Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Protest

I looked up at the TV bolted to the wall above my head.  A scraggly collection of protesters marched across a main roadway that serves as a key point in and out of Cleveland.  They had decided to protest by dubiously linking a recent tragic shooting of a 12 year old boy locally by police with the snowball out of control situation in Ferguson.   The protesters were predominantly young adults, clearly excited about the media event they were creating.  Nothing gets the blood racing faster for an upper middle class suburban college kid than playing rabble rouser for social justice.  Like their parents before them, they are dabbling in far left liberalism before the world beats them back to their comfortable and predictable suburban enclaves.  But for today, a triumph!

I looked up at the TV and immediately got pissed off.  Not because I disagreed with the protest necessarily, but more for the upcoming disruption of my evening commute.  It dawned on me immediately that I had become one of those cranky crew cut union guys that are always shown on documentaries on 1960s protests.  Really, all I needed to do was grumble about how “those hippies needed to shave off their beards and get a goddamn job”.  I have totally abandoned all expectations of being able to alter society and now am most interested in limiting my own personal inconveniences.  “Yes, it is a damn shame that the young boy was shot in the face, but do we really need to stop traffic?  I had expected to get home in time for World News Tonight and a nice glass of Cote du Nuits.  The police simply must do something.”

It is an odd moment when the light shines down on you and the realization hits that you are part of “the problem” and not “the solution”.  I have lost all will to fight an idealistic fight.  I also have no faith in the ability for the group I saw on TV to effect change.  The key to taking part in a protest like that is to completely embrace the world as a place without gray areas.  I lost that ability years ago.  Anyone that has spent even a few minutes in the real world understands that not all police are assholes and it is not a systematic policy to brutalize any specific group of citizens.  Only a group of college kids can be so naïve to forget that the reason that the cops are so hardcore in these areas is that some real scary shitbags live there that only understand brute force.  Are there officers that go crazy and act like goons?  Hell yeah.  I don’t agree with that, but I understand it.  I don’t have to worry about someone shooting me when I show up at a gig (although I have provided some performances that may have merited a shooting afterwards).  If I did, I’d be pretty trigger happy too.  Hey, it sucks, but that’s the way it is.  I have no idea how to fix it, and neither do you.

After I got over the initial crankiness of the traffic fiasco, I watched the police watch the protesters who watched the police.  About 75 protesters were being recorded by 75 members of the media.   I was especially taken by a young man with a beard, army fatigue jacket, and a bullhorn that was making sure he was in every TV shot.  I think he had a big night ahead of him back at his college housing where the participants would breathlessly recap what had happened to each other just like they had a few years earlier after an incident at a high school dance.  “Jeremy!  You were so brave when that cop waved his baton at you!”  Jeremy moves in close to the wide eyed Kayla, who is seeing “the real Jeremy” for the first time.  “Maybe you should come back with me to my room to look at the fliers I have been designing.  We are going to pass them out at the Quad tomorrow.  We have A LOT OF WORK LEFT TO DO…”  Kayla, caught up in the sheer weight of the event earlier this afternoon quietly disappears with Jeremy back to his room for a “strategy session”.  A star has been born. 

In a couple of days everything will go back to the way it has been.  That’s the way it has always gone.  Maybe I am just being cynical and the riots in the Summer of ‘68 solved everything.  Or maybe the Rodney King riots fixed the dissatisfaction with the LAPD.  I don’t really remember.  What I can guarantee is that these particular demonstrations will go away.  Winter is on the way, and people can only stay fired up for so long.  “Hey man, I know that the cops are pigs and everything, but it’s 22 degrees out there.  I totally forgot my gloves.  I mean, I’m down with the cause and all.  Maybe we should send out a really strongly worded email instead?”

Hopefully the police stop killing people, and people stop doing things that make police come flying towards them with guns in the first place.  I want the people I love and care for to be safe.  For now I am relegating myself to join the massive herd that is watching all this on television like a new reality show, and reading all the fiery rhetoric from so called civic leaders on both sides of the fence.  It is great that we live in a country where a protest can be held.  However, don’t fuck with my commute…  Goddamn hippies…         

P.S.  I just saw the video released in the Cleveland shooting.  That's not exactly the way the police described it, is it?  Damn.  Now I have to go join a protest and screw up someone's commute... 


At November 29, 2014 at 3:36:00 PM EST , Blogger Bobdontgiveaf#ck said...

Good post. I really wanna go with "to live outside the law you must be honest" here, but Bob Dylan never lived at 55th and Scovill so f*ck it. I'll save ya a seat at Kelsey's..........


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