Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Sing Out, Brother: The protest thing got me down last week. I was coming home from work, rush hour, almost out of gas. I decided to drive through the center of my town (Liberalville, Massachusetts) to stop at the gas station I like -- the one that gives a free cuppa coffee with 8 gallons. Just as I got to the main crossroads in the village square, a crowd poured off the sidewalk, carrying the requisite placards, banners, and symbolically defaced American flags, and lay down in the road. A die-in! I'd read about these things, and now I'd get to see one from the vantage point of ... well, how about precisely 15 feet from the sancutuary of the other side of the intersection (and access to the petrol stop). Cops were already there, so I gather this group had been performing its act of public service at various intersections in town. I expected that, tops, one cycle of the traffic light would go by, the cops would say "You've made your point, now get up," and that would be that. Imagine my surprise when the cops started to wave to traffic to turn around and seek (cue scary music) alternate routes! Fine, fine, hooray for your little bit of activism. I love the first amendment. I love the freedom we have to assemble peacefully. I even love civil disobedience, when it means deliberately engaging in protest by breaking an unjust law. But this was breaking a just law (governing traffic) and a common sense principle (don't lie in the road) to make an insignificant "statement" about the war. Two wrongs don't make a right, but I wound down the window and asked the cop anyway: "Can I run them over?"

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