Apparently pepper spray excites more than just the face.
Does this person have any neck muscles??
Punky Brewster's sinister radical side.
Non-American protest aesthetics:
Alternative use for red flags.
WarNerd says it's the less bright kid that gets abandoned by his friends without knowing it in these situations. But I don't think that is the case here. I'm sticking with the opinion that this kid is just plain old bad ass. That or he had something he really didn't want to admit in a game of truth or dare.
Not in need of comment.
OK, sure. The above is a bit of a simplistic contrast, but the culture and mass psychology of American protesting do seem to breed the whining of whiners. I now have seen dozens of photos of police arresting Occupy protesters which used the word "brutal" in the description (I'm not talking about the pepper spray photos here). In a minority of these photos the police were being mean, using more force than necessary for compliance, and so forth, but in none of them were they being brutal. When going to a direct action which involves meeting police, one has to expect that the use of police force is a possibility. One might then muster some fortitude and some, ahem, fight. But instead, in American protesting circles, the cult of the victim is brought out and deified.
The game is something like NBA basketball - as soon as you barely get touched you fall over and scream "FOUL!!!" In this case the refs are the American public. And in a certain sense this game works - the Occupy movements went from obscurity to national attention in part because of the stupidity of police forces in using unneeded levels of force. But, I'm not sure what I think of this game's potential longterm benefits to the working classes.
I, for one, think this endemic of protesters claiming to be the oppressed and then moaning "you're hurting me, stop it, stop it" when touched by a police officer is actually counterproductive in a class war, in the long run anyway. [Of course, the Occupy protests are perhaps not in any meaningful sense acts of class war - they might be pre-class war; plenty on the left hope they develop into class war; but thus far it remains to be seen what comes of them.] The point of protests is to empower the working classes. The point is to confront capital with the the belief that the working class has within its power the ability to destroy the shackles of wage slavery. Look at the labor actions from 1877 to the 1930s which inspired workers across the country. The overwhelming aesthetic of the labor martyrs and famous strikers was the image of men and women who were solid, fierce, and essentially saying - "go ahead, beat me, kill me, you will only make us stronger in doing so - you pathetic dirty bastards." Even when that wasn't the case (and it surely wasn't always the case) - that was the image American labor sought to promote of itself to its members. Those were labor strugglers reared on narratives like that of Joe Hill, who told his supporters when his execution was imminent "Don't mourn! Organize!" and when facing his firing squad, yelled out the piss and vinegar command "fire!" as his last word. Now we in the American left are being taught to intuit that a pepper sprayed pertly nippled hipstress screaming and writhing in pain, the perfect victim, is the apotheosis of class war suffering. Good grief.
One can hardly hope for things being much better on the local front with training sessions like this in the works (multiple times in the next week, and promoted as "free" in the local Occupy circles - like, uh, seriously, who pays cash money to be told how not to hit someone and to chant "peace!, peace!, peace!" with the crowd when someone is getting worked up??). And then this dismal bit of hipster religion, promoted on the local Occupy FB page to "help us prepare." The next thing they asked us to read was a chart explaining the Quaker decision making process. Whew.
Thinking of Rep. John Lewis not being able to speak at the Occupy Atlanta because he didn't have time to wait for the consensus procedure to get to him at the Atlanta general assembly. Lewis was very gracious about it, saying he knew and understood such processes, having come up in SNCC. This got me to thinking that in SNCC part of the reason for radical egalitarian procedures was that you had a lot of blacks and whites working together who didn't have much experience in decision making processes which involved racial diversity. In other words - the radical egalitarianism was itself focused on a specific social pathology - that being whites used to telling blacks what to do, or at least having been raised with the intuition that blacks need whites to tell them what to do. Given that history, there is something of an irony when a similar egalitarian process ends up keeping a black civil rights and protest elder from being able to speak.
I recently read an account (I now can't find the link) of the night the police looked like they were going to break up Occupy Atlanta protesters at Troy Davis Park, but then ended up not doing that. It was a very well written post and in it the writer reflected on the "baby steps" that have to occur in the development of protest psychology. In spite of all I have written above, there is some hope for that coming out of the Occupy movements. It is generally a good thing when protesters get arrested together. It radicalizes them and increases solidarity. This writer was talking about how a number of the people prepared to get arrested in Atlanta were not "professional protesters" but people who had little or no protest experience and a month ago would not have dreamed of getting arrested in a political protest. To the extent that the Occupy movements increase the number of people who fall into the camp of those initiated into the mass will to confront capitalist power, I'm all for it. I just hope they move from the aesthetic of whining to the aesthetic of fist somewhere along the way. In a non-Occupy related protest this week some Milwaukee Ironworker's union friends of mine were arrested protesting the refusal of a local Rep to vote for the Jobs bill. Whatever one thinks of the usefulness of such a protest, it did result in a widespread display of solidarity and support among the ironworkers, and is the sort of thing (not sanctioned by union leadership, of course) that helps radicalize the rank and file of that union. We need more of that.
So, ironically, I support the Occupy movements in theory (and in practice, as I prepare to go when they get started here in Memphis), but I also hope that the police come down somewhat hard on them and that there are a plethora of arrests. Facing choreographed police action builds solidarity, and demands some organized discipline among protesters. Such group experiences breed radicals. Fine and well then.