Dress Rehearsal

A dispatch from a place we haven’t quite got to yet:

A newsfeed running in one corner of his display served up a
fresh riot from Hongcouver. State-of-the-art security systems gave
their lives in defense of glassy spires and luxury enclaves—
defeated not by clever hacks or superior technology, but by the
sheer weight of flesh against their muzzles. The weapons died of
exhaustion, disappeared beneath a tide of live bodies scrambling
over dead ones. The crowd breached the gates as he watched,
screaming in triumph. Thirty thousand voices in superposition: a
keening sea, its collective voice somehow devoid of any humanity.
It sounded almost mechanical. It sounded like the wind.

(The above photo is copped from an album of “Democramotivational” posters by Russell Barth.  They really are worth checking out.)

Today’s post’s going to be light on the links; I’m in a hurry, and there’s no real need. Pretty much every allegation I cite here is easily available online from multiple sources. Start with the local newspapers — The Toronto Star, the Globe & Mail, even the staunchly lawnorder National Post seems to have smelled the rot in the air — and move out from there to the twitter feeds and the myriad Youtube videos putting our fair city on such flattering display.

A whole week later, and most of the world seems to have moved on. We’re frogs, after all; take the stimulus out of our immediate perceptual sphere and we’ll forget it ever existed. But suppose we were mammals? Suppose we were capable of adding two and two, of learning from experience. What take-home messages would we have distilled from the G20 festivities?

For one thing, we might conclude that the best way to avoid an altercation with the police would be to start smashing windows and trashing cars; Yonge Street was rampant with random acts of vandalism last Saturday, and a myriad cops just stood around watching. On the other hand, if you were looking for a truncheon across the spine your best strategy might be to sit down in the street and start singing “Oh Canada”; our brave Boys in Blue didn’t seem to have any trouble at all rushing those troublemakers from behind. Other strategies included penning in peaceful protesters with rows of shield-whacking riot cops, ordering them to disperse, and then refusing to let them leave (one of these incidents happened about two blocks from where I live); refusing to recognize the press credentials of the journalists you arrested on, well, no charge anyone admits to now; or just beating on random bystanders for no good reason.

They tried to put a couple of kinds of topspin on the aftermath. At first they took the line that “property can be replaced but lives can’t”, so their strategy was to simply let the protestors “wear themselves out” against the storefront windows (and presumably against those abandoned police cars set alight, curiously bereft — one might even say stripped-down — of the computer hardware that normally festoons the dashboards of such vehicles). When that didn’t jibe especially well with the proliferating footage of unarmed civilians getting the ol’ snatch-and-grab or a boot to the head, they told us that evildoing anarchists had doffed their black costumes and were blending in with the regular folks; what choice did the police have but to attack folks who looked regular, just to be on the safe side?

A cynic might suspect that the truth was a whole lot simpler: behind the truncheons and the tear gas and the riot helmets, these assholes are just cowardly chickenshits who didn’t want to risk going up against someone armed with so much as a brick pried from the street. Why, those fuckers might actually fight back when attacked. Going after unarmed protestors sitting on the pavement is so much safer.

Police Chief Bill Blair didn’t just admit to lying about sweeping and draconian laws that never actually existed; he bragged about it, with a smirk on his face. Countless citizens — demonstrators, journalists, joggers, grocery shoppers for fuck’s sake — were told that they would be arrested if they didn’t submit to searches on the street, if they didn’t hand over their papers on demand. Most submitted; and many were arrested anyway, on whatever flimsy pretext the badges could sift from their illegal searches. If you happened to have a pen-knife keychain in your pocket you were guilty of possessing a “weapon of opportunity”. If you happened to have a filtermask in your backpack — you know, those disposable things painters and pest control folks wear to protect their respiratory tracts from fumes and smog and solvents — you were attempting to “disguise” yourself. (One woman arrested on that pretext had a filtermask because she was an artist — who did freelance work for the Toronto PD.) I’m given to understand that one dude was hassled because he was coming back from a soccer game carrying a vuvuzela1; it could have been used, he was told, as a “call to violence”. (Of course, he was told this before he identified himself as a crown attorney. For some reason he was not among the nine hundred ultimately arrested.2)

The take-home message from these reports and images might be: if we didn’t want to mow those armed and helmeted stormtroopers down before, we sure as shit do now. When the people charged with upholding the law lie to the citizenry about what that law even is; when they give “lawful commands” to disperse and then prevent anyone from dispersing; when they detain, search, arrest, and attack jes’-plain-folks for no better reason than that the Cylons look like us now — maybe we’ve passed the point at which we should be letting these thugs and bullies stomp all over us. Maybe we should start stomping back.

It’s an easy reaction to have, given the evidence of our own eyes, the smug admissions of the authorities themselves. It’s hard not to feel the blood boil. The problem with fighting back, of course, was articulated very eloquently by a dude posting under the name AngusM following my rant about the BP spill: every act of violence on the part of us little people can be used to justify “increased repression in the name of ’security’. The attackers can be painted as ‘extremists’ and ‘fanatics’, while the state presents itself as the guardian of ‘peace’ and ’stability’. Terrorist attacks strengthen rather than weaken despots.”

I don’t think there’s any denying the truth of AngusM’s argument. It bears pointing out, though, that it really isn’t an argument against the use of violence at all. It is an argument for violence — or rather, an argument that highlights the unparalleled effectiveness of violence as a means of getting your own way. When the state cracks down, after all, it doesn’t do it with daisies and fluffy kittens; it cracks down with guns and gas and snipers. The problem is not that violence doesn’t work; it’s that it works too damn well, and the other side has cornered the market. No matter how many guns any individual might stockpile, next to the state we are as naked as newborns.

But if violence plays into the hands of the repressors, nonviolence does exactly the same thing. I don’t think we have in this country any realistic possibility of bringing about real change by working within the political process, simply because it’s impossible to mount a political campaign without corporate sponsorship. You can’t get elected without getting your message out; you can’t get your message out without backing from wealthy benefactors; potential benefactors got wealthy in the first place because the status quo works just fine for them, thank you very much, and they’re not about to throw their support behind any candidate who’s likely to force them to clean up the messes they make3. In fact, they will do everything within their power to ensure that such candidates never rise to power. Hell, look at Obama down in the US; potentially the most radically innovative president in generations, and in terms of his performance on matters of civil rights and governmental transparency you’d be hard-pressed to tell him from Dubya.

Bureaucratic and political organisms are like any other kind; they exist primarily to perpetuate themselves at the expense of other systems. You cannot convince such an organism to act against its own short-term interests. So we seem to have a situation in which working for change within the system is futile; rising up against the system (even non-violently) provokes greater repression from the state; and protest itself is only permitted if it is ineffectual and if (in the case of the recent summits) none of the targets of discontent are ever even line-of-sight to the discontented.

It’s not really news, but we seem to be living in a soft dictatorship. The only choices we’re allowed to make are those which make no real difference.

But there is one possibility that might give some cause for hope; the chance that deep down, as strange as it may seem, they are more afraid of us than we are of them. The chance that ironically, it might have been that very fear that made them rub the G20 in our  faces, even when other sites would have so much less disruptive. The chance that disruption of the little people was, to some extent, the whole point of the exercise.

They didn’t just have to show us who was boss, you see. They had to convince themselves.

For once, this isn’t an offering from my own fevered paranoid little brain. I’m cadging it from a dude called Geoff Dow (aka Edifice Rex). His intriguing conclusion about the choice of locale for the G20 summit is that, consciously or unconsciously — but nonetheless, deliberately — it was “designed not so much to cow the nation’s citizens … but to comfort our so-called leaders”.

His reasoning makes a scary kind of sense. Surely by now, the world’s leaders have seen the portents: the collapsing infrastructure, the financial meltdowns, the countless environmental disasters which — absurdly and against all their cherished beliefs — are actually wreaking economic havoc already, long before they’re safely dead and the next generation is left to foot the bill. If their conscious minds haven’t yet acknowledged the smell of rising sewage, their brain stems at least must be serving up some diffuse sense of dread as they lie in the dark each night between their zillion-thread sheets, something they can’t quite put their finger on. On some level, consciously or not, they know that something is seriously wrong here, and — consciously or not — they’re scared shitless.

Dow again:

… Stephen Harper deliberately “made a bloody mess” of downtown Toronto not only because he could, but because doing so made him feel strong; exercising the power to order 19,000 armed men and women is a form of magical thinking which he “and his buddies” feel will translate into the power to order about the economy and the weather.

Consciously or not, Toronto was turned into an armed camp, because our ‘leaders’ foresee a time when brute force will be all they have to hold on to the reigns of their illusory power.

I don’t know if I’m convinced by this. It credits the G20 leaders (or at least their brain stems) with a degree of insight I’m not sure is especially common amongst that crowd. But it’s a plausible model at least, given the data; maybe these people really did built the Bastille in downtown Toronto last week.

Maybe what we witnessed was — on some subconscious level, at least — a dress rehearsal for the Revolution.


1An offence deserving of incarceration, granted.

