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Ani- drift

today's protesters

Posted by profoundtruths on 2010.02.12 at 22:03

I've been carrying my "Vancouver 2010 another downhill event" pin for the last 3 years or so. That said, since 2002 I've been heavily anti-olympics, I remember the 2002 social cuts and how they affected people and I said, "we take care of our citizens, then we have a party". I argued with everyone and I voted no on the plebecite and I was always taking heat for my views.

My kids are athletic, so I've tried to let them develop their own views. I want them to aspire to greatness and I want them to compete in major events. But my kids have decided on their own accord that they aren't really into the hype of the olympics. I have informed them at times about the cost and how we could use the money instead, but I really have tried to keep the derogatory comments to intellectually based arguments.

I also teach my kids about protesting about free speech and about the fact that every luxury we have was died for by protesters - the 8 hour day, child labour laws, free speech and unions... people died for all of those. I make my kids listen to Utah Phillips and we talk about things like the Bread and Roses March. My kids as toddlers were on the cover of the 'spare change' newsletter holding placards outside of Gordon Campbells office.

My kids have been disappointed by the Olympics - for the first time in their schools history a team has gone absolutely undefeated for an entire season and my kids would have been on that basketball team winning the city finals, or at least coming damn close. That is, if the city finals weren't cancelled for the Olympics.

My kids school is fortunate enough to be close to an ice rink, so for PE each year in February or March the kids get to go skating a few times. Well, except this year. This year their rink is being used by athletes. But at least they get to meet the athletes... oh wait. Nevermind, no they don't. They can go in a handful at a time, but they must enter before the team arrives, leave after the team leaves, no standing, no moving, no talking, no cheering (yeah, you can't even say "good goal") - oh and a coach is allowed to veto this arrangement at anytime without warning. My kids think that this is stupid, none of the younger grades can do that.

Then there was the stupid bumbling idiocy this summer - they decided to bus kids from East Van to the new oval; parents signed the waivers and the kids would spend 3 hours at this thing for about 45 minutes of ice time. But aside from the venue waivers and the city waivers they didn't have us sign the VANOC media release, so the entire group of kids were held up for about an hour or so. We're not sure how long because after an hour my kids said, "lets get out of here - this is stupid". My kids knew that this was a bullshit reason to not go.

But the torch was going past their school today, and they were out with all their friends. My husband went along to keep them safe because I know that sometimes the police can be heavy handed - I've been to my fair share of protests in the past. My kids wanted to go, so who am I to say they can't.

After school my kids came home and they were quite upset with what happened, they felt really bad for the kindergartners who were afraid of the menacing guys wearing balaclavas. Apparently some of them had to be escorted back to the school because they were crying and afraid. My kids have always been told that protest is a good thing and that there should always be critical thought about what our leaders do. The protesters really shook them though.

Then my daughter told me about one protester that came right up to them and their friend and said, "your parents are to blame for this bad decision, you'll be paying for the rest of your lives for this". Apparently my husband used this opportunity to explain what their parents think, which startled the protester - it's really easy to pick on kids and yell at them about things they cannot change or respond to. My daughter said that when my husband started to tell the protester that we voted no, he ran off.

When they came home one of my kids said to me - "if I'm paying for it anyways, why didn't they at least let us watch it?"

The funny part is that most of the students are not that different from my kids; kids share their views and my kids are outspoken. A large contingent of those kids would probably be with the protesters if it were held a few years later. Instead, those protesters undid all the work I've done to tell them that the best thing you can do for your country is to think for yourself.

So me and my family and their friends watched the Opening Ceremonies because the protesters have lost all credibility with us.


jonesa3 at 2010-02-13 06:15 (UTC) (Link)
Ah, it always comes down to the kids. Show a picture of some kid crying about missing an event, and the criminalization poverty, environmental destruction, and rampant capitalist exploitation of our country are suddenly ok.

I say let kids have their fun, but don't for a second think that just because some protesters ruin it for kids that their message is any less valid.
profoundtruths at 2010-02-13 06:28 (UTC) (Link)
clearly my post was a little tldr for you.

Let me summarize - terrorizing 5 year olds by pacing next to them in balaclavas and telling 