Intimidation for fun and profit
This past thursday, we had a visit from our local Protest Warrior chapter. It was alternately mind-bogglingly dumb and really really scary.
There are accounts of it in two seperate DailyKOS diary entries here and here, as well as in the blog of a fellow protester, Jonathan Gibson, here (scroll down to 'Protest Jammerz').
His signs were typically non-sequitir laden, including stunning attacks on such imagined enemies as 'communism' and 'the green party.' As effective as these atacks were, they would likely have been even more effective had the vigil been, say "Greens against Capitalism" or something. As it was, it fell a little flat. Still, points for downloading and printing premade signs and all that. I'm sure it was hella hard.
What none of the other accounts mention is the part where the Protest Warrior guy or one of his friends stopped his car in the middle of the street, and got out, blocking traffic and refusing to move. That was a little freaky.
What was freakier was his buddy wih the digital camera and the videocamera following us around taping everything we did. For a moment, I found myself a little worried and hesitant about continuing the protest. I mean, Jesus, if my image ends up on some psycho-right website, I'm really not that hard to find. It's a small town. Which, of course, is the point.
I believe that the videotaping part of the Protest Warrior methdology is as much about trying to bully protesters into stopping as it is about documenting their 'infiltrations' for posterity. What they're saying is "We know who you are. We have your photograph."
I have always believed that, as the saying goes, 'the solution to speech you dislike isn't censorship, but more speech," so on one level, I support the Protest Warrior's idea. I mean, I think the counterprotesters are dumbasses, but clearly they have a right to air their dumbass views. What they do not have a right to do is try to stop us from airing our views through intimidation, infiltration, or whatever they want to pretend it is. They're not trying to get a message across, they're trying to make sure we can't.
Therefore, I now get to the part where I beg all of my loyal readers who live anywhere near Benicia, California to please consider joining us at our peace vigil this thursday. It's at 5:00 in the afternoon at the intersection of Military and First, in front of the park. It's pretty easy to find, and I'll be glad to e-mail a map for anyone who's interested.
There's strength in numbers, folks, and right now, I feel like we need some strength.