2Neither were any members of the so-called Black Bloc, as far as I’ve heard. But by now, who’s counting?

3To be honest, the majority of the population is also unlikely to vote for a candidate who tells them to stop living beyond their means, grow the fuck up, and rein in their standard of living to something a bit more sustainable.

This entry was posted on Saturday, July 3rd, 2010 at 9:18 pm and is filed under misc, rant. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

80 Responses to “Dress Rehearsal”

  1. Michael Johnson

    So many people seem to be above the law for the sake of our so-called protection. I think it’s worse here, in the US, but I don’t keep up with Canadian affairs closely enough to put any conviction in that. Here, the constitution gives us the right to armaments so that we can rise up against the government if it becomes too oppressive. However, the government has tried very hard, and succeeded quite well, at quelling that possibility. It would become an act of terrorism that would never end well.

    Revolution? Perhaps. If Canadian police can prowl about beating citizens to get their hard-ons, Americans can create another Tiananmen Square and nobody would lose sleep over it were it an act of so-called terrorism. I am appalled at how many people I meet (including much of my predominately Christian family) refuse to think for themselves. If the republican party announces something, it is as good as scripture to the so-called Christian. That leads to other discussions about religion and why I am no longer among them, but that’s another topic entirely.

    I think that with the way many of the people in MY country think, it would take a tremendous amount of pressure to cause a revolution. I think the fate of the US, at least, is closer to what was predicted in Charles Stross’s Accelerando.

  2. Tweets that mention No Moods, Ads or Cutesy Fucking Icons (Re-reloaded) » Dress Rehearsal -- Topsy.com

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by torforgeauthors, Chuck LeDuc Díaz. Chuck LeDuc Díaz said: My favourite analysis of the #G20 in Toronto, by Peter Watts. http://bit.ly/9XVrlo […]

  3. Jason Stackhouse

    The answer is -targeted- violence. Meeting the Enemy in numbers, on the barricades, is decidedly out of fashion and likely to get the wrong folks killed. Better to study the work of MEND, the mujahidin, and the rest of the 4G all-stars. Take notes.

    An oppressive system is a system, not just an oligarchy of suits and a few thousand armed apes on payroll. Like all systems, it has inputs which are vulnerable to attack and which generate simply astounding ROI when disrupted. Money, legitimacy, logistics; these are the new targets.

    @keanani Ever hear the tale of the Lion and the Fleas?

  4. Kai

    Hrrm, I’ve been waiting to see your thoughts on the matter. RSS feeds for the win.

    From the rather large assortment of things I’ve read this week, all of what you say I think ranges from possible to probable. Watching more and more information unfold has been a sort of surreal experience, given my background.

    It’s actually been amazing the number of similarities, echoes of things I’ve seen before. Many having a hate on for protesters of any shape or form, agreement that any level of force is alright so long as they maybe get the violent ones, discussions that throw terms like “civil liberties lawyer/proponent” around as if they were vile and grievous insults, media being escorted away from police action… I think it peaked for me, when a reporter said the police threatened to gangbang her to make sure she never acted as a journalist again. I’ve heard all of that before, young as I was, the last week has felt like I’ve stepped through a time warp. I couldn’t even sleep Sunday night. About the only thing that was different, was I didn’t see any reports of anyone being killed, but that was it. Even the display of the weapons seized, which had questionable items, harked back to those days.

    Being a kid, I didn’t have a lot of power, but I did what I could wherever I could to help people. As an adult, here, I’ve been pondering if I have any real means to help either. Not sure I do. I hesitated before adding my name to a petition for inquiry and sending off e-mails, but then I realised all my volunteer work probably already had me etched into some dark database somewhere. I’m curious to see if anything comes of the calls for it… it has me worried, but at the same time part of me thinks it’d be a hilarious sort of cosmic joke to find out that moving to Canada only changed how cold I am.

    I will say though, that fear of the citizenry is rather prudent, the effectiveness I think you may underestimate. As an individual I may not be that effective, but it does not take a lot of resources to become so. Even more so, I would think in a literate/educated citizenry. The tendency is to be more passive/patient/non-violent certainly, but I’d think once the line was crossed they would make a much more formidable enemy. And this view is based on what was possible when the force was impoverished and widely illiterate.

    Of course, I rather hope this is all theoretical. Even though there are at times these sorts of events… I much prefer being bored, really.

    Oh and for any wishing to join me in having a shiny government profile, petition info here:

  5. whatever suits you

    Nyah! Cryptocommunist spotted!
    Seriously, though : what _do_ you offer, mr. Watts? I see three general possibilities.

    1) Leave it be. And let everything slowly degenerate into new feudal order.

    2) Fight teh powah! And get majority the right to decide for themselves. However, you refer to majority as people who should “grow up”. Doesn’t look like it will end well. Robespierre anyone?

    3) Enlightened dictatorship. Main difference from 1) – single ruler, not oligarchy.

    I’m not telling those are the only outcomes, but undoubtedly – none of others could be reached without 2) or 3). So – what do you propose?

  6. turn.self.off

    the way i see it, the bureaucracy that been built up over the centuries have become so solidified that even if the top tier or two gets replaced, for the lower tiers its business as usual. Any grand plan that the newly elected leader(s) have will be filtered down those layers until at the other end its distilled water and homeopathic promises.

  7. Johan Larson

    I don’t deny your basis for anger, Peter, but politically effective arguments need to appeal to many people, not just a few. And to my eye at least, the police handling of the G20 summit was not bad enough to piss off those who aren’t ideologically primed to bitch about the police. The cops hassled thousands and arrested hundreds, but they didn’t maim or kill anyone, so those who are inclined to cut the police slack will do so.

    The more effective political target is the money. At more than a billion dollars, the G20 summit was shockingly expensive. This fact is not fuzzy or complicated, so it’s an easy punch to throw, even in the permanent spin zone that is the political mass media. At the next election, keep bringing up the billion dollars at every opportunity.

  8. Ensley G.

    I think the most worrisome of the events you describe is the suppression of the press. Organized non-violent protest can actually work (Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., random Californians v/s Enron), but only with the aid of a free press. I also think it’s important to remember that the non-violence has always been one sided, historically. How many Indians were killed, beaten, and imprisoned by the authorities of the Raj before Britain gave in? Here in the US, towns such as Birmingham and Selma have become shorthand for incredibly vicious brutality in the name might v/s right. The astonishing thing about the successful movements of the past was that those involved refused to quit. Despite truncheons, tear gas, water cannons, bullets, dogs, and lynchings. People kept stepping into harm’s way with a prayer and a song, together, and the press kept reporting it until gentlemen in London and Washington had not choice to act or lose their precious and suddenly precarious, positions. Of course, if you can suppress or subvert the press, (as is becoming more and more common in the US lately thanks largely to the need to fill 24 hour news “cycles”) that kind of popular political pressure can’t be brought to bear, can it?

    In the end, police forces are instruments of coercive force, and every society is based upon such force because human animals live together uneasily at best, and that force generally acts as a preventative or punishment against the most egregious violations of the social treaty. We need to stop pretending to be shocked and appalled when our (and I do mean OUR, fellow tax-payers) instruments of force reveal themselves as what they are. Is it right when non-violence is met with violence? No. Is it reality? Yes. It is that reality that makes people like Gandhi and King, and all those who stood with them, paragons of courage and examples to us all.

    One other thing: The independence movement in India and the Civil Rights movement in the US were terrifically well organized popular movements. I honestly have no clue as to what the G20 protesters were protesting, and I don’t think they do either. Every other protester had a different cause or grievance, and most of them were working at cross purposes with one another. These are individual movements, not popular ones. Even assuming a free press, you can’t get a message across if you don’t have one.

  9. Uplinktruck

    Here’s a couple observations from inside the news media camp.

    Incidents of reporters and camera crews being stopped from doing their jobs was only a small number of here and there incidents. At no time (while the cameras were rolling) were any of the crews I fed for hassled by the police. This conclusion is based on the watching the raw tape feed from several different networks showing several hours of rioting. The continuous nature of the scenes indicates they moved around pretty much as they wished.

    On the other hand the rioting protesters (a/k/a thugs) routinely threw things at the shooters. They were physically assaulted, and shot tape of other photographers being attacked. Most of the crews stayed together to protect each other from the rowdies.

    I was particularly amused by a CTV tape of an injured protester. Several of the surrounding protesters were trying (unsuccessfully) to block the photographer while some lady was saying “Please respect his privacy.” Silly lady. Taking part in a riot on a public street pretty much voids any claim to privacy that might otherwise be enjoyed.

    From a personal stand point it was frustrating for me watch on two points.

    The first issue was the protesters moving up Yonge street were virtually unchallenged by anyone with the exception of one bystander and two security guards. Where in the Hell were all those police officers while that roving band of thugs broke windows and (gasp in horror) damaged the marquee on a strip joint?

    The other frustrating observation is there are that many who people feel it is okay to go down the street smashing and vandalizing store fronts at random. Even if the goal was national chains (what the politically correct chain Starbucks did to incur their wrath is beyond me) the message is lost in the outrage against their actions. There goal was missed as well.

