Things, stuff, and other items of interest

July 20, 2010

The G20 Summit, Cops vs. Hippies, and Civil Liberties

Blogs are kind of annoying at times. This writing on a schedule thing isn't really agreeing with me. You may have noticed the lack of frequency of the posting as of late. I probably should have given you guys a heads up on that. It's summer, the bike's on the road and the sun's been shining a lot lately which makes for some long over due riding weather. Conversely, this also results in some rather piss-poor blog-updating weather. Isn't the first time, won't be the last,... or maybe it will.

I don't mind admitting that I've been struggling with a couple of topics lately. I usually try to keep things reasonably topical on here, the only problem with that is lately all the topical stuff that I'm reading about tends to induce bone-chilling depression. The last few weeks have seen the mostly Canadian media go positively ape-shit over (A.) the G20 summit, and then (B.) all of the Cops versus Hippies fall out that all too predictably followed.

I don't mind saying that I struggled on this one. I've sort of ran the entire spectrum on it. I started out siding with the protesters, then I kind of came around to siding with the cops, and now I'm somewhere in the middle. Conclusions I've drawn from the whole event:
  1. Mr. Harper REALLY REALLY REALLY hates Toronto.
  2. The protesters are either the bravest most selfless individuals in that city, or the dumbest. I suspect the numbers would break down something along the lines of:
    • 10% - Died in the wool true believers. Either painfully naive, or oblivious to the fact that their protests are wholly useless in terms of helping them advance any of their causes. No matter how deserving, silly, honourable, fictional, just, or deluded that cause may be.
    • 10% - Reporters & bloggers that are either fearless and extremely dedicated, or very stupid. Either way, they're all there to get a story. For the record, I tend to believe the former rather than the latter. Though there were examples of both categories present.
    • 5% - Black Block. To call these guys anarchists is a disservice to anarchists. With full knowledge of just how old a curmudgeon this will make me sound like, I'll say it anyways: They're a bunch gutless punks.
    • 75% - Moronic protest tourists, who like so many rubber-neckers on the highway have to slow down an see what the all the fuss is about. Loathsome creatures, that I'd like to think I'm better than but can almost guarantee that I'm not.
  3. Cops are human. Not all cops are bad, and sadly, not all cops are good. I don't doubt for a second that some cops crossed a line. I don't even doubt that some of them leaped across it willingly. I don't believe that applies to all of them, but the over-zealous cops with violent tendencies are no easier to identify than the Black Block asshats are while marching in the middle of a bunch of hippies. Unfortunately, I find difficult to maintain any sort of faith in any of the three (I think) investigations that have resulted from the weekend. Call me a cynic.
  4. This guy kicks ass:

So far the Canadian public seems far more outraged at the price tag that's accompanying this little shindig than they are at the tactics used by the police officers present. While trying not to belittle the concerns regarding the latter, it's not difficult to see why Canadians are having a hard time swallowing the billion dollar price tag. From the fake lake fiasco and the burning cop cars to the rather spectacular lack of progress resulting from the actual summit, this thing was a cluster-[DUCK] of massive proportions. At the end of the day, the only ones who walked away feeling like they got anything done was Mr. Sarkozy and the members of the press who had the foresight to hop on Twitter and offer an invitation to their followers for a front line view of the goings-on. 
The complaints we’ve received so far raise serious concerns about this regulation and the way it was communicated, and I think there is a very strong public interest in finding out exactly what happened and how that affected the rest of the events of the G20 weekend.
- Ontario Ombudsman André Marin
One last item for the record; that bit about the last minute regulation being passed under the Public Works Protection Act in regards to a five meter perimeter around the security barrier? That was a really scummy move Mr. Blair, very scummy indeed. If the media is to be believed, and reports are in fact accurate, then it's more than a little frightening just how easily some of those in power were all too happy to intentionally mislead in order to assume extra powers. Temporary or not. If I've misunderstood the facts on this, I would be genuinely grateful to have someone point it out to me.
Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it; and this I know, my lords, that where laws end, tyranny begins.
- William Pitt the Elder, from a House of Lords speech in 1770.
Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
- Lord Acton, in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, 1887
The weeks following the big event have seen even more protests, in cities all across Canada. It's quite something. People are rallying together to show their support for a second wave of protests that took place, and are still taking place in Toronto that were meant to register the displeasure of the original protesters with the conduct of the police on that weekend in late June. To be honest, I find this kind of silly. If the protesters at the actual event were ineffective, then what does that make these people? It seems like it's a exercise in mutual ego stroking. That may be a little harsh, I'm not entirely unsympathetic. I understand the rationale that if we don't protect our civil liberties then we don't deserve them, particularly when viewed through some of the draconian security measures of recent days. It just seems like one of those times when you should pick your battles. Maybe, just maybe,... marching en masse down Queen Street in the provincial capital isn't all that effective a manner of supporting your particular cause. I'm not entirely clear on how it helps to free Tibet, or stop off-shore oil drilling, or provide clean drinking water and adequate health care to those who need it.

I'd be curious to find out what percentage of the protesters, and cops for that matter, voted in the last few federal elections. Do they take the time to research the causes they march in favour of or are they just along for the ride? I'd suggest we conduct some sort of census or survey, but that's a whole other problem for another day.

I mentioned earlier that I struggled with this topic, and I guess it shows that I still am. I'm not satisfied with where things sit, and I doubt I ever will be. I don't mind sharing with you that I was, and remain rather conflicted with whether or not I should even bother writing this post. When it comes right down to it, I wasn't there. I'm getting all my information second hand if I'm lucky. I suspect it'd be difficult for those involved to cut through the bullshit on this, let alone for those of us playing arm-chair quarterback  from the side lines. Ultimately, I guess I side with both sides. I admire and appreciate the protesters for their passion and idealism, though I question their foresight and common sense. I admire and appreciate the police for the dedication to their duty and for enforcing the rule of law when it was unpopular, though I question their methods and leadership decisions

At the end of the day, this is just another blog among thousands written by just another wind bag who wasn't there and didn't see it first hand. Hindsight is always 20/20 after all. The best suggestion I heard to date along those lines was that if they had kept the entire affair in Huntsville, they could have saved half a billion bucks. Send all the cops home, and go around to all the stores in town and buy out the towns' entire inventory of bug spray. The mosquitoes would take care of the rest.

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