...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004
      ( 3:30 PM )
Dissent at Your Own Risk

The meetings of government leaders to discuss things such as how they can sell out their citizens for the cheapest price possible, i.e., G8 meetings, have moved further and further away from human access. This week, the G8 is being held on an island off the coast of Georgia. Next year: the moon! As most of my long time readers know, I am one of the biggest supporters of protest demonstrations you might find. I truly believe that one of the most important ways to show dissent, power in numbers, and to make our voices heard is to hit the streets. And we all know that in response to people shouting and protesting, they can expect to be beaten, trampled, shot at and otherwise maimed or injured by "security forces." Trust me, I've run the gamut, from trying to escape plastic bullets in northern Ireland to being pepper sprayed in Seattle. But despite the risks, courageous people still turn out to give a voice to all of us.

Of course, the purpose of holding the G8 meeting on an island is to keep the precious world leaders safe from people who want to shout about how angry they are at being sold out to the benefit of corporations. But this year, the "security" plans have taken on an ominous touch of doom.

"How did this happen?" asks local teacher David Ray Dockery ("Hairy Dave" to his friends), hurling industrial quantities of organic cereal and dog food into his pick-up in preparation for the exodus to the mainland. "We're just a little-bitty island. No one ever thought we'd be put in a position where we'd have a bullseye on our back."

Paranoia, perhaps. But there's nothing like the chunter of helicopters to put the wind up a generation raised on M*A*S*H. The skies along the coast, normally the arena for spectacular aeronautics by brown pelicans, are black with military aircraft, swooping low over the houses on endless security sorties. Roadside checkpoints, manned by cheery grunts cradling machine-guns, are scarcely more reassuring.

"This is real scary shit," says Jay Thompson, a Delta flight attendant, who has decided to sit out the siege at home. "We never had a war here. We're not used to seeing tanks and guns on American soil. This is stuff you see in movies."


St Simons, however, has also traditionally attracted a Bohemian fringe of artists and writers. At Beachview Books, a gathering place for embattled, vociferous liberals, attitudes are is less gung-ho. Larry, editor of The Great Speckled Seagull, a "semi-underground" periodical, is a gentle radical who wears a cowboy hat with a feather in it and carves weirdly beautiful faces in the island's trees. He has just heard a rumour that 2,000 body bags have been delivered to the clapboard Chamber of Commerce across the road from the bookstore. This intelligence is passed around like a joint at a fortysomething party, a delicious whiff of recreational danger. Five minutes later, one of the island's fire chiefs drops by, fresh from a briefing. It's not a rumour. The body bags are here, together with a refrigerated lorry to take away the corpses. "I liked it better when it was a rumour," says Larry.

It's now reached the point where these meetings, knowing that they will incur massive protests, prepare a force big enough to provoke more protest. It's an unending cycle. Instead of say, engaging the public, allowing open sessions for citizens of the G8 countries to partipate and see what they're governments are deciding in their names, these meetings continue to become more and more closed and more and more dangerous for all of us. What must be protested are the closed doors that don't let light shine on what these leaders are discussing.

Worse, once again it will be the protesters made the villains instead of anyone taking the time to listen to them or to question why there always ARE so many of them. Isn't it about time that the G8 listen to us instead of each other? A local on the island says it best:

So there won't be too many people on St Simons waving the G8 flags today. "No matter which way you look at it, you're polishing a turd," says Hairy Dave. "You can polish it up as much as you want, dress it up in pretty pink ribbons, and what have you got at the end? A shiny turd."

Thanks to Blah3 for the heads up on the article.

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