"They had been persuaded...(to) conclude their protest in what the event organizers called the Free Speech Zone. This was a cage between the security zone and the public zone in which protesters were invited to demonstrate their concerns to the gathered delegates of the Democratic Party.Yes, as they have been ever since the Southern Strategy turned the nation into a loosely-affiliated motley of tribes smug and secure in their new, improved, "color-blind" segregationism.
... I ended up standing next to a lanky, graying reporter whose security badge indicated he was from USA Today. I asked him if anyone had ever used the Free Speech Zone. He didn’t think so. But he had heard that the final location of the Zone was the result of considerable wrangling. The original location was almost completely inaccessible, and local activists had managed to ensure that the new location would be at least somewhat more visible.
This may have been the case, but the new location did not seem to be much of an improvement. I asked several volunteers if they knew where it was located, and none of them did. I finally found it myself by following some riot police to the edge of the security zone.
The Free Speech Zone, it turned out, looked liked the caged-in playground of a 1970’s-era housing project. It was made of the same kind of mesh barriers as the rest of the perimeter, only the barriers were much taller—maybe ten feet—and they had been doubled into parallel walls about four feet apart, like the twin battlements atop a medieval castle. To the right of this cage, which was about the size of three tennis courts, was a large gate, currently sealed. On one side were two dozen riot police, quite relaxed. On the other, just barely in view, the marchers. No one was in the cage. I asked one of the officers what was going on, and he said they refused to enter.
... A volunteer driving a trash cart paused to consider the situation. His youth and shaggy demeanor suggested that he might be on the side of anarchy and/or peace, but in fact he was disdainful. He looked at the meandering crowd and said, “All of them should go out and try making some money and then do something.” Then he drove off.
The protesters, for their part, seemed completely defeated. Someone had set up a microphone at a podium inside the cage and the protesters were invited inside to make speeches. I tried to listen, but I was kept so far back by the police that I couldn’t make out any of the words. The tone of the speeches became rambling, though, and at one point someone launched into a poor take on “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.”
Things were falling apart."
Now some people will say that this is only social evolution, that this is the age of the internet, and that marching thing is SO 1960s. But even a half million e-mails will never have the power of a half million warm bodies showing up to demand accountability from the Geezer-in-Chief. If you don't think Martin Luther King's people didn't have Nixon shaking in his shoes, you weren't there.
Until we can get pissed enough to get off our asses, we will continue to be herded into cattle pens miles from any potentially embarrassing encounter with the assholes who run our lives into the ground. Samuel Johnson wrote: "Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully." Does this mean we must continue to watch things spiral down into disaster until our situation becomes sufficiently dire to concentrate our minds? We are a nation of grasshoppers, not ants--and we seldom do anything until its already too late. So laugh at the protesters, if you think they're hopeless, naieve, simple. Go ahead, why not? The creatures who circumscribe your lives are laughing at you, too, and their laughter puts poison in your water and takes the future away from your children. It's a fine joke.