    I know, I know. There is a very small minority that think these people are heroes of the highest order. But the vast majority of the rest of the world see this as nothing more then thugs at work. That doesn’t do much for whatever the message was supposed to be.

    There is one other consideration that should be noted here. You know all those security measures, real and contrived, the people of Toronto had to endure? Restrictions on everything from photography to walking too close to the wall?

    You can thank the band of thugs that smashed windows, burned police cars and generally behaved badly for all that inconvenience. You may also thank the group of people who make it a point to go to all of these conferences recruiting people to dress up in black and then wreck their city.

    Right or wrong, legal or not those are the people that ultimately own the blame for walling off vast parts of your down town area.

  10. Pyperlie

    Jason Stackhouse:

    What does MEND stand for? A cursory Google search turned up a lot of hings, none of which seem to make sense in context.

    Unless you mean Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta?

  11. Jason Stackhouse

    @Pyperlie That’s the one. They’ve pioneered techniques off pipeline/corporate logistics sabotage that return literally millions of dollars of damage per dollar spent, and with few insurgent casualties.

  12. Jason Stackhouse

    *of, not off. Dang new-fangled touchscreens.

  13. Cat Vincent

    I believe that is the MEND Jason Stackhouse refers to – specifically he’s riffing off ideas from John Robb’s writing on 4th Generation Warfare. Robb once got fan-mail from Henry Okah, the head of MEND and one of his exemplars for a 4GW warfighter.
    Here’s Robb on Okah: http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/2008/02/henry-okah.html

  14. Jason Stackhouse

    @cat Robb’s actually a tad sensationalist for my taste, but he does provide a handy framework for discussion.

  15. keanani

    @Jason Stackhouse who asked: “@keanani Ever hear the tale of the Lion and the Fleas?” Hi. 🙂 I heard of a proverb: “A flea can trouble a lion more than the lion can harm a flea.”

    I must confess, at the moment I am a bit more concerned about the as usual wimpy-okole State of Hawaii Legislature for not standing up for the right of non-heterosexuals to marry or at the very least, form legal partnerships equivalent to marriage with all of the rights and benefits accorded therein. As usual, the fear instilled in those wanting to be reelected, are taking the side of the Traditional Marriage Religious Based Advocates. Even if by passivity. As it stands, we must wait until Tuesday to see if the Governor vetoes the bill.

    Oh my, I was not really sure if I was going to post on this here thread, since I posted quite a mass on the BP Biocide Praise Rant thread and the Appearance of the Orcs at the G20 Summit thread.

    Since everyone before me has touched upon most things likely to be responded to within Peter’s post, I will as usual blaze my own path of mind-warping response without any of my usual goofy flourishes, although I sense a Fritz would say blather as usual.

    But that’s ok, I am fine with my mind and what emanates from it, for it is the only mind I’ve got.

    Besides, my having just read my way through a stack of National Geographic mags, my mind has an awful lot of stuff packed within it. Hence the stuff I bring up in this post. (Yeah, good thing I decided to take out the stuff about wild bird-domesticated bird-pig-human interspecies virus mixing-mutating resultant killer flu strains as something people should really be afraid of)

    However I am just expressing my thoughts and not looking to spar.
    (Hmm, you know Peter, I am starting to suspect that I am capable of info-dumping naturally)

    Well, here goes nothing that hopefully won’t morph into something along the heated discussion reaction lines…

    Peter said: “It bears pointing out, though, that it really isn’t an argument against the use of violence at all. It is an argument for violence — or rather, an argument that highlights the unparalleled effectiveness of violence as a means of getting your own way.”

    It is also rather likely that anyone resorting to violence as a means to get their way is clearly demonstrating that if it takes violence to getting what one wants, then the what one wants is not something necessarily positive, good, beneficial or universally acceptable.

    Violence as a necessary tool of resistance is justifiable for those who are being erased, and when all other methods and means have been exhausted and rendered ineffective that would halt the injustice, inequality and wrongs.

    Violence is necessary when one has to justifiably defend one’s self from it.

    However, when a Government resorts to violence to control its’ people, then one needs to ask why.

    Is the resort or threat of violence by a Government against it’s own people justifiable? Ever? When is violence justified? Does it depend upon who is committing the violence and for what “cause”? Justifiable for righteousness? Human rights? Moral rights? Self-Defense? Defense of a people or country? By what measure is a cause more worthy than another? Does it depend upon whether violence is committed by one nation upon another as opposed to a Government resorting to violence within it’s own borders?

    It also seems rather evident that some cultures, ethnic groups, ideologies and religions, are more aggressive, domineering and/or violent than others, or would more likely resort to violence to get what they want or their way. Most notable in today’s world. A supposedly more humanly evolved and enlightened world.

    This is why we see Tibetans who are being erased from Tibet, including their culture, not resorting to violence. This is why we did not see all U.S.A. Native Americans join the AIM cause that was active in the 1970s. (It wasn’t until September 0f 2004 when the long overdue National Museum of the American Indian, recognizing and honoring the U.S.A.’s First Nations, opened on the Washington D.C. Mall.) This is why the 1970s Hawaiian Renaissance did not continue to bloom fully into a radicalism that ensured the rise of Hawaiians within their own ancestral homeland and lost country as a dominant political, social and cultural force.

    This is why we see that after 10 years of languishing in the U.S. Congress, the Akaka Bill has still not been passed recognizing people of Hawaiian ancestry as an indigenous people of the State of Hawaii and hence of the U.S.A.

    Many Hawaiians do not believe in violence as a means for long overdue social justice. The “weapons” utilized, (thanks to now threatened Ali’i Trusts as being “racially discriminatory”) is through the means of education and knowledge, for those of Hawaiian ancestry, so that they will no longer be relegated to the bottom of the heap as their ancestors, the “dying race”, were after the Illegal Overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy and subsequent loss of sovereignty and rights. Through education, social and political activism, and other non-violent methods, Hawaiians have defended their native and cultural rights within Hawaii, for now.

    (This is why Queen Liliuokalani chose non-violent submission in the face of the threatening U.S. Marine backed group of greedy American businessmen, some sons of Missionaries who came to Hawaii to help the Hawaiians advance into the modern world and become literate, instead of resisting through armed conflict because ultimately, she knew that the Hawaiian people, reduced in numbers and being out populated by non-Hawaiians would be further decimated. She believed that the U.S. Government would right the wrong, but her faith was sorely misplaced.)

    Recently, on both the islands of O‘ahu and the Big Island of Hawai‘i, someone or some persons hacked and chopped papaya trees in an obvious display of violence at trees that is ultimately aimed at people. An act of vandalism due to a jealous, rival farmer or people opposed to genetically modified papaya aka “Frankenfruit”.

    Then we see what happens when people resort to violence to get their way for their particular people based upon man-created categorical differences of ethnicity and religion, among other things, such as the horrible tragedy, atrocities and genocide of Rwanda. The ethnic-religious violence in the Balkans. The ongoing ethnic-religious conflict between Sinhalese-Buddhists and Hindu Tamils in Sri Lanka. The ethnic tensions in Fiji. The ongoing genocide in Darfur, The Sudan. The Han Chinese-Uighur ethnic violence in Western China. The recent ethnic Uzbek-Kyrgyz violence in Kyrgyzstan. The recent elections across Mexico where Drug-Cartels and gangs are using violence, threats and murder to prevent the Mexican people from voting. As we can see, violence has been and will always be, a means for people to get their way.

    But a Government doing so is certainly a clarion call that should wake people up to the fact that their cherished freedoms, rights and safety is not as guaranteed as it once was. Seemingly. Supposedly.

    I am going to state what I am feeling about this whole thing. While I vehemently disagree with the heavy handed nebulously justified security means and methods as utilized, displayed and defended by the Canadian Government, as so clearly revealed in Toronto during the G20 Summit, I wonder if what has happened is an inevitable reaction to the world we now live in and the reality that we all must face such that this is going to be the way it is. I also wonder if the crackdown is also a preventative response to the fact that protesting itself has become more violent and sometimes nefarious tactics are utilized by some who pass themselves off as “protestors” just to be able to commit acts of violence as their means to make a statement and not to really, truly, meaningfully effectuate actual change that is indeed rightful and necessary.

    Is the trade off for safety, protection and thwarting of the ever-present threat of violence that we all must forego the freedom we once knew and expected to always have?

    Is it a necessary “evil” in light of the reality of the world we live in now?

    Our so-called freedoms are now irrevocably entwined with the reality of violence by so many groups, who stand for rights, ideologies or stances, whether animal, environmental, religious, political, social, racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, lifestyle or whatever anyone can come up with, who have at one time or another resorted to threats of or actual violence as a means to force their way upon others. So how does anyone, let alone a Government know, or recognize the potentiality for such a threat, when it is not so easily recognizable?

