We’re Not the Tea Party—We’re the Coffee Klatsch from Hell!
This past Thursday, I read that Republicans in 16 states are trying to pass laws that will restrict our ability to protest.
What’s so special suddenly? One of the arguments against the recent Women’s Marches is that many do not have leaders.
OMG! Amazingly we women can get together spontaneously without someone telling us what to do. We don’t need generals because we aren’t playing Army. We don’t need “man-’splainers” to figure out what’s going on. We are concerned enough that we can organize and still be respectful enough to stick to the sidewalk. But don’t think we aren’t angry. If you must categorize us, think of us as the coffee klatsch from Hell.
Here’s the LINK.
The Tea Party developed candidates, but they did not necessarily start with recognizable leaders. The Occupy movement was not only leaderless but it had a multifaceted agenda that included issues such as economic inequality, addressing climate change, and preserving democracy itself.
This apparent lack of cohesion was one of the criticisms leveled at the Occupiers, but surely it was one of their strengths that people with different starting points might get together and talk a few things over. Instead, the powers that be were frightened and now are even more so. The proposed laws include requirements that marchers should have permits and set routes, even if no street closings are required. This, of course, implies a need for someone in charge, a name, a contact person—heads to chop off, designated bodies to drag to jail. So far, my local Women’s March has no equivalent of Dr. King, no Malcolm X, and no Harvey Milk. Girls just don’t wanna get assassinated.
The argument for legislation is being made around public safety but with interesting exceptions. Some states are ready to allow drivers to run over protesters simply because they’re in the street, or, run into someone even when they’re guiding people across the road but not actually part of the protest itself. That’s not a helpful addition to the Highway Code, this is about something else.
Then there are to be rules about wearing masks. Yes, there have been violent protests. Yes, some of the anarchists have worn masks, others too. No, I don’t like it, I think you should own what you do and a mask is certainly not that. But one’s right to wear a presidential mask (Nixon masks were a long-time favorite) as part of one’s protest must be preserved. A ski mask is about anonymity; a Trump mask is about mockery. And so onwards…the fine lines are always the most difficult to draw and define. Better to leave such things alone.
Because it’s not about masks, it’s about using “public safety” as a way to suppress the right to assembly, free speech, and a personal commitment to democracy. When you destroy property, punch someone, or commit a violent act against a police officer, there are laws and consequences already in place.
Another argument for these new laws is couched as fiscal conservatism. So many protesters, so few police. Donald Trump is running up immense taxpayer-subsidized police overtime bills in Palm Beach and Manhattan to preserve the whims of a private lifestyle he refuses to relinquish, and then there’s the rest of us—out every weekend when he’s down here in Florida, but also out in other states, protesting where they can. If our numbers are stretching police budgets, I can’t really apologize for that and don’t think we should have to. Democracy is not free. Freedom is not free. And yes, there are a lot of us—we are the Majority!
The last march I went to was in Palm Beach, on February 4th. Neither we nor the Trump supporters standing outside Mar-a-Lago had filed any paperwork or permits with the City because we planned to stick to the sidewalk—as we all did.
Speaking of permits, Florida is not an “open carry” state. That means it’s okay to openly have a loaded gun about your person if you are “engaged in… or going to and from Fishing, Hunting, and Camping,” but otherwise the state favors “concealed carry.” (This is a must read from just this week! It’s described HERE) But I did not see any cops speaking to or ticketing the man staring at us from across the street (four lanes and his own sidewalk away) who was standing on his lawn holding a shotgun. My first reaction on seeing him was to laugh—how absurd! I guess he was within his rights in that I have to assume it was his lawn, but if it wasn’t a threat it was definitely an over-heated warning.
So don’t bring a mask to a protest but you may bring a gun.