helpless way. I wonder if more states will pass laws protecting the individual’s right to a peaceful funeral. I wonder when legislation will be passed regulating online conduct and what shape it could possibly take.
On Friday I saw a vigil in the park on MLK/Center/Allston where people walked through candles set up in concentric circles. We did that kind of thing at Newman retreats before, for meditative purposes. One year we set up a really big one using beans and cornstarch and other biodegradable things, and after we walked through it, we drew stuff in it. I don’t remember the word for it. I also can’t find any pictures of it; I know I had some on my hard drive at some point. Anyway, I couldn’t figure out what the vigil was for, but there was an effigy of someone being carried overhead. Then a few blocks away, near the downtown bart station, there was a march with lots of people in bright vests with signs that said “OLYMPICS IN CHINA TORTURE IN TIBET.” A dude with a megaphone led a chant, but the other side of the crowd gently warped off and got out of sync. Echoey. Berkeley = fun times.