    Relative to this, and by comparison, for the sake of perspective, I also wonder where all the anger, ranting and protesting was/is for say the mass murders of females in Ciudad Juarez. Where is the outrage for the ongoing mass rape of females in The Congo? Where is the outrage for the sexual enslavement of women and children across this planet? Where is the mass protest against “honor killings”, “acid attacks”, “female genital mutilation” and “fistula pariahs”? Why is there no vociferous outrage for the Swat Valley elders beheaded and the acid burned girls who dared to believe they had the right to an education, by radically fanatical religious people who believe that violence is their means of forcible compliance to their ways?

    Some anti-abortionists have resorted to bomb blasting violence against doctors and pro-choice advocates as a means for their religious beliefs to be forced upon others, effectively usurping the right of any woman to her own body and the choices as to what she wants directly affecting her body and life. Is not the human right to live and exist free from harm and violence ultimately more important than a right to freedom of speech and protest against a Government’s ideolology?

    I am questioning what is it exactly that is important to most humans as basic and fundamental rights that all believe in regardless of the human created social, political, religious, cultural, ideological and national constraints.

    Welcome to the Brave New World of which many humans have been living in for quite some time. The supposedly “First World” countries are experiencing what the reality of so many people on this planet have been or still are experiencing.

    My worldview includes the whole world and what happens in some far off corner of this world, and not as focused on my own seemingly safe and rather snug palm-swaying, breezy, flower scented, laid-back easy, multicultural, multiethnic paradise, better off-utopic island archipelago where I was born, mostly raised and have have lived for most of my life. I always ground myself back to the reality of being grateful for my own life as it presently is, because life is so much worse for so many people on this shared planet upon which we all exist. Just because of where I was born. But this does not seem right. It is more than humbling to realize this fact and reality.

    I have met many people, throughout my life, from childhood on into the present, who left their various countries for a better life in the U.S.A., or in Hawaii, and they were/are grateful for the opportunity to do so because the life that they now live is so much better than the one they had left.

    What I would ask is why would anyone believe that they are entitled to anything more than anyone else on this planet just because of where they were born? Is it a right? Is it thank the lucky stars? Or is it something that is supposed to be guaranteed to all within a countries’ borders? It is something worth fighting for? Is not the Government supposed to uphold and defend such a right? Such an array of rights? Are these rights of which we are born into national, geopolitical, ideological, cultural, ethnic or human? All of the aforementioned? What makes humans believe that their rights are more important than or trump the rights of non-humans?

    I have traveled to and lived in many places across this planet and met many people from all over. What many had said to me is the seemingly lack of care, concern and knowledge about what is going on in the lives of others outside of the U.S.A., and the assumption that Americans are isolated, predominately concerned with what is going on within America and to America. That was when “globalization”, “interconnected technology”, “mass shared cyberspace experiences” and “warpspeed communications” were not in existence. Today, this can no longer be the case when we are all so much more interconnected and affected by one another and not just what happens in our own particular part of the world.

    In today’s increasingly human overpopulated, polluted, violent, resource grabbing, natural resources depleted, environmentally destroyed, irrevocably lost non-human species and socially impersonal world, is it any wonder that things are not getting better, as in humans being more enlightened and actually striving for harmony, peace, justice, fairness, equality, human and non-human rights, advocating reason and rationality, a more humble egalitarian way of life, and being stewards of the environment and planet everywhere in this world?

    Why won’t the majority of people who are “well-off” see that it is far better to live simpler lives so as to in good conscience ensure the survival of other people “a world away”, as well as an effective, sensible and right way means of better ensuring the survival of the various flora and fauna that are being squeezed off the face of this planet? Why won’t people give up their beyond belief array of material things? Do people fear not keeping up with the Joneses? Perhaps the majority of people simply do not want to make the necessary changes until others do. Monkey see monkey do.

    Therefore must a Government then strongly insist that changes shall be made for the good of us all? Why isn’t Biomimcry a more prominently advocated method to help us humans achieve environmentally friendly, compatible, sustainable products and finding better, safer solutions to our most “vexing problems”? Perhaps people have just gotten too comfy and apathetic. Lulled into a state of routine and safe laziness? Inevitable group think where we all can hide blameless and without responsibility? Going with the flow until we are forced to change course?

    The American public, of the U.S.A., has for decades, allowed the Food Industry to dictate via enticing advertisements what we should eat, while nefariously increasing the portion size to levels that a sensible person would not even consider devouring, let alone shoveling down their esophagus as a singular meal. At the same time this overabundance inevitably results in wasted food that conceivably could help feed those who have no opportunity or means to acquire food to eat in the first place.

    Consumer drones buzzing about doing what we are told but complaining about it as if it is not at all our responsibility or fault for the consequences of our blinkered existence because we are afraid.

    Afraid of each other, this world, this life and ourselves.

    Afraid of failing. Afraid of not being competitive. Afraid of not being valued. Afraid of being left behind. Afraid of not being accepted. Afraid of apologizing. Afraid of admitting our wrongs. Afraid of our mistakes. Afraid of our accomplishments. Afraid of not being good enough. Afraid of being too good. Afraid of not living up to expectations. Afraid of being a target. Afraid of losing. Afraid to be courageous. Afraid to take chances. Afraid of change. Afraid of the old ways. Afraid of not being loved. Afraid of pain. Afraid of pleasure. Afraid of being useless. Afraid of being discarded. Afraid of helping. Afraid of not being heard. Afraid of speaking up. Afraid of not being seen. Afraid of being seen. Afraid of our faults. Afraid of our flaws. Afraid of control. Afraid of losing control. Afraid of our thoughts. Afraid of our hopes. Afraid of our dreams. Afraid to make a difference. Afraid to take a stand. Afraid to speak our mind. Afraid of the truth. Afraid to know. Afraid to see. Afraid to hear. Afraid to feel. Afraid of our past. Afraid of our future. Afraid of death. Afraid to live. Afraid of our very existence.

    To be human is to be afraid. Being afraid, however, does not define us.

    What would any one of us do if we were not afraid?

    People are not even truly happy despite the lifestyle of stuff. Are we all not prisoners of our own minds? Seems that “The Hungry Ghost” is never satisfied. Life is indeed ephemeral and we are all subject and witness to the impermanence of it all. There simply is no time to dwell upon being afraid.

    Peter said: “But if violence plays into the hands of the repressors, nonviolence does exactly the same thing.”

    Indeed. This is sometimes true.

    But it also true that change, a catalyst for change or the hope towards it, is and can be made, however big or small, without resort to violence, as evident by the singular voices, lives and/or deaths of people like Mukhtar Mai, Aung San Suu Kyi, Theo Van Gogh, Neda Agha-Soltan, Somaly Mam, Samantha Power, Esther Chavez, Ryan White, Mother Theresa, The Dalai Lama, Robert Gerard Sands, Father Damien, Justine Masika Bihamba, Nomfumaneko Yako, Ituri Forest Mbuti, Nkosi Johnson, Maria Gunnoe, Jane Goodall, Victoria Ka‘iulani Kalaninuiahilapalapa Kawekiu i Lunalilo Cleghorn, Red Cloud, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Rosa Parks, Nujood Ali, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, among so many other human beings past and present…in addition to the trifecta usually mentioned, Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.

  16. V

    “You may also thank the group of people who make it a point to go to all of these conferences recruiting people to dress up in black and then wreck their city. ”

    I really do wonder if those were disguised cops or military police, or what. Legislators, law enforcement officials, and journalists have been blaming anarchists for protest-related violence for over a hundred years . . .

    That said, I want more facts. But the whole situation leaves me sick.

  17. V

    Oh, and as I said two posts back:

    “Based on what I have seen thus far in my life, the best way to hurt these jerks is to hit them in the wallet.”

    Our best weapons are economic weapons. That said, I think we need to band together to use them effectively and in a way that will send a message. And to avoid ideology; to draw a line between a divise act of manifesto and an act of survival. The difference may be all PR, but good PR seems to be at least as good as as a metaphorical sawn-off in situations like this. Minds are currency.

    Had a *long* conversation with a friend from Hungary about this recently. I was talking about service-oriented volunteering I do or want to do or want to start doing again, and he said it offended his misanthropy. What he really meant was “What is the point if nothing changes?”

    And I said I couldn’t disagree with him there.

  18. Außenseiter

    @Jason Stackhouse

    I’m sure you are on the “list” by now.

    @Uplink truck
    So, should we lock up anyone who even suggests violence as a political tool?


    There’s enough violent bampots. Police have been known to stir things up with AP’s, but several hundred of them, that’s unlikely. In Prague, a few years ago, they were an international collection of assorted deluded leftists who wanted to smash something. Cavemen were smarter than that.

  19. Julian Morrison

    Politics isn’t a fight for temporary control of the government. That is just short term political Brownian motion. It’s a fight to move the Overton Window. That is where the long term action is, and that fight is on equal terms.


  20. Vlad

    Ah, cognitive dissonance.

    On the one hand, I’m sympathetic, and would like to point out Robin Hanson’s homo hypocritus take on law-making and enforcing (also supporting your own experience with the law). Geoff Dow’s analysis also struck a chord – for politics is mainly about power.

    On the other hand, I’m incredulous. Uplinktruck’s testimony paints a less paranoid picture. And in this day and age of dirt-cheap near-instant communication, mentioning “coporate funding” sounds more like learned helplessness than a real obstacle to (political) action.

