The Brilliance/Pointlessness of Occupying Wall Street, and other short notes

Occupy Wall Street is starting its third week and I still don’t know what to think. By not putting out a list of demands, it is challenging Americans’ whole notion of what a protest is. This is either brilliant or pointless. Let me think about it some more.

In the meantime, here are some links to help you make up your own mind: The original call to protest is hereMatt Stoller describes OWS as “a church of dissent, not a protest”. Nicholas Kristof provides his own set of demands. Pruning Shears thinks the act of occupying Wall Street says enough by itself: “We object to what has gone on here; we do not agree with it and do not support it; we want it to change.”

But the Mahablog is having none of that: “If you don’t have a clear message attached to an actual call to action, then it’s just protest theater. The dilettantes will make some noise for a while and go home, and nothing will change.”

Continuing the poor-poor-bigots theme from last week: AlterNet debunks another religious-right claim of oppression at the hands of the gay agenda.

Of course, Frank Turek’s Constitutional right to say and write what he pleases is in no danger – there are no thought police after him. But Gallagher apparently wants him to enjoy an additional “special right” that appears nowhere in any Constitution: the right not only to say offensive things, but to do so without others taking offense.

The majority often forgets what majority privilege means: You get used to the idea that your opinions are not controversial, so you assume there is no price to be paid for expressing them whenever and however you want.

If the minority starts speaking up, though, your views become controversial, and then controversy-shunning business clients start shunning you. Suddenly you have to watch your tongue like everybody else does. It feels like oppression, but really it’s just the loss of a special privilege.

Diebold voting machines are even worse than we thought: If you have access to the machines long enough to slip a cheap gadget inside, the gadget’s remote control can change votes as they are cast. Removing the gadget afterwards hides the hack. The machine’s total is what it is and there are no ballots to recount.

These vulnerable machines, Salon says, are used by “as many as a quarter of American voters”. Funny that all the Republicans worried about the kind of vote fraud that never happens aren’t interested in this.

New figures are out on amenable mortality (deaths preventable by health care). The U.S. still ranks last among wealthy nations. Basically, 85,000 Americans died last year because they weren’t French.

Think about the furor over less than 3,000 deaths on 9-11 or 5,000 American deaths in Iraq since 2003. Combine them, add a zero, and you still don’t equal the number who die every year from the inadequacy of our healthcare system.

Cut that wasteful government spending: Texas no longer serves a special last meal to inmates about to be executed. And a Montana Senate candidate is worried about families defrauding the school lunch program.

Your biases are part of all your instinctive decisions. Example: White umpires squeeze the strike zone on black pitchers. Intentionally? Probably not.

Constitution? What constitution? An Alabama town gives low-level offenders a choice between jail and attending church for a year. So far all the churches in the program are Christian.

It’s not class warfare, Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite argues, it’s Christianity.

The Christian magazine Relevant publishes a refreshingly frank and realistic article: Just-say-no abstinence isn’t working even for young-adult Christians. Now what?

And because I’ve been way too relentlessly serious this week, a moment of cute:

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  • Nancy  On October 3, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    We need to scare the bejeebies out of Wall Street. The 98-99% of people who can’t afford to buy representation should withdraw their money from the large corporate banks and put it in a local bank or credit union. I think October 29 would be a good date.

  • ramseyman  On October 4, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    I gave some serious consideration to attending the Wall Street event. Then I looked at the videos shot by protesters and was appalled by the confusion and hopelessness of it all. Also, there’s that classic shot of the Wall Streeters on their balconies waving their champagne flutes and laughing. So, I tend to doubt that this is accomplishing anything, although it might turn into something significant if more responsible leaders get involved.


  • By Changing the System « The Weekly Sift on October 3, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    […] The Brilliance/Pointlessness of Occupying Wall Street, and other short notes. Does it make sense to have a protest movement but no demands? More poor, poor bigots. You still don’t know how bad paperless voting machines are. 85K Americans died last year because they weren’t French. Christians face the failure of abstinence. Plus more depressing stuff, leading to baby pandas. Because who doesn’t like baby pandas? […]

  • By Public Shamelessness « The Weekly Sift on October 10, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    […] post. It was a slow week. For the second week in a row, the short notes were the top new post. The Brilliance/Pointlessness of Occupying Wall Street and other short notes garnered 127 views. Meanwhile, Six True Things Politicians Can’t Say (from September 19) got […]

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