Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Tale of Two Protests

It's a soldier's private funeral. Standing outside are members of an obnoxious little hate cult from Topeka, Kansas with signs that say "Thank God for Dead Soldiers." The police are out in force, but not to tell the tasteless protesters they should move along. They're out to protect the sign wavers. No one can lay a finger on them.

Now despite disagreeing vehemently with everything the Westboro Baptist Church stands for as well as their method of sharing it with the rest of us, I do believe they have the right to exercise their ugly, hateful speech freely in public places, and I would hate to live in a country where they could be violently intimidated. I'm glad that we can disagree with them, but tolerate them and even use our police to protect them from violence.

But just what can we say about a country whose same police are sent out not to protect Occupy protesters in Oakland, California, but to attack them? What can we say about a country that tolerates the use of its police in this manner? What can we say about a country that strives to the utmost to protect from violence some of its most hatefully intolerant citizens, but actually uses violence against peaceful protesters who dare to point out that the banking establishment is corrupt?

What can we say about such a country when the methods used by the police against these protesters-- including the use of chemical weapons-- are not even allowed in war zones against armed foreign enemies? Yet they're used against unarmed, peacefully protesting civilians in a park in Oakland?

I for one, am not generally sympathetic to the political views that seem to be coming from the majority of the Occupy protesters (though I am encouraged by their opposition to the banking elite), and I will likely spell out the reasons in detail here soon, but regardless of my disagreement with them, I cannot support the kind of police tactics that have been used against them, and I cannot help but notice the glaring inconsistency between our police treatment of them and of the nearly universally reviled Westboro Baptist Church.

Can't we all just get along (without aiming tear gas canisters at the heads of Iraq War veterans)?


Wes Messamore,
Editor in Chief, THL
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