Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Just Like China, Except...

Richard Kahn argues that a show of force on the part of authorities in downtown Los Angeles equates to the violence wrecked on protestors in Tiananmen Square. Except, of course, that no one was shot, no one was arrested, and no one was "disappeared." Just to clarify: hundreds of people did not die in downtown Los Angeles. Just to further clarify: not one person died in downtown Los Angeles as a result of a police action.

Kahn writes:

What the [needless profanity redacted]?!!! Was this to provoke people and attempt to spark a riot? Or was this a symbolic pro-war counter-demonstration by the Bush Term II that was meant to send a clear message early on that demonstrations will not be met (as previously) with the simple tolerance of numerous cops, undercover agents, copters circling, cameras clicking and videotaping, the occasional rough ups and arrests, toxic pepper spray and rubber bullets; but now, apparently, all bets are off, and as China looks more and more like capitalist America, the United States starts to look more and more like Tiananmen Square.


In fact, Kahn admits that the tanks left in pretty short order when it was determined that their presence wasn't needed to maintain the safety of the public or the protestors.

Can a local government use its police powers to maintain some basic semblance of public order without every hippie yelling about violations of their civil rights? Is freedom of speech absolute, or can commuters also expect to be allowed to drive home without weaving around placard carrying protestors?

I say: Protest all you want. Good for you. It's nice to see young people who believe in something. Nihilism is *so* played out. However, please let me drive home from work relatively unmolested. The traffic is bad enough around here as it is. Don't we still have freedom of movement in this country? Whose rights take precedence in this situation? Can't we all just get along?

Kahn leaves unasked: whose tanks were those? He assumes that only the Federal Government, and thus President George Bush directly, has the authority to use armored personnel carriers to maintain public order in the face of a disruptive protest during what appears to be rush hour. The stolen base: couldn't the California National Guard, with purely local authority, perform the same actions? Should we say that Mayor Jim Hahn and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (a squishy Republican on his best days) are merely stooges of the Republican-Proto-Fascist establishment? Or, can we write this off as the ravings of the looney left who merely wish to exaggerate for their own political ends?
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