Friday, October 21, 2011


Anarchists and other violent protesters are the worst possible thing to have happen to a protest movement.  They provoke official retaliation, deter moderates, and cannot do anything but harm the cause they claim to support.  Unfortunately, they are also often a substantial part of the core of a protest movement. 

From within any such movement, separating and distancing oneself from the offensive element is key to movement success.

Riot police make sense for riots...

...But not so much for when peaceful protesters are peacefully protesting.  When that happens, and the police decide to take off their name-badges (Or so I hear, from those who were watching) and get all violent, it only makes them look bad.

I am not convinced that this movement travels as well as the organisers of the global companion protests hope.  That is, I think that the particular circumstances of the US make the protest much more meaningful there than it is in, say, Melbourne, Australia.  But if any government wants to build support for a protest movement, actions like the one linked to above are only going to help the protest.

One might also consider that the Victorian police force is not exactly renowned for being a shining beacon of professionalism.  Perhaps they should take more care of their public image, and refrain from senseless violent retaliation against peaceful protesters?


Interesting also to read the comments to the above linked post.  A lot of people who are not just openly sympathetic to the protesters, but actively opposed to the restrictions that underly the government response.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hashtags, Swastikas and the embarrasing ineptitude of the American right.

Thinkprogress has a wonderful story up about right wing US commentators claiming that the # symbol, being used by the OWS protesters, is in fact a cunningly disguised swastika, because OWS is all about Nazism.

It would be hilarious if it were less scary.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Turns out at least one of them is known...

The Guardian has named the officer involved in pepper spraying bystanders at one of the Occupy Wall Street protests some days ago.  Anthony Balogna... who is already facing legal action arising from his actions at earlier protest actions.  Nice.

But then, that is only pepper spray.  I do wonder who the white shirt going nuts with the baton was.  Especially given that the rest of the officers surrounding him didn't look at all interested in joining in.  It looks a lot worse for you when everyone else on your side thinks it is unnecessary.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Is this happening yet?

If you look through this Guardian report on the Occupy Wall St protests, you will notice, on more than one occasion, pictures and video of white shirted (read: senior) police officers beating/macing protesters.  It seems clear that they were doing this not because the protesters were acting violently, indeed, there are no reports of violence from the protesters such as would explain the police resort to violence.  Stark contrast to the recent London uprising.

Now, what I am wondering is whether any enterprising young rebel has decided yet to find out who these people are.  Get some nice head shots of the perpetrators, run some video, search for names, and start a campaign.  '' has a good ring to it.  I say his advisedly, as I have yet to see any footage of senior female police officers waving their sticks around with no regard for their targets (did you see that they managed to mace and beat a Fox News crew?).

I would be somewhat surprised, and a little disappointed in the resourcefulness of the protesters, if some sort of site tracking and naming the officers in charge of this behaviour does not exist.  I also think that I would probably think it a reasonable response for the protesters to make to the police actions against them.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fantasy novels, feminism and misogyny.

Sady Doyle at Tiger Beatdown started an (ongoing) shitstorm on the interwebs with her critique of George RR Martin's 'Song of Ice and Fire'.  Essentially: "It is rape-y, he is creepy, I disapprove."

Well and good, you might think.  But this set off a round of secondary conflicts, which are popping up in other places, like Crooked Timber, where a 300+ comment post started by Belle Waring has been thoroughly derailed into a discussion of whether Martin is bad, whether Sady approached his badness in a reasonable way, and whether she handled the ensuing mess appropriately.

I want to avoid the Martin based chronicles of messiness associated with all this and focus on 2 features which I think are valuable and being brought to the fore by the whole debacle. First is the presence of good male writers of feminist fantasy, and second is the amusing riffing on the concept of 'mansplaining' which begins at about comment 254 of the Crooked Timber thread.


1.  If you want good feminist fantasy, strong female characters doing strong things in ways that defy gender stereotyping, and for which they are respected as people (rather than particularly as women), look no further than Terry Pratchett.  Then read what he writes.  His female characters are never in danger of rape (indeed, the context of his world is such that that particular kind of violence is not present), and they are constantly both acting against the stereotypes present in his world, and showing those to be misguided.

2.  'Mansplaining' (horrible term which I think serves no good purpose) gets linked to much more interesting things:

Fansplaining is a much-needed term. We’ve all seen it: fans who over-identify with a work, who take every critical reading of that work as a personal attack, and who think that sufficiently forceful arguments might persuade the rest of the world that their own reading is the only valid one.

Commenter 'Gareth Rees'

Fans of Jersey Shore, of course, engage in tansplaining.

Commenter Doctor Slack

I’m going to have to unsubscribe from this blog if it degenerates into nothing but splainsplaining.

Commenter mds

Sorry mds, I couldn’t hear you over the sound of Gordon Ramsay pansplaining.

Doctor Slack again...

There’s nothing worse than someone wearing the wrong tartan who defends her error by clansplaining.


I think Brown Eyed Girl is a really good song, and Astral Weeks is in no way over-rated.

Soru  (This comment is wonderful.  Really.)

“We’re just trying to preserve our Southern culture’n’heritage, you Yankees wouldn’t understand,” Slidell klansplained.


And so on for far too much of the comment thread.  I felt as though I had no need to get invovled, really, other than to enjoy all of this.