Mid-week….made it to Wednesday. LOL
This morning’s coffe-kvatch was fun and somewhat interesting. Instead of the typical political BS that drones on and on — two of the folks at the table brought a new friend to the gathering this morning. A (not going to use her first name here) is one of the Denton Occupy protestors — except that they are currently taking a break while UNT tries to figure out a potential new location for them. A is an interesting mix of an individual. She’s clean, somewhat conservative in her dress (hard to be really wild in your clothing choices when its raining outside though), she doesn’t smoke, she’s extremely demure in personality, and quite a quiet speaker.
Now, I have quite a few friends at the Denton Occupy protest as well – and I’m aware of who A is — though she doesn’t run in the same crowds that I do. The folks I know at the Protest are male (except for two of them) – and wild, unkempt individuals with abrasive and brash personalities. These guys are about the closest thing I can relate to mud-men…LOL
Oh there is one other difference between them and A as well — and its an important difference. She was there when the protest started at UNT. In fact, the protest had been going on for less than an hour when she arrived there for the first time and joined in. The guys that I know there didn’t join the Occupy folks until about a week ago. And that difference is a significant one.
See, my experience thus far, has been the people that have been there since the beginning or somewhere close to it – are quite articulate and intelligent about exactly why they are there and just what they are protesting against. The “johnny-come-lately” crowd seems more interested in finding an all-night place to party and groove without constabulary interference. Sad to say that — but its quite true.
Spending a good chunk of this morning talking with A, I’m quite pleased with the choices she’s made concerning all of this. As a student at the school, her concern is over the power of her education versus the dollar figure she pays (out of pocket by the way) for that education. Her primary issue in the protest is over the value of her education. Her choice to protest was her way of venting her frustration and letting her voice be heard. And while I disagree with her at a certain point – I can see the validity in what’s she’s doing. Its very similar to the Freedom of Speech movement that took place at Berkeley. She simply wants her message to be heard and understood — and when possible some kind of action to take place concerning it.
I’ve heard many folks state that the Occupy movement is a lot like the Tea Party or that its similar to the Free Speech movement at Berkeley. The honest truth is that its neither. Its the Occupy movement. As a protest movement, it shares that particular facet with both the Tea Party and Free Speech movements. But it stops there. The Tea Party movement is exactly what it was. The Free Speech movement is exactly what it was. Just as the Occupy movement is exactly what it is. Once the ideals of the particular protest movement is reached – the similarities with other movements is left behind and it becomes a unique body of principles and concepts.
Similarly, I’ve seen the absolutely stupid and inane eMail and Internet postings talking about the differences between the Tea Party’s supposed civility versus the supposed violent activities that have occurred within the Occupy movement. Such postings do nothing more than expose an individual’s lack of ability in understanding the wide variances between the populations of each particular movement. The violence, rapes and drugs for the Occupy movement were not there in the very beginnings – when certain folks understood the protective measures that each Occupy encampment had been afforded by local law enforcement and local politicians, they saw an area that was a free zone for dubious activity to take place. In all honesty, its resemblance to actual society was far closer than that of the Tea Party – which was centered on a far different activity.
In the end, differences and similarities between every political and social protest movement can be compared and contrasted (and likely will) until the proverbial end of time. But that comparison and contrast isn’t going to provide answers to what’s taking place. The Occupy movement, much like the Tea Party and the Free Speech movements, has been born out of a contextual measure of frustration. That frustration has taken hold and provided a moment where individuals have utilized their freedom of expression to vent their concerns.
Unfortunately, their particular points are now being drowned out by a media-machine that is intent on reporting the outrageous and border-line obscene. These images are the ones that make the front pages of the papers. The stories of the violence and drugs take center-stage in the stories, instead of reporting the issues that sparked these protests in the first place. This thoughtless reporting is what takes center-stage and is mindlessly repeated – and the issues that started all of this are swept along as an after-thought. That feeds into the frustration of those trying to make a point — and eventually will lead to one particular perspective: the more outrageous we make ourselves, the better chance we will have of getting our issues into the forefront of the stories and thus make our points heard. In the end, the outrageous behaviors will become the story – and the points that are trying to be made in conjunction with those behaviors will again be swept aside…leading to more frustration.
….and what a shame. Thanks to an endless cycle perpetuated by a media-machine that is more inclined to worry about flagging paper sales versus online content delivery – a singular message of frustration bred from high unemployment, soaring education costs – will be lost. And an entire upcoming generation will be branded as slouchers and whiners – and spend most of their early adult lives trying to throw off that mantle. Much like the Hippies of an earlier time frame had to struggle against the same misconceptions for much the same reasons. …and people wonder what I mean when I say “no one is listening anymore.”