    Finally, I cringe at the martyr syndrome on display. Almost by definition, in a “one man, one vote” system, an average man will have a marginal impact approaching zero (and so our actions never did have any more political effect in the past than they do now). A minority of anti-establishemnt intellectuals are just that – a minority, not the will of the people. And aren’t all revolutions led by those few who can smell the power of the ancien regime but not priviliged or able enough to have it?

    If people wanted plain vanilla freedom, they’d vote libertarian. But they don’t, and this speaks volumes.

  21. SpeakerToManagers

    @ Ensley G.
    “The independence movement in India and the Civil Rights movement in the US were terrifically well organized popular movements.”

    Quite true. I was involved in demonstrations and marches in both the ’60s Peace Movement and the Civil Rights Movement, and I can tell you that what made one work was that there was a group of people who planned what was going to happen, a group of people who each acted as local communication and observers for a part of the marchers, and also watched carefully for people who were violating the conditions of the march which everyone had agreed to beforehand. And there was a strong sense among demonstrators that those agreements were the norms we would work under; violating them was considered highly uncool.

    Also, there were, when practical, backup groups following the march outside its route who carried medical supplies, and contained both medical and legal personnel, to try to deal with the aftermath of police violence and over agressive arrests, and photographers to record a counter to the police account of events.

    Without that level of organization (and a continuance of that organization from event to event), all you have are occasional circuses, where the cops get to vent their frustrations in an approved fashion, and the marchers get beaten, with no change in the political situation. With that organization, you can have a successful movement, with both political and social change. It’s not easy, though. The Indian Independence Movement and the US Civil Rights Movement both took decades and many lives to be successful; consider how long and how many dead were needed to eliminate apartheid in South Africa, or the Pinoche dictatorship in Chile, and note that the Burmese military dictatorship is still in power, despite a highly-organized opposition.

  22. Kai
  23. 01

    On one hand, Mr. Watts, I agree with you in regard to the fact that indeed, your local police has demonstrated disregard for the law (the whole not-quite-existent laws being enforced), and the place was chosen in an extremely provocative manner (outskirts of a smaller, more remote city would have made for a more controllable environment, and could have even benefited the city in a roundabout way)
    The amount of police abuse demonstrated was apparently outstanding.

    On the other hand, the protesters are way fucked up.
    There is nothing particularly evil about G20 to warrant that level of disruptive response. I mean, come on, throughout the history of this event, the degree of protester malice has systematically escalated.
    I have no sympathy for people who intentionally come to disrupt an event that does not carry immediate and apparent threat.

    I do, however, have sympathy for simple Canadians like you who got caught up between the hammer and the anvil, so to say…

    Mr. Watts, one more thing… did you receive my email?

  24. Damon

    What these protesters lacked, as has often been the case lately, is organization. Slap a couple thousand headsets on these freedom-fighters and then we’ll see how successful the baton-nazis are at holding lines and making arrests. Divide-and-conquer works both ways.

  25. Anony Mouse

    Ensley said “Organized non-violent protest can actually work…”

    I agree that non-violent protests work, but they work much better when there is state violence against the protesters. We all remember the iconic picture of the Vietnam protester putting the flower in the barrel of the National Guard rifle, and Martin Luther King’s march. But I would argue that the National Guard’s shooting of students at Kent State, the assassination of MLK and lynchings did far more to invoke change than the peaceful protests alone ever would have.

    Police using force to break up a riot in which the rioters are breaking windows and setting cars on fire is not going to increase public awareness and sympathy, but a video of riot police rushing a crowd of people sitting on the ground singing the national anthem certainly does.

  26. RandomJ

    “Police using force to break up a riot in which the rioters are breaking windows and setting cars on fire is not going to increase public awareness and sympathy”


  27. Uplinktruck

    Außenseiter –> Depends on the circumstances. If it is in the context of incitement to riot, then yes. That is over the limits of free speech.

    Someone saying “I’d like to smash Bernie Madoff’s face in” or “I’d like to burn down my cell phone company” without actually doing it or suggesting someone else do it, no.

    However, the minute someone picks up a brick and launches it a window that does not belong to him/her to make some political point, the rules change dramatically. That little asshat, and any acting in a similar manner get slapped in cuffs and tossed in jail in the least courteous manner allowed by law. Then they are prosecuted in the harshest of no deal terms available allowed under the law.

    There is no excuse for trashing out other people’s property because they are pissed off at the system.

  28. Mattan Ingram

    G20 protests are an “event” now, not a true protest. Thus why you get so many opportunistic thugs who like to run around and break stuff, they aren’t doing it for protest reasons.

    How much you want to bet that the vast majority of protesters (both violent and peaceful) have no idea what it is exactly they are protesting besides “the Man”?

    I am in no way defending the actions of the police/government which in many cases were despicable or very poorly thought out, but the protesters are hardly worth defending either.

    Honestly I feel many of these protests do more harm to the ideals that supposedly drive the people than help. It’s the same way that outspoken feminists (“that’s NOT funny!”) do more harm to feminism than help.

    Protests that “work’ are due to a certain cultural momentum, not due to awareness brought up by the protests. Take the civil-rights movement for example. Protests and marches did not win that battle, a rapidly growing black population (meaning more white kids playing with black kids, white adults working with black adults, etc.) did. If there were as many gay people as there are black people, gay civil-rights would have been done with a while ago.

    The ideals behind the G20 protests simply do not have that pressure behind them because nothing bad enough has happened to galvanize a critical mass and change in societal ideal.

  29. keanani

    Speaking of dress rehearsal, these folks should have been invited to the G20 Summit~ 🙂

  30. rm3154

    The responses to the current post were mostly of a political nature.
    Maybe it’s just me, but is there an underlying vibe to this post — something at a deeper level? Does anybody remember Peter’s story “Bethlehem”. The basic idea is that eventually, things tend to spiral down to a bad place. Is that what the title is about? Is this a dress rehearsal for Bethlehem?

    It may seem a bit silly to claim that the G20 nastiness is a end-of-the world omen. On the other hand, the stresses accumulate and eventually something will give. Political violence will surely be a part of the transition. Eventually the G20 style vandalism and police brutality will be the new norm. Was it useful in any way to have a little taste of these things in the here and now? Just because one subscribes to doomsday scenarios, doesn’t mean that doomsday won’t happen. Just saying…

  31. Peter Watts

    As uplink and others have pointed out, there were definitely some epic shitheads storming around downtown during the summit, and as far as I can tell they didn’t even adhere to their own self-proclaimed code of conduct. Thomas Walkom’s recent opinion piece — while mainly addressing the whimpering ease with which we give up our liberties in the name of “security” — also thumbnailed the official anarchist rationale for the whole brick-&-window brigade. If he thumbnailed it accurately, it’s hard to imagine a dumber justification for property damage (attacking something until it defends itself does not, in my books, prove that the defending party is “inherently violent”) — but these dooves even failed to honor that flawed rationale the moment they branched out from Starbucks- and Gap-bashing and started putting out the windows of local mom-and-pop optometrists and strip clubs. And even the nonviolent protestors didn’t, in large part, seem to know what the fuck they were protesting exactly. My buddy Dave Nickle interviewed a number of those protestors in the course of researching his own column on the subject; he rolled his eyes afterwards and (in paraphrase) opined that most of them were doing little more than providing noisy and inarticulate cover to the handful of vandals in their midst.

    But his opinion did a complete one-eighty overnight, once he saw how the police were behaving.

    There were shit-heads and criminals in that crowd. But there were not, by any stretch, over a thousand of them (the number of documented arrests has climbed considerably since the post that started this thread off). There’s no way the 57-year-old amputee who had his artificial leg ripped off while sitting on the grass at Queen’s Park was a vandal. The journalists arrested and assaulted after showing their credentials were not vandals. Neither was the middle-aged veterinarian who woke up in his own bed in the middle of the night to find four heavily-armed cops pointing their weapons at he and his wife, insisting (falsely) that they had an warrant with his name on it.

    With all due respect to Vlad (with whom I agree, incidentally, when he suggests that the majority of the GTA’s population just don’t give a shit), it is not paranoid to be scared, outraged, and furious at these violations. It is not pure dissonance to take exception to a police force that knowingly and deliberately lies about the laws it is charged with enforcing. Estimates of the number of true troublemakers in that crowd ranged from “a handful” to “a few hundred”, tops. Over a thousand people were arrested, the vast majority ultimately released without charge after periods of incarceration varying from hours to days. They were not allowed access to counsel during these times; many weren’t even allowed access to toilets. (And let’s not even get into the alleged jokes/threats about gang rape.) Do the math.

    I’m not saying nobody has a right to strike back against vandals and criminals (although as uplinktruck has already pointed out, it’s remarkable that the police didn’t actually do that when said vandals were trashing their way up Yonge Street unimpeded). I am saying that when Al Quaeda knocks over your Wal-Mart, you don’t kick the shit out of Bolivia in retaliation. And if you do, there’s pretty obviously something else going on.

