People Live Here, Y’know

There’s a story in The Wizards of Armaageddon about how people used to protest the building of Nuclear Weapons at the Lawrence Livermore Lab in Northern California. The protestors would line up, single file, at the end of the military base, and take a single step forward onto the test field, where a very polite police officer would arrest them for criminal trespass, read them their rights, and put them in a waiting van. This would happen over and over and over the day of various nuclear tests.

It was polite. Civilized, even.

No such joy today, in DC, when people on stilts in giant Uncle Sam suits coated with dollar bills, or oil, will stop traffic, render a couple of parks unusable, and attempt to “shut down” places like the IRS. They come from their homes all over the nation to the Capital to exercise their right to petition the government for redress of grievances.

But, instead of being polite, like those at Livermore, they’re angry, and they’re out to get the government that they feel is out to get them. Is that my fault? No. Why are you punishing me by destroying my commute or making my life more difficult? I don’t like the war any more than you do, but that doesn’t mean I need to get all drastic and mess up the lives of ordinary people, doing ordinary jobs.

Some protests, like the one described here are a lot more clever than the movement to “shut the IRS down for funding the war,” and I welcome its non-disruptive creativity. Sadly, they’re not the standard around here.

You want protest? Protest at your congressman’s office. Protest at your senator’s office. Protest at the Capitol. Protest at the White House.

Leave the rest of the city to those of us who live here.

3 Comments so far

  1. Max (mcook) on March 19th, 2008 @ 10:30 am

    Ah, I was wondering why they were protesting at the IRS building. Now it makes sense….sort of.


  2. Don (dc_don) on March 19th, 2008 @ 11:38 am

    I always have mixed feelings about the disruption caused by protesting. I remember when I was living in Miami during the Elian boondoggle and protesting Cubans disrupted the highways by laying down in front of toll booths – my thought was "you didn’t make CASTRO late for work, fucker!"

    At the same time, though, the protest isn’t purely to poke at the decision makers. After all, it’s not like the public reaction to the war is a surprise to anyone at this point. The point is, as it always has been with protests, to create awareness. Clearly there’s nobody at the IRS who has any ability to change the course of the war, but I sympathize with the desire to make a connection between the war and its costs.

    After all, we just got the news this week that the Fed was going to commit 30 billion bucks to guarantee financial instruments in the Bear Stearns sale, a simply stunning number and it’s caused a lot of talk about the appropriateness of the government covering private risk and a lot of people have decried it as a ‘bailout.’

    30 billion pays for just 4 months of the Iraq war at current funding levels.

    So if that’s the kind of message you’re trying to get out there, I can understand why you’d want to make your stink at the IRS and do what’s necessary to get air time on the news. I’m not comfortable with it or sure I’m okay with it, but I can get why they’d be there rather than on the steps of the Capitol.


  3. RumorsDaily (doorframe) on March 20th, 2008 @ 12:04 am

    Eh… you’re in DC.

    It’s not like they’re protesting in Boise. Pretty much everywhere you go in this town is federal this, or Congress that. We’re in the most governmentally important city in the world and it’s been the center of protest activity for at least a hundred years (my knowledge of pre-Civil War protests is murky). As much as they chose to come here and slow down your commute, you chose to move to DC where you have to have known stuff like this is going to happen on a fairly regular basis. And if not here, where?

    That being said, I stayed inside today and enjoyed watching the rain hit my windows, so I wasn’t effected at all, which makes it easier for me to be dismissive of your concerns.



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