Niven’s Law: The Universe doesn’t care if you’re having fun
Well, as expected, I managed to thoroughly piss off a number of you with the previous Occupy Wall Street post.
As a result, some readers won’t be back.
Sorry about that.
Don’t get me wrong here, it does bother me to lose regular readers, however if we all agreed on everything all the time, well, we wouldn’t be the people we are, would we?
Now, because I would like to keep most of you around, at least those of you without personal hygiene issues, I’m faced with a decision every time I push the publish button, to wit: I can either keep doing what I’m doing, or start writing fluffy cotton candy bunny posts solely in order to blow rainbow flavored smoke up your ass.
I hate losing you, but you should know right up front that I’m unlikely to choose the later opinion.
See, while I do care what you think, I write for myself first.
I’d write Stonekettle Station exactly the way I do now even if ShopKat and I were the only ones reading it. If I was writing for you, I’d charge you more. If I wrote to attract readers and sell page counts, well, I’d write porn.
That doesn’t mean that I go out of my way to offend you.
For what it’s worth, it wasn’t intentional.
And I did warn you first.
It’s too bad you’re leaving, we were just going to open a bottle of 1608 and go out on the patio to soak in the hot tub with the naked cast of … ah, never mind, you’re not interested in that. If you gotta go, you gotta go. I understand.
For those that do choose to stick around however, a couple of things:
First, thank you, Pissed Off Regular Readers. Thanks for being reasonably polite in your comments and correspondence despite being unhappy with the post. I’ve been accused of cultivating sycophants in the comments section, thank you for loudly disagreeing with me. (Hah! Sycophants? In your face! And you know who you are. pthffffft!)
Second, thank you, Shiny New People, for actually reading the commenting rules. And in fact you’ve managed to drive this week’s hit count on the rules page to an all time high. It would have been cool if that huge green spike on the page load graph had been on, you know, an actual article and not the crummy old rules page, but, hey, hit count is hit count. Now if I could just get somebody to pay me for it.
Third, thank you, Warty Skinned Troll People, for continuing to send me finely crafted hate mail. It’s cold here in Alaska, and your burning dislike warms the cockles of my flinty black heart. In return, and as long as you already think I’m a condescending prick, allow me to offer this helpful tip: You can choose not to be offended. You can. Or not. But deciding not to be offended does wonders for clarity of thought – not to mention your blood pressure and spelling ability. Just saying.
That said, some clarification to the previous post is obviously in order:
- I never said that Occupiers are stupid or should go home.You may have read it that way, but that’s not what I said. In fact I said just the opposite. Here’s the quote (note the underlined part):
So what am I saying? Occupy Wall Street is stupid and futile and everybody should just go home? No, not at all.
- I never intended to insult Occupiers by comparing them to Tea Partiers, that was an unexpected bonus. If it’s any consolation, the Tea Partiers who wrote to me were massively insulted by being compared to you. Not to be a dick or anything, but that’s something else you both have in common.
- I’m not going to apologize for being a capitalist. I’ve already explained why and, really, at this point I should be charging you for it.
- Yes, I understand that there may, may, be reason to believe there are agents provocateur inciting the OWS crowd to violence. Then again, there may not be. So what? When the agitator says, hey let’s go light some shit on fire – you have the option of saying no. Hell no. You also have the option of sitting on the son of a bitch until the police show up.
Here’s the thing: since you can’t see my email, look at the comments under the Occupy post. Take them as a whole. Now, go read the comments on the various Occupy websites, and the ones under the numerous news articles. And the ones on the Twitter feeds. And the ones on Facebook. Read them objectively, without emotion. Look at them as an intelligence analyst would. Look at them as data.
Taken in the aggregate, what do you see?
Tell you what I see:
1) The violence, it wasn’t us. It was caused by a) a few bad apples, or b) agents provocateur.
2) besides, you have to light shit on fire and break some windows to get the Man’s attention.
See the logical fallacy?
You don’t have to look very hard to see those two reoccurring themes - often they appear in the same comment, sometimes in the same sentence. If you agree with the violence, then the agitator isn’t really an agent provocateur is he? He’s actually one of you.
Either you endorse violence, or you don’t. Make up your damned mind.
- Now, a number of you, including my most excellent friend, the sissy pacifist socialist liberal, Eric, do seem to believe that in certain cases violence against the machine is a justifiable method of getting the Man’s attention. Albeit reluctantly. A number of you pointed out where that exact method worked to force change. You are correct.
