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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

OCCUPY COURAGE

Actress Joan Bennett
    February 27, 1910: Crowds in Philadelphia attack non-union men operating the streetcars, beating them and the police officers protecting them … F.D. Underwood, president of the Erie Railroad, says: "There is a growing spirit of greed in this country that can only be equal to that of savages"  and Pittsburgh Police Superintendent Thomas S. McQuaid opposes brutality under the "third degree" but says taking away the right of police "to question a prisoner would be a menace to public safety."
    November 30, 2011. Then as now, whenever decent people object to the raping of their wives, husbands, daughters and sons by mercantile bankers, investors and corporate welfare swindlers, those raising the objections are labeled greedy. That reminds me of the imbecile I met in Columbus, Ohio a few years back, a woman who tried to slam a door in my face because I was canvassing against the election of W. Bush. She threw the door in my direction and shouted that I was a whiner. I caught the door and started to say that her corporate masters were the ones who whined whenever they developed a hangnail, but the  woman's daughter beat me to the punch by turning to her mother and saying, "Mom, you are so rude."
World's most expensive shoes: Are you greedy for wanting them or is Nike greedy for selling them?
    Greedy? The folks who have given up huge chunks of their lives to live in tents in municipal parks in bad weather to call attention to the plight of real Americans while breast-suited thugs complain that their filet is overcooked?  
    Because these breast-suited thugs (just invented that description; I hope it sticks) quiver in terror at the suggestion of putting their pusillanimous posteriors on the line of action, they hire city police departments to act against their own personal and collective interests and send the troopers out into harm's way to bust heads and crack skulls.  
     To that end, busloads of LAPD officers closed in on the eight-week-old Occupy Los Angeles camp after midnight last night, declaring the hundreds of protesters congregated on the lawn, pavements and streets around City Hall as an "unlawful assembly" and ordering them to disperse or face arrest. [Wanna see the First Amendment to the United States Constitution right about now? It goes like this: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.] The encampment, which officials had left alone for weeks even as other cities moved in to clear out similar compounds, was among the largest on the West Coast. The demonstration is aligned with the two-month-old national Occupy Wall Street movement protesting against economic inequality and excesses of the US financial system. At least 20 protesters left the area immediately taking with them their tents and other belongings. Others were escorted out by police. At least a dozen people were handcuffed soon after police moved in.
    The national economy and unemployment problem is better in Japan than in the United States, yet many people in the crowded environs of that country are likewise outraged. Inspired by the ongoing Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in the United States, thousands of Japanese youth and workers have taken to the streets to demand stable jobs and government reforms. Two weeks ago, a demonstration in Tokyo, billed by organizers as the largest protest in recent years, drew a crowd nearly 5,000-strong. Workers and students across Japan converged on the capital with raised fists and chants of protest as bands played songs about the anxiety and hopelessness in which much of that country is mired.
    The current official unemployment rate is five per cent, although among youth the official number has risen to almost nine per cent. In fact, more than 45 per cent of workers aged 15-24 hold irregular jobs and just 56 per cent of new college graduates receive job offers, representing the worst situation for youth in the country since World War II.
    Six weeks ago, violence spilled out in Rome as tens of thousands nicknamed "the indignant" marched in many European cities in protest against capitalism and austerity measures. Smoke filled the air in Rome as a small group of violent protesters broke away from the main demonstration. They smashed shop windows, set vehicles on fire and assaulted two news crews. Others burned Italian and EU flags. Silvio Berlusconi, the now-defunct Italian prime minister, said that those responsible for the rash of violence would be identified and punished, not unlike the way his own personal dominatrix punished his royal self, calling the rioting "a very worrying sign for civil society. They must be condemned by everyone without reservation. Those with reservations will, of course, be seated first." Italian police said that at least four people had been injured in the clashes, while the ANSA news agency reported that as many as 70 had been wounded, with three in serious condition. Gianni Alemanno, the mayor of Rome, blamed the violence on "a few thousand thugs" who infiltrated the demonstration.


Meanwhile, right this very second, British public-sector workers are on a 24-hour strike, one which organizers say is the biggest walkout in a generation.
The protesters are raising hell (and rightly) over proposed pension cuts. Up to 19,000 schools have been forced to shut down for one day, while many hospital operations have been cancelled along with courts and government offices. Angry over a pension overhaul, which they say will require them to work longer before receiving a pension and contribute higher amounts each month to the account, strike organizers say as many as two million people have stayed stay away from work. The maestro of the mundane, Prime Minister David Cameron, played down the impact of Wednesday's strike, calling it "something of a damp squib." Cameron said forty per cent of schools were open and the main London airports were working properly, neglecting to admit that by his own figures that meant that sixty percent of schools were closed. 
Occupy London
    Union anger has been fuelled by new curbs on public sector pay and hundreds of thousands of additional job cuts. The measures were outlined on Tuesday when the Conservative-led coalition government cut economic growth forecasts and said its tough austerity program would last until 2017.
    Here in the United States, we have the right to peacefully assemble regardless of man or law. We have the right simply by virtue of virtue. I like it that the Constitution backs us up on this, but it would be irrelevant. As human beings who exercise their existential free will, that collective right exists regardless of the words appearing on any document. All the same, the glorious legal document does exist to make sure the country's precepts are spelled out, despite considerable objections to it over the years. In the 1937 Supreme Court case of De Jonge v. OregonDe Jonge had been convicted for conducting a public meeting under the auspices of the Communist Party. De Jonge had not advocated any illegal activity or criminal doctrine. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed his conviction as unnecessarily restrictive of his freedom of speech and right of peaceable assembly. The high court's ruling applied the right of peaceable assembly and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment, putting these rights on equal footing with freedom of speech and the press.            
"Peaceable assembly for lawful discussion cannot be made a crime. The holding of meetings for peaceable political action cannot be proscribed." Two years later in the case of Hague v. C.I.O., the high court ruled that peaceful demonstrators may not be prosecuted for "disorderly conduct." This case also secured streets and sidewalks as public forums.
Occupy Seoul
    Some people may recall that in 1976, the American Nazi Party requested a permit to demonstrate in the strongly Jewish community of Skokie near Chicago. 
Town officials opposed the request, with many citizens arguing that the First Amendment should not protect people who preach hate and violence. Other people argued that the First Amendment must be for everyone or else it is for no one. After a lengthy court battle, the Nazis won the right to hold their demonstration. Freedom of assembly protects the right of people to organize in opposition to government policies or for other lawful purposes.
    Certainly if the First Amendment does protect the right of a despicable hate group such as the Nazis to march along the streets of an American city in an attempt to encourage persecution of people based on their ethnic identification, then that same Amendment must endorse the freedom of Americans to collectively congregate and object to the open thievery of the hard-earned savings of the ninety-nine percent, to the dastardly stealing of pension funds and investment accounts, to the hideous and immoral evictions of working people from their homes, to the over-burdened college graduates and military personnel, to the typical middle-aged man or woman with no idea what to do about the messed up state of the world. Anyone standing in the way of that free and open expression--knowingly or unknowingly--positions himself right alongside the terrorist bankers and hijacking infidel murderers among the economic elitists. And we say to you men and women temporarily cloistered amid the sterility of your stations that the lights above your heads and beds shall shake from the wrath of those you have so long disrespected and tortured. Hey, who is that you hear at the door? It's your mom, looking for the pepper spray to protect herself from the rest of us. 


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