“In an old joke from the defunct German Democratic Republic, a German worker gets a job in Siberia; aware of how all mail will be read by censors, he tells his friends: “Let’s establish a code: if a letter you will get from me is written in ordinary blue ink, it is true; if it is written in red ink, it is false.” After a month, his friends get the first letter written in blue ink: “Everything is wonderful here: stores are full, food is abundant, apartments are large and properly heated, movie theatres show films from the West, there are many beautiful girls ready for an affair—the only thing unavailable is red ink.” And is this not our situation till now? We have all the freedoms one wants—the only thing missing is the red ink: we feel free because we lack the very language to articulate our unfreedom. What this lack of red ink means is that, today, all the main terms we use to designate the present conflict—’war on terror,’ “democracy and freedom,’ ‘human rights,’ etc—are FALSE terms, mystifying our perception of the situation instead of allowing us to think it. You, here, you are giving to all of us red ink.”—
About half the Atlanta occupation in Woodruff Park was composed of homeless mostly black men who had been in the park on a daily basis before the occupation. When the mostly white occupiers brought tents and food in, some of the homeless got tents too, and were able to use the portable toilets. The homeless men were fed along with the occupiers, and took part in daily marches to banks, the scenes of police shootings and other activities. Though significant tensions existed within and among the occupiers, homeless and not, the two were beginning to learn how to work together. Headquarters of the occupation, according to some of its leaders, may be moving to the Peachtree-Pine shelter complex at the edge of downtown. In contrast to cities where the mostly white occupations have utterly failed to connect with the ongoing struggles of local residents, Atlanta’s occupiers are being driven into the arms of the homeless community. The next version of Occupy Atlanta will be even less to the liking of city officials and business leaders.
“Republicans moralizing about deficits. That’s like an arsonist moralizing about fire safety. These guys have zero credibility.”—Vice President Joe Biden • Turning up the funny at a speech to Florida Democrats at Walt Disney World on Saturday afternoon. source (via • follow)
I’ve been thinking about this again, in light of the undeniable militarization of police and Oakland’s inexcusable use of teargas and rubber bullets:
This is what our tools, especially our guns, have granted us. They have lowered the bar for killing, the requirements as well as the risks of attack. They allow the weak and cowardly, not only the strong, the chance to fight to the death and succeed.
This is true as well for so-called “non-lethal” weapons. The gun changes the natural order of violence; it encourages cockiness and aggression by allowing remoteness; it dissociates a man from the result of his actions.
“A betrayal of American values occurred last night in Oakland, California, when police fired tear gas on those peaceful demonstrators… Is this not the very thing that we condemn around the world? How dare we denounce an action when committed abroad, but yet remain silent when it happens in our own backyard?”—Rep. Bobby Rush from the House Floor (via quickhits)
“I agree with their statement, but it is time to move on. The trees are in the process of being impacted. The grass is being impacted.”—
LA Councilman Bill Rosendahl
Local government priorities, in a nutshell.
A nice lawn, or a right to peaceably assemble for a redress of grievances… I guess it’s simply a matter of opinion which is most important. It’s pretty clear where most American (and others, such as Melbourne) municipal governments stand on this issue. Only Albany, NY, seems to be bucking the trend, but not because of their elected officials.
This is a very critical urban issue. Planners and Architects should be very focused on what is happening here, and should take stock of where they stand on these issues.
The statement reminds me of a panel I once attended in Philadelphia, where an elderly Edmund Bacon stood up, decrying the upcoming revision of his plan for Independence Mall, and shouted, “I mourn for the loss of those trees!”
Sadly, I don’t recall which principal from Bohlin Cywinski Jackson replied, “I mourn for the loss of the neigborhood you destroyed to plant them.”
(Click through to BCJ’s design. It returned some human scale to the mall, though it could never replace the neighborhood streets that Ben Franklin once walked.)
“Amendment 1: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”—
It almost seems quaint to read it now, doesn’t it? How long has it even been since that last bit mattered?
We had the GOP’s “Free Speech Zones” starting in 2000, but long before that we had laws passed to block sit-ins, laws passed to prevent gangs gathering, laws passed to keep people out of parks at night, all of which are being used now to break up protests. Congress didn’t pass them all, many came from states, cities, and small towns, all with their own varying purposes.
When we give up our Constitutional rights, they cease to matter. Have the last lines of the First Amendment simply atrophied from lack of use? Can they be reclaimed? The Constitution is supposed to trump laws, always, but interpretations are made with the understanding of how citizens (and judges themselves) come to view these words, despite the claims of so-called “originalists.”
Further, when our courts agree with the results of the laws, they are likely to side with them instead. Don’t believe it? See Bush v Gore. an embarrassing legal judgment for a desired outcome. The court has only gotten worse since.
The point being: we have a massive police force in America that outside of lower Manhattan prosecutes crime and imprisons citizens with record-setting, factory-level efficiency, eclipsing the incarceration rates of most of history’s more notorious police states and communist countries.
But the bankers on Wall Street don’t live in that heavily-policed country. There are maybe 1000 SEC agents policing that sector of the economy, plus a handful of FBI agents. There are nearly that many police officers stationed around the polite crowd at Zucotti park.
These inequities are what drive the OWS protests. People don’t want handouts. It’s not a class uprising and they don’t want civil war — they want just the opposite. They want everyone to live in the same country, and live by the same rules. It’s amazing that some people think that that’s asking a lot.
“When people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.”—
"Man can never have enough knowledge to explain the universe, and all of those answers are not intended to be found in the Bible. Do we need the Bible to show us the beauty of a flower, the elaborate dance of bees, the phases of the moon? Of course not, these things are here in our world for our observation, for us to learn about on our own.
Belief in the infallibility of man’s language and in culture’s memory, diminishes the meaning of the book and its stories. Leaving nothing for discovery or for understanding puts mankind on a pedestal, as if we could have perfect understanding. That perfect understanding requires us to be perfect as well, and we are not. We are both less and more than that.”