[sixties-l] Fwd: Sometimes the mob should be heard

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: Wed Jun 21 2000 - 20:22:29 CUT

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    > Sometimes the mob should be heard
    >June 21, 2000 - Toronto Star

    by Dalton Camp, [old guard "red tory" journalist and former political
    strategist for "PC" party in Canada]

    >Some people are upset about the conduct of the anti-government
    >demonstrators at Queen's Park the other day, citing the attacks made
    >upon the police and the general lack of restraint, good order and
    >respect for the rule of the law.
    >In the confrontation, it appeared the police got the better of it since
    >they had a distinct advantage in the range of ordnance, armaments and
    >horsepower, although voices have been raised against the destruction to
    >property, always a matter of concern to advocates of law and order. And
    >it didn't help, in the optics of the thing, that so many of the
    >agitators were unkept and ill-dressed, even for a riot.
    >There is a general feeling of unease about the event, and also the
    >belief that in a democracy those who have a beef against the government
    >should use the institutions provided for citizen complaint and redress.
    >Before acting out at Queen's Park, one should first write, phone, fax,
    >E-mail, or visit one's member of the Legislature.
    >It might be difficult, of course, to catch your member's ear or eye
    >right now because all honourable members are standing by for a quick
    >vote on the proposed MPPs' pay raise. Another way to be heard would be
    >to buy a ticket to a Mike Harris fundraiser, but then you'd have to
    >respect not only the rule of law but the dress code.
    >Perhaps the demonstrators should consider moving to Alberta. In Alberta,
    >although there are many law-and-order enthusiasts, there is a
    >distinction made between laws that must be upheld and laws that are of
    >no account and don't deserve upholding.
    >For example, Canada's Parliament has passed a law requiring those who
    >possess firearms to register them. That's the law, and the Supreme Court
    >of Canada has recently upheld it.
    >Nevertheless, the provincial attorney-general, who is responsible for
    >law enforcement, has told Albertans he has no intention of prosecuting
    >offenders of the gun law. This is because he doesn't agree with the law,
    >or, more correctly, a lot of his friends don't agree with the law.
    >Urgings on behalf of the Alberta government that the law be ignored have
    >been enthusiastically welcomed by gun owners. Indeed, it is likely that
    >anyone seeking to conform to the law by registering a gun might receive
    >a blow on the head from a truncheon.
    >We should bear in mind that a majority of Albertans support the gun law,
    >as do most other Canadians. Thus, we can see that whether or not to
    >observe the law is a majoritarian consideration is not the question. It
    >seems to be the case that important people who hold office, or power, or
    >influence may defy the law, without penalty or opprobrium. But those who
    >are deemed unimportant must follow the law, or suffer the consequences.
    >We tell one another that the mob must not rule or else anarchy will
    >triumph. But sometimes the mob will have a positive effect, as in the
    >Boston Tea Party, or the protests against the Vietnam war.
    >Montrealers rioted against the suspension of hockey hero Rocket Richard;
    >the Polish dockworkers rioted against their Communist masters; the poor
    >and homeless rioted against the Harris government. There is historic
    >evidence that mobs have changed the minds of their masters, have shaped
    >policy and influenced events. Some mobs have been empowered by idealism,
    >or by anger, or nihilism, some in support of freedom, others in the
    >service of totalitarianism.
    >What unsettles editorial boards and letter writers to the press is that
    >such excess of feeling and the disregard for restraint required of any
    >civil society are unbecoming to a democracy. This is true, but who said
    >this was a democracy? Many who say we have a working democracy really
    >mean to say we have an economic system - capitalism - that works for
    >There are others the system serves less happily and who feel
    >unrepresented and abandoned. A growing number of thoughtful people, who
    >are not employed as cheerleaders for the system, are pointing to the
    >declining level of public involvement in our democracy - Robert Entman
    >describes it as a ``democracy without citizens.''
    >Democracy, meant to be the rule of the many, has become the rule of the
    >few, in which the corporate media become a giant mechanism for the
    >manipulation of public opinion, the numbing of the social conscience,
    >and dumbing down of the public mind.
    >Many would prefer to sleep through this movie, join the chic in
    >embracing the media view that democracy is not about politics and debate
    >over choices, but about consumerism and choices of style and preference
    >- the hottest car, the latest technology toy. Others - more than a few -
    >sense the danger to democracy's survival. A part of them was with the
    >rioters outside the Legislature, which once represented them all.

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