Posted by: bkivey | 21 March 2012

Occupying Justice

The local Occupy protesters are having their day in court after their arrests last Fall, and while the venue has changed, the actors haven’t. Apparently unaware, or uncaring, that public support has greatly diminished over the last six months, some of them are looking at the courtroom as just another forum in which to act out. This acting out primarily takes the form of insisting on a jury trial for the misdemeanors most of them are charged with, but also involves making the hand gestures associated with the movement in court. While that sort of thing probably looks really cool in General Assembly, I can’t imagine it endears the defendants to the judge.

As the story on the saga notes, most people charged with a first-time non-violent offense have the charges reduced to a violation, where the miscreant pays a fine or does community service, and goes on their merry without a criminal record. The law is upheld, and all concerned are at least OK with the result. Except, apparently, if you have an ax to grind and months camped out in a public space with heavy media coverage just wasn’t forum enough.

Defense attorneys are huffing and puffing in the usual manner, painting a picture of a jack-booted police state crushing their clients beneath the hobnails of oppression. One Leland Berger bloviates:

“The police arrest, handcuff, transport to jail, book into jail and people sit in jail for hours. Then the next day, the district attorney who is reviewing the reports decides to treat it as a violation, and all the people who are being arrested and booked no longer have their rights.”

OK, we’re not talking about the Manson murders here. These are people who illegally denied the use of public parks to hundreds of thousands of people, most of whom were the ones the Occupy movement claims to represent. And getting arrested, handcuffed, and booked is what happens when, you know, you break the law.

On news that the state decided to replace some classes of misdemeanors with traffic violations, making them ineligible for jury trials, an Occupier expressed disbelief: “I’m losing my right to a trial and a public defender?”

To which another Occupier replies: “Only in America.”

Really? I tell you what. Why don’t you take your smelly slacker ass to pretty much anywhere outside the Western world (and some places within it) and pull your Occupy BS? As for ‘rights’, what about the right of the average citizen to enjoy public spaces, or to walk downtown without thinking they’ve stumbled into the outskirts of an impoverished city, or not to have  concerns about whether 911 will bring the police, because they’re tied up with some overgrown child? What about the right of people not to have to worry where the city is going to find the $2 million the Occupy movement has cost to date? And what about the expectation most people have to be able to go to work without being vilified for simply making money, or having to pass by and look at the very embodiment of the entitlement mentality?

Yes, the Occupiers are much concerned with their ‘rights’, although I’d wager not many of them could define the word, much less discuss the development of the concept. They seem not to realize that with rights come commensurate responsibilities. That justice is far from the mind of the protesters in court is shown by this quote from student Grant Booth:

“I wanted to say what I had to say about the way we were treated that night and the way the arrests went down. I want to be able to say what I have to say about it and defend myself and move on.”

Grant, let me give you some advice here. There’s a time and place for everything, and court is neither the time nor the place for crying about how unfair life is. Unfortunately, Grant’s not done yet:

“I wish we could just protest and didn’t get arrested for doing that, but that’s not the case.”

Grant, I give you: the Tea Party.

There are times when civil disobedience is necessary. The Indian independence movement, the American civil rights movement, the Polish demonstrations, and even the Vietnam protests which ended the draft. And there will be time for civil disobedience in the future. I have great respect for people who sacrifice at least their comfort and perhaps their lives to right wrongs. I have no patience at all for people who aren’t really afflicted, can’t even define what they’re protesting, and don’t know when to shut up.

Is It Spring Yet?

We’re two days into Spring, and our normal temps should be in the low 60’s. Today, we didn’t get near 40, and a stalled front dumped 7 -10 inches of snow in the Willamette Valley, with some parts of the coast seeing that same amount. As look out my window, it’s snowing. My oldest sister lives in Chicago (current temp: 73F), and complained that the winter wasn’t cold enough for her. She’s welcome to trade places with me.



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