    Something else is going on.

  32. 01

    @Peter Watts

    Well,Mr. Watts, in my humble opinion (And, as an inhabitant of a country with notoriously ill-mannered law enforcement, I believe my opinion to be relevant) what is going on is that horrible mismanagement of police human resources (more specifically the tendency to hire and/or promote “tough” aka violence-prone people instead of competent and law-abiding people) has reached new highs in your law enforcement, which when combined with lock-step attitude (protect those our own!) and an uncannily flexible perception of proper conduct which are typical of any highly regulated venue (and law enforcement is immensely regulated) has given Canada a police force that is almost as bad as ours (Russian, that is) .

    You just need slightly higher corruption and you’ll be set ;-).

    This happened “naturally” due to tendencies typical (according to sources from somewhat similar sectors of human activity) in any high-risk, high-regulation job combined with your (apparently bad) staffing and management policies in law enforcement (and we all know that law enforcement tends to naturally draw people with power issues…due to, you know, power of such position)

    And then, the above unreliable, violence-prone (aka “tough”) police force was pitted against an erratic, escalation-prone human mass of an ill-conceived protest (seriously, could someone please explain to me what exactly those protests are supposed to achieve, what exactly the G20 should do so the protesters would just say “mission accomplished” and disperse, is such a goal even formalized in any manner?), which was further complicated by arrogant leadership prone to fancy demonstrative acts.

    That’s a recipe for disaster. Disaster happened.

    And the saddest bit is that this shit isn’t part of some grand plan, which makes sorting it our so much harder.

  33. Peter Watts


    Actually, I don’t think I did receive your e-mail. I’ve read the comments you’ve posted here on the crawl, but I have no record of an actual e-mail — at least, not one sent from the address attached to your comments.

  34. Hljóðlegur

    Mattan Ingram: you get so many opportunistic thugs who like to run around and break stuff, they aren’t doing it for protest reasons.

    Uplink – see, my eyes weren’t the only ones to pick this out, this Zerstörungfreude, or whatever that proper term is for the glee of smashin’?

    Ensley G: In the end, police forces are instruments of coercive force, and every society is based upon such force because human animals live together uneasily at best, and that force generally acts as a preventative or punishment against the most egregious violations of the social treaty. We need to stop pretending to be shocked and appalled when our (and I do mean OUR, fellow tax-payers) instruments of force reveal themselves as what they are. Is it right when non-violence is met with violence? No. Is it reality? Yes.

    What he said.

    Pretty much his whole comment, actually, except you can’t just point to Alabama towns if you want to see historical legally-sanctioned violations of the rights of non-whites. Most sundown towns? In the northern states. We mustn’t kid ourselves that this stuff stopped at the Mason-Dixon line.

  35. Nick Van der Graaf

    I might argue with a couple of your points but I think this is generally bang-on. Bravo.

  36. seruko

    @ Mr Watts
    You said “Something else is going on.”
    This is manifestly true.
    Sadly the else is somewhat boring.
    To correctly run a police state one must keep the citizens in a state of fear.
    As there are lots more citizens than the police (the police themselves yada yada) can … police.
    To keep a large number of citizens in a state of fear one must show that the state has the sole monopoly on force and also that applications of that force are _random_. If the good and the evil are punished by the state, the only defense is staying off the radar. Keeping ones head down and blending in with the herd. This kind of behavior has always installed compliance in large populations, even militant ones, and there’s no reason to think it wont work now.

  37. Kai

    Independent civilian review in the works:

    Not sure if that’s good enough or not yet though, depends on what the powers given are… and I’m not sure 12 weeks is sufficient to review something of this scale.

  38. keanani

    Peter said: “Hell, look at Obama down in the US; potentially the most radically innovative president in generations, and in terms of his performance on matters of civil rights and governmental transparency you’d be hard-pressed to tell him from Dubya.”

    Hey, Barry aka Barack “So I know whose ass to kick” H. (Harvard) Obama, is from Hawai’i, but really a Chicagoan, so actually closer to you geographically, and George (Nuculer) “I don’t believe God picked who was going to be the president” W. (Whathehell) “Texas Tea” Bush is a Lone Star Texan. Big diff’ Dude 🙂

    Some more Obamaspeak:

    “A good compromise, a good piece of legislation, is like a good sentence; or a good piece of music. Everybody can recognize it. They say, ‘Huh. It works. It makes sense.”

    “Americans… still believe in an America where anything’s possible – they just don’t think their leaders do.”

    “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

    “Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential.”

    “I don’t oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war.”

    “I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we’ve struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We’ve made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.”

    “I opposed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. It should be repealed and I will vote for its repeal on the Senate floor. I will also oppose any proposal to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban gays and lesbians from marrying.”

    “Who is Barack Obama? Contrary to the rumors you have heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father Jor-El to save the Planet Earth.”

    Some more Dubyaspeak:

    “I’m a thoughtful guy, I listen to people. I’m open-minded. I’m all the things that you know I am.”

    “I guess his grandmother died again.”

    “Reading is the basics for all learning.”

    “The senator has got to understand if he’s going to have — he can’t have it both ways. He can’t take the high horse and then claim the low road.”

    “[The evildoers] can’t stand the thought of a nation which recognizes that people can worship an Almighty God in different ways.”

    “I believe government has an obligation to open its coffers for competitive bidding to faith-based and community-based groups in order to make sure America — America’s souls are saved one person at a time.”

    “We must all hear the universal call to like your neighbor just like you like to be liked yourself.”

  39. Peter Watts

    Hey, I said “in terms of his performance on matters of civil rights and governmental transparency”. Not in terms of oratory. In terms of oratorical skill Obama’s a 5th-degree black belt; Dubya never even got around to break falls.

  40. Hljóðlegur

    It has gotten very serious here, so we need an article entitled,

    Super squid sex organ discovered


    Go ahead and look you filthy perverts – there is an actual photo of this fellow’s super squid wang.

  41. 01

    @Peter Watts

    Odd… I’ll email you again when I get back home…

  42. Sheila


    I wish we had a goofy-assed post to post goofy-assed comments to. Or things like, hey Mr Dr Pete, have you seen this benthic weird-ass science thing? Isn’t it cool/depressing/indicative of the dissolving of the universe?

    or, wtf, http://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/~dunbarlab/overview.html and I was just wondering about stuff like this and saw an article by this guy and he’s in Toronto. Maybe some of you Toronto peeps know him or work with him because Toronto is so small, right? Like I should know everyone in Chicago.


  43. 01

    Okay, another email has just been sent.

  44. Außenseiter

    I kept telling libtards, that Obama is just another shill.

    As to his vaunted oratorical talent, I ask you, if he is an orator, why the fuck does he have speechwriters? Eh? There are videos of him flapping around haplessly after his teleprompter gave up.

    Dubya is an ignorant bastard. Funny thing is, he probably isn’t dumb. He just doesn’t bother to think, apparently. Someone dug up his old tests from the texas air national guard, and compared them to those of people with known IQ scores. He probably has IQ around 120 or so, but for some time, he’s been trying to never get “out-dumbed”.

  45. Flanders

    As a liberal, I feel I must suggest, respectfully, that you go fuck yourself.

  46. Flanders


  47. keanani

    Peter said: “On some level, consciously or not, they know that something is seriously wrong here, and — consciously or not — they’re scared shitless.”

    Yeah, drug usage defended as a religious right, genetic tinkering of humans, and Giant Squids elevated to God status…they should be scared!

    Drugs and Religion Just Don’t Mix:

    Kinda reminds me of “Church of Peyote” and “Magic Mushrooms”

    “Zombies and Giant Squid: Summer’s Monster Hits!”

    From the paleovirolgy originating vampirism in “The Passage”, and “Kraken’s” psuedoreligious cult worship of the Giant Squid, Hawai‘i’s pakalolo, “stupid weed” aka marijuana ressurection from hippie times into sacramental religiousy usage, and the genetic mixing of humans with the “hippie chimp”, resulting in a humanobo, in Laurence Gonzales’ “Lucy” (similar to Crichton’s “humanzee”)…

    Peter, dude, you were already on to this…

  48. Außenseiter

    You’ll see how wrong you were about Obama.
    One can never be cynical enough. I never thought “change you can believe in” would include ordering extrajuidicial executions of US citizens…

    And, btw, you’re not a liberal. You are a social demagogue lofász. “Liberal” is supposed to mean someone who is for smaller government, less government interference into business, personal liberty and responsibility.

    So called liberals in the US have been even trying to regulate how much salt can be put into food. If that’s not the definition of insanity..

  49. Flanders

    All right, you want to mix it up?

    First: You don’t know me or my position on Obama, so you can’t speak to whether I was wrong or right about him. For your edification, I voted for him as a moderate reformer. I did not expect him to be the Second Coming (although I will admit some did). Also, he is still a damn sight better than Senator Cranky and Holy-Crap-does-the-hole-have-no-bottom half-term Governor Palin. While he has not lived up to my every hope (He seems obsessed with making the courts strike down Dubya’s unconstitutional power grabs, rather than, you know, doing the right thing and closinggitmorepeaingDADTcrackingdownonpolluterswashingmycarfixingtheeconomyetcetcetcetc), he has a long way to go before I regret voting for him.