Eric did an eloquent job of describing precisely why I’m wrong to deplore violent protest over on his own blog, Standing On The Shoulders Of Giant Midgets (and on a related note, if you’re not reading Giant Midgets, you’re missing out. Seriously. Go there right now. You can thank me later).
Would it surprise you that I agree?
I do think that there is a time and place for violent protest, and even violent revolution. I do think that in some cases, violent protest is the only option left to a people – and I’ve written sympathetically about some of those violent revolutions right here on Stonekettle Station, as recently as last week.
I can even see the conditions that would drive me to join in.
We. Are. Not. Anywhere. Close. To. That.
You’ll be hard pressed to convince me that lighting shit on fire, smashing out bank windows, and breaking into buildings is in any way justified at the moment. You’re welcome to try. Give me a list of all the alternatives short of violence you have actually tried and an objective and reasoned justification for the violence and vandalism that has occurred so far. Please try to avoid the logical fallacy described in the previous paragraph and/or the street gang logic of “They dissed us, now we’re gonna bust some heads.”
Some of you took exception to being compared to the Tea Party. You’re the same folks who deplored the Tea Party’s talk of armed overthrow and secession and revolution. You’re not seriously going to try and tell me that your talk of revolution and their talk of revolution are different just because they talk about Second Amendment solutions and you talk about throwing Molotov cocktails, are you?
Then again, not to be a dick or anything, there’s yet another thing certain extreme members of both sides seem to have in common. Just saying.
- I do think that protest has its place in the daily maintenance of democracy. Peaceful protest.
There’s an old adage about training a dog that goes something like: It is never, ever, necessary to hit a dog – but sometimes you’ve got to rap that bone-headed son of a bitch across the nose to get its attention. That’s exactly why the Framers put the right to peacefully assemble into the Constitution.
End government corruption. End runaway greed. Those are the basic messages of OWS, yes?
Those are things that every single American can get behind. End government corruption, end corporate greed (or at least put some limits on it). We can all agree to those basic ideals (well all of us except for corrupt politicians and greedy bankers but that’s just a quibble). Left, right, conservative, liberal, OWS, Tea Party, black, white, brown, red, yellow, Jew, Christian, Muslim, Atheist, East Coast, Left Coast, Mid Westerner, meat eaters and Tofu twiddlers – we, all of us, can agree to that. End government corruption, end the greed that tanked our economy and screwed us all.
So how come we don’t all agree?
Look, let me give you another example: Be kind to animals. Most of us can agree to that, yes? Be kind to animals. Hell, even folks who eat meat and hunt can agree, in principle, to that, be kind to animals even if we don’t agree on exactly what “kind” means.
Here’s another example: Don’t shit in your food supply. Anybody object to that idea? Don’t shit in your food supply.
So why, when some Green Peace Nazi calls me a murderer and screams her bean sprout scented breath in my face to give up my gas guzzling truck, do I have the overpowering urge to go home and fill my gas tank with the rendered fat of little fluffy harp seals and eat a steak carved from the tenderloin of an endangered baby polar bear?
Ask yourself this, why do so many people just goddamned hate those PETA people? Or the folks from Green Peace? After all, most of us agree with their basic ideals, be kind to animals, don’t shit in the food supply.
Answer that question, and then do something about it, and Occupy Wall Street will actually change things.
You light shit on fire, you smash windows, you throw rocks at the cops and get yourself arrested and you’re not the 99%. Because 98.9% of us don’t agree with your methods – including the unionized cops who might be on your side if you’d rethink your strategy.
If you really were 99% of the country, you wouldn’t need to light shit on fire to change things.
So, figure out how to get 99% of your fellow citizens on your side. Hint, lighting their property on fire isn’t it.
- Finally I asked you to do some research. Up above I asked you to go read the comments on the previous post. I asked you to read the comments on the OWS sites and under the OWS news articles. I asked you to check social media sites. I asked you to look at that information objectively, without emotion, as data.
I asked you to filter it for commonalities.
What did you find?
What is the one single unifying thread that ties it all together (and incidentally, is also yet another point of congruency with the Tea Party)?
Did you see it?
I liked @andrewwnygard’s comment best:
Seriously? Go out and vote?
A stunning majority of you seem to have an astounding level of contempt for the basic institution of democracy.
An overwhelming majority of you seem to feel that, for various reasons, your vote doesn’t matter, that voting will not and cannot change anything.
Niven’s law: No technique works if it’s not used.
You cannot say that voting doesn’t work if you don’t vote.
You cannot say that the system is broken if you don’t use the system.
A lot of you said that you do vote and I’ll take you at your word, but it’s a good bet that some of you are fibbing because the simple truth of the matter is that a lot of Americans don’t.
In no election since 1944, have more than 65% of eligible Americans actually voted in presidential elections, and more often than not it’s closer to 45% – though 100% bitch about the results – and it’s even more dismal in the primaries where the actual candidates are chosen. Want to know who the worst ones are? Young people, liberals, the very same people out in the street with OWS smashing windows right now. They’ll rally and they’ll sing and they’ll shout, but they won’t go vote.
It was the same thing in the 60’s. The raggedy assed hippies would hold love-in’s and sit-in’s and anti-war rallies, they’d shout and sing Kumbaya and hand out flowers – and then on election day they’d all go get stoned, tune-in, and drop out. I’m not saying they didn’t effect certain changes in our society, but Nixon was the president and nobody remembers McGovern and we’re sure as hell not living in the Age of Aquarius now are we? And the really, really ironic part is that an overwhelming majority of those hippies are now conservatives. Why? Because if you really want to effect change, you have to be part of the system.
One hell of a lot of you have allowed yourselves to fall into voter apathy. One hell of a lot of you have declared that you won’t vote in the upcoming presidential election – for whatever reason.
No technique works if it isn’t used.
If you really are the 99% and you all vote, then it won’t matter if some of your votes aren’t counted and some of your chads dangle– you’ll still win. You damned well did in 2008 despite one hell of a stiff opposition. And don’t give me the standard canard about the Koch Brothers either, you’ve got billionaire movers and shakers of your own, stop lighting their shit on fire and maybe they’ll help you out.
I keep coming back to the Tea Party for a reason – in the last election they got themselves organized, they knocked on doors, they made phone calls, hell, they bought themselves a robo-dialer and they used that sucker, they handed out flyers and petitions and buttons and email. They used social networking and the internet – and some of those tri-corner hat wearing blue haired old geezers had never sent an email before in their lives, but they damned well learned how and spammed every inbox they could reach. They were in front of every Wal-Mart and Target and in the malls and their front yards were full of campaign signs. They lost a few, but they won the House and the Congressional Tea Party caucus is shaking up the halls of power right now. They are half the Republican presidential candidate line-up and you can damned well see even old Mitt Romney kissing their wrinkly gray asses. I don’t agree with most of what they’re doing, but there they are nonetheless. And they’re there because they got more votes than you did. And they got more votes than you did because you stayed the fuck home.
No technique works if it isn’t used.
Your franchise, your vote, is the very foundation of our republic.
Your vote is the core, the very heart, of the country and the people that are the United States of America.
Your vote is the very source of freedom, of liberty, and of democracy.
It’s not guns, it’s not the right of assembly, it’s not freedom of speech, it’s not religion or lack there of – those things only ensure the right to vote. That’s why those things came later, in the Bill of Rights and the other amendments that gave the right to vote to all Americans. The right to vote itself was enshrined in the Constitution from the beginning.
The only thing, the only thing, that makes this a country of the people, by the people, and for the people is your vote.
That’s the one right that must be protected at all costs – or America is no longer America.
Now here’s the thing, so pay attention: If you really, really, believe that the system is broken, if you really think that your vote has been stolen, then why isn’t that Occupy Wall Street’s number one message?
Instead of “Death to Capitalism” and “End the Fed” why isn’t “My Vote Goddamned Well Matters!” on those banners in Oakland? Why do you have this bullshit about ending the Fed or dumping the free market on your banners?Those things aren't what you're mad about. Fix the voting system, get people to exercise their franchise and actually elect candidates who are beholden to the people and not corporate interests and those things will fix themselves. Ending the Fed isn't going to give you a voice in your government. And for Goddamned certain dumping capitalism for fucking Marxism sure as hell won't.
If you truly believe that the voting system is broken, then that should be the number one item on the OWS agenda. That should be the clear and unambiguous message of the movement.
You need an agenda that 99% of America can get behind? Start there.
Everything else follows.
And have some faith in the United States of America.