    Yes, the salt thing is stupid. And, rightfully, it got smacked down. Because the state senator who proposed it was an idiot.

    As long as we’re choosing what each other’s proper label should be, I’m going to go out on a limb and say you’re a neocon fuckwit. Because too much government regulation is exactly what got us into the BP spill situation in the first place. Because too much government regulation brought us the credit default swaps, housing bubble, MBD’s and other artifacts of fiscal “innovation.” Because I can trust the fucking invisible fucking hand of the fucking market to keep my drinking water from catching fire, lead out of my children’s toys, provide a decent wage, and keep me from dying in penury the minute I am no longer of use to the wonderful gods of the free fucking market.


  50. proudinjun

    Fellas, come on now!!! Let’s not get personal!!! The world is going to hell in a hand basket, and it’s not the fault of the liberals or the conservatives, it’s the fault of humanity itself. Turning against each other just perpetuates violence and an “I don’t give a fuck” attitude towards humans in general. Let’s quit bickering and figure out a way to fix it!!! I’m tired of everybody passing the blame. I have done nothing to eliminate my carbon footprint on this planet. I haven’t gotten angry to the point of wanting to give up my vehicle to show the oil companies that I DON’T NEED THEM. iF YOU WANT TO BLAME SOMEBODY, TAKE A LONG, HARD LOOK IN THE MIRROR. I DID, AND WASN’T REAL HAPPY WITH WHAT I SAW. Am I a sheeple? Perhaps. As keanani pointed out, I AM AFRAID. So quit tearing each other apart, please!!!

  51. Peter Watts

    Yeah, I gotta weigh in here myself too. While I take strong exception to Außenseiter’s implication that being flustered in the presence of a malfunctioning teleprompter is grounds for revoking Great Orator status (I’ve read first-hand testimonials from journalists who engaged Obama informally and en masse; all raved about the ease with which he extemporaneously handled unscripted questions on a wide variety of topics), surely there’s lots of legitimate grounds for disappointment to go around on all sides. The fact is, being the best politician in the game is actually a pretty low bar to clear these days.

    But this is not the place to go around calling each other assholes. This is the place to sling that name at Popes, and Palins, and teensy-dicked little border guards with Napolean complexes. Surely we should be united here against the common enemy.

    (And no, I don’t mean the Judean People’s Front.)

    So play nice, or so help me I’ll turn this thread around right now and dose the lot of you with oxytocin. Or even worse, I’ll write a post about the stuff. Just as soon as I get this damned “Coming Attractions” sidebar up and running…

  52. Flanders

    Okay, I retract the “neocon fuckwit” line. That was needlessly personal, and unbecoming of the usual tenor of this forum. Apologies to Außenseiter, Peter, and the readership at large.

  53. Hljóðlegur

    Apologies to … the readership at large.

    I was enjoying the byplay, so no problem, dude. Specially the all-caps Borat-style offers of back-slappy comradeship. I pictured us all in a russian sauna.

  54. Nox

    Peter Watts: Honestly, “teensy-dicked little border guards”? Would it have been alright if the border guard that assaulted you had a foot-long cock? Instead of using childish invective, why not use something related to the man’s fucked-up personality, morals or inability to carry out his job without beating the shit out of people because he feels like it? Why drag a physical characteristic into it?

  55. Nox

    Peter Watts: I realize you probably just used the expression to describe a man who’s on a power trip, but still…

  56. Peter Watts

    Yeah, small penis size is widely regarded as the archetypal reason for people like Beaudry to overcompensate by being complete and utter assholes. “Teensy-dicked” is shorthand for that correlation, as you suggested.

    Metaphors. We haz them.

  57. proudinjun

    How did we get back to penises again?

  58. proudinjun

    @ Hljóðlegur… I peeked at the link. Does that make me a filthy pervert?

  59. Hljóðlegur

    @proudinjun – We did. Physics dictates it – everything always comes back around to the Penis, the Penis being the center of mass for the male psyche. It has its own gravity well, so when the size of the conversation universe is small, all conversation eventually circles it, then plunges toward it until annihilated by tidal sheering.

    Also, what Peter and other more civilized people here don’t want to mention is that you are now required upon exiting the US to present your penis for inspection, just the same as your car and personal effects, if a LOE requests it. As the US moves away from its flirtation with mamby-pamby gender parity and back to hyper-masculinization, we must be ever-vigilant that no foreigners are depleting our precious supply of penis, smuggling it across the border in their trunks, coats, or pants.

    Why do you think the guards didn’t just tell Peter what they were looking for, instead of roughing him up? Can you think of a more vigilant border patrolman for this type of work than one who has suffered from penis depletion himself?

    I peeked at the link. Does that make me a filthy pervert?

    HMMMM. A tough question. Ask yourself – were you a filthy pervert before you looked? I vote no. I mean, you could have lied about peeking.

    If you were turned on by the article, you’re a pervert overachiever, because you’d be a necrophiliac beastial tentacle-porn size-fetishist. There are a few here, I’d imagine. 😉

  60. Kai

    I’d like to break ranks just for a moment here, because I feel the incredible need to yell the phrase “conservative assholes.” Not at anyone here, but at these sons of…

    If you’re concerned about human rights, you’re a terrorist supporter. If you’re concerned about government/police accountability, you’re a violent anarchist. I know I shouldn’t expect more than elementary school level logic/discourse from these jokers, but that they can spew this stuff with a straight face makes my head hurt. It’s like they carry a personal supply of airborne hallucinogens to inhale/huff at need.

  61. Anony Mouse

    Peter said: Surely we should be united here against the common enemy.
    (And no, I don’t mean the Judean People’s Front.)

    I never thought that you meant the Judean People’s Front, because we all know that the common enemy is the People’s Front of Judea.

    I find the criticisms of Obama amusing. I certainly don’t agree with everything that he has (or has not) done, but that is the nature of politics and government. They are not there to make everyone happy, but they are there to make decisions that either make things better for the majority, or mitigate the pain when the solutions are not in their hands. Only time will tell whether he is successful at these.

    But comparisons between Obama and George? Get real. One is intelligent, articulate, can communicate without a script and has the capability of free thought. The other couldn’t tie his shoes without the approval and help of the VP. I will leave it to you to decide which is which.

  62. proudinjun

    @ Kai

    Not to get into a political debate with you, but on the US side of the border Liberals can step in it just as much as Conservatives can.
    My son was an employee of Homeland Security, and my husband is a retired Army veteran. Imagine my son’s surprise when a directive came down to be on the lookout for extremists… like his father!!!

  63. Anony Mouse

    Proudinjun said: Imagine my son’s surprise when a directive came down to be on the lookout for extremists… like his father!!! [armed forces veterans].

    As much as I sympathize with the impact this has on your son and husband, I think that we also have to look at the facts. Both the Oklahoma bombing and the Olympic park bombing were conducted by ex military; the main suspect in the anthrax attacks was a scientist for the Fort Detrick bio-defense lab.

    But before you jump all over me, I also find it sickening that the decision has been made to deal with this through Homeland Security and not through the military support system. I don’t know if PTSD played a role in any of the incidents mentioned above but it is well known that if it is not identified and treated, PTSD can be devastating to an individual.

  64. Kai


    Ah, I meant it more as that they were assholes, that just happened to collectively be conservatives as well. I tend to watch politics and wonder if they have some predetermined system for deciding who is going to be the drooling moron for each topic/instance of the topic, they seem to do it in round robin.

    I will admit though, I do have a particular dislike of conservatives at the moment. What with the whole enacting fantasy-land based economics to cause global recession. And locally, smiting small business, arts and culture and trying to bring forth a nightmarish copyright reform… All of which makes it particular hard for me to keep instant ramen on the table =P But really, if one of the other groups was at the helm, I’d just have different topics to be pissed about.

    I have this daydream sometimes where there are no political parties, just individuals who are nominated… and who have to be screened based on their education/experience/background before being allowed to make decisions that affect anything beyond their individual lives. And then I snap out of it, read the news and think about quietly sobbing into a pillow. 😉

    At the risk of invoking Godwin’s law though, your son’s experience/that event sounds remarkably Gestapo-ish. All it would need would be a stylized poster, maybe with the words “is your family loyal?” to go with it and they’d be set. =P

  65. proudinjun

    I agree that the most heinous of domestic terrorism attacks were committed by former military. The government has trained them to be killers, my husband and son (who also served in the army) included. Because they have the extensive training, they are more effective. But, in retrospect, to say that all ex-military veterans of wars will become terrorists is like saying because one, let’s say, auto worker axe murdered his family, all auto workers are axe murderers. The other part of the directive spoke of extremist white supremacist groups recruiting disgruntled vets, yet the directive also stated ALL veterans. My husband and son are Native American, yet they are bundled in with the rest of them. Are the politicians trying to be politically correct? I doubt any minority vets are going to be recruited by a white supremacist group.

    I do, however, respect your frustrations at the powers that be. I find myself to be more an independent than conservative or liberal. Seems that no matter which way you lean, politicians are going to screw you anyway they can. They are no longer “of” and “for” the people. They are “of” and “for” themselves. It’s a sad state of affairs these days…

  66. proudinjun

    @ Kai
    Send me your address, and I’ll send you an entire case of Ramen. That stuff is SOOO bad for you!!! Eat some vegies, dude!

  67. proudinjun


    I live in the US, and I haven’t noticed a depletion of penises here due to illegal smuggling out of the country. It is an interesting theory, however. Maybe I should investigate this further. As far as being turned on by the photo…no. Just found it to be rather interesting. Hope that doesn’t categorize me as a necrophiliac beastial tentacle-porn size fetishist. Nor a pervert overachiever.

  68. Hljóðlegur

    proudinjun says: Just found it to be rather interesting.

    *sigh* So no comparing notes on our perversions, I guess. Probably better for all concerned. It was interesting, wasn’t it? I had never contemplated how squid mated, although I was familar with octopus practice, so I assumed it was similar.

    I haven’t noticed a depletion of penises here due to illegal smuggling out of the country.

    It’s like communist infiltration – you never notice until it’s far too late.

  69. Außenseiter

    Me a neocon? You were r putting words in my mouth. I don’t think there’s need for much legislation and regulation. It just has to be good. Market won’t solve everything, as long as there are externalities and power imbalances.

    Good legislation and regulation .. is a pipe dream.
    Which won’t happen in our precious democracy, as most people are hardly smarter than the average perching sheep, and we choose our leaders by popularity contests influenced by business money.

    BTW, imho, there’s no real correlation between penis size and anything, save perhaps the amount of embarrasment or quiet satisfaction one might feel in communal showers (such as those at a swimming pool).

    Journalists I don’t trust. Especially the US ones are a somewhat cowardly lot. As to Obama, history’ll be the judge of him. I don’t like him, don’t care for his rhetoric, nor do I believe he can change anything.
    No one can change the whole corrupt system. The system changes people, it doesn’ work the other way…

  70. Flanders

    Well, there is this:


    Just saying. Poor guy.

  71. Uplinktruck

    @ Anony Mouse –> So let me get this straight… Several terrorist acts were committed by ex-military types. I suppose if we look hard enough we can even come up with a rather large list of ex-military types that are accused and convicted of spousal abuse, drug abuse, felonies, misdemeanors and acts of random rudeness.

    So because of that you want to classify myself and other veterans as a risk to homeland security?

    While you are evaluating this concept, you should also run the numbers. The number of ex-service men and women in the United States and Canada vastly outnumbers the number of bad actors. We are talking on a scale of thousands to one if you add in all the trivialities I added above.

    Using that scale, we could very easily come up with a reason to watch each and everyone of us posting here. That is aside from the slap in the face that entire preposterous idea was to each and every veteran that served honorably.

  72. Lawful Neutral

    The Revolution with a capital R, eh? I think it’s scheduled for sometime between the Second Coming and Ragnarok.

  73. Peter Watts

    Which one? I have trouble keeping them all straight.

    If only they were televised…

  74. Anony Mouse

    Uplinktruck said: So because of that you want to classify myself and other veterans as a risk to homeland security?

    I suggest that you read my posting more carefully. I am saying that, by using Homeland Security, they are trying to address a problem by treating a symptom rather than removing the problem. When exposed to extremely stressful situations for extended periods of time, many people have difficulty coping. This is no secret. It could apply to the military, police, firefighters, etc. It even applies to situations that most people would not equate to “real” stress. There is a reason that “going postal” now has its own meaning (I apologize, in advance, to any postal workers that I have offended).

    My suggestion is simply to put the resources towards providing the necessary support for veterans so that they can cope rather than look at them all as potential threats.

    But your response brings up another issue. We now have a situation, in both Canada and the US, where it has become politically incorrect to criticize the military or individuals within it. In Canada, the government capitalizing on this. If anyone questions our role in Afghanistan (a responsibility held by the government, not the military), the government responds that the person is dishonouring the troops. If you take any group of people, you will find that the vast majority are dedicated to what they do and put in a good day’s work; there will be a handful that exceed everyone’s expectations; and another handful of bad apples. Why would we expect the military to be any different?

  75. Hljóðlegur

    “The revolution will not be televised,
    will not be televised,
    will not be televised,
    will not be televised.
    The revolution will be no re-run, brothers;
    The revolution will be live.”

  76. Peter Watts

    Yeah, I got super pissed-off when I heard about The Passage. Fuck. Someone else coming in to pillage the ghetto and rake in the glory.

    Getting back to the pros and cons of G20 Law Enforcement, though: went to a wedding the other day in which I heard a couple of tales from folks who were actually on-site for the festivities. It’s not much of a surprise that those cop cars were abandoned in a deliberate attempt to provide a lightning rod for violence — the twitter feeds from the local dailies were describing them as “decoys” even at the time — but what doesn’t seem to be widely known is how long it took for anything to actually happen to them. The police sauntered away from their vehicles in the presence of witnesses (they were apparently just around the corner the whole time, doing nothing in particular), and for a solid hour no vandalism occurred whatsoever. Protesters were entering the vehicle and having their friends snap pictures of themselves in the drivers seats, but apparently it took quite a long time before the anyone even took a swing at the windshield, much less set anything on fire.

    Reports that in at least one case — when a car was finally set alight — the arsonist was seen to be wearing strangely police-like shoes remain apocryphal. But given footage like this — in which some beefy belligerent fucktard actually threatens a woman with assault for blowing bubbles — I find such stories increasingly plausible.

  77. rm3154

    Right after the G20 fiasco and all of the nastiness inflicted on poor Toronto, I was pretty sceptical about the whole agent provacateur angle. Having had time to reflect and consider various information sources, I am simply troubled.

    Amazingly, there is a history of this shit happening in the recent past

    “Quebec police admit they went undercover at Montebello protest

    Quebec provincial police admitted Thursday that three of their officers disguised themselves as demonstrators during the protest at the North American leaders summit in Montebello, Que.

    A YouTube video shows Dave Coles, president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, ordering three masked men back from a line of riot police. However, the police force denied allegations its undercover officers were there on Monday to provoke the crowd and instigate violence.


    In the video, protest organizers in suits order the men to put the rock down, call them police instigators and try unsuccessfully to unmask them.

    Police-issued boots identified fake protesters



    Then, there are the costs of previous G20 summits

    Security costs at previous summits

    G8 summit Japan, October 2008: $381 million
    G8 summit Gleneagles, Scotland, July 2005: $110 million
    G20 summit London, April 2009: $30 million
    G20 summit Pittsburgh, September 2009: $18 million US

    I have first hand accounts from the Pittsburgh summit, and there were all kinds of disturbances. But nobody spent $1 billion. This suggests a massive transfer of money. What kind of expenditures are rolled in that 1 billion? That really is a fantastic amount of money. Even with 20,000 cops in Toronto, that’s 50K per cop! Of course not everything was payroll, but still, the magnitude of this expenditure just doesn’t make sense.


    Then there is this video. It’s admittedly polemical, but the points it raises are profoundly troubling


  78. Kai


    I say nae to your veggies! (not really, but an artist has to keep up certain appearances in public at least ;P)

    @Peter Watts

    Saw a video where people actually wrote “prop” and such things on one of the cars while people played with the radio. Read an article though, where there was a claim that the vehicles were part of a convoy, surrounded/stopped by Black Bloc, the front window smashed and the officers inside the vehicle being struck as they fled… But, no video or pictures of that. Only video’s/pictures/accounts contradicting such. It’s all very odd…

    And bubbles? Really? And can’t believe some of the people in the comments to that video claim she was provoking the officer. How the hell can you provoke someone with bubbles? She looked so stunned that he was reacting that way… Gah!

  79. RandomJ

    @Peter Watts

    Yeah, I got super pissed-off when I heard about The Passage. Fuck. Someone else coming in to pillage the ghetto and rake in the glory.

    Peter, did you actually read it?
    Okay, I did (RandomJ, reading stuff so no one else has to 😉 ).

    The parallels between The Passage and Blindsight in terms of vampire depiction are quite few, if any (I, for one, didn’t even think about Blindsight even once when reading it). If anything, it’s strongly reminiscent of 30 Days of Night – the usual “vampirism as uber contagious disease” shebang, however, The Passage also happens to involve a suspicious amount of cliche B-movie tropes (it even has a “child with unique and very important abilities”. And this blog needs airquotes emoticon 😉 )

    BTW, in case you wonder, in TP, the evil ubercontagious evil virus is initially transmitted through…
    …wait for it…
    ….vampire bat bite 😀

    However, it’s not bad (as far as novels about apocalyptic superviruses and poisonous-fanged “shark-face” monsters that jump ten meters into the air go).
    It even reminded me of King’s The Stand somewhat.

  80. 01

    Random, could you lend me your copy? It will be years till we get a translation, and I am way too lazy to order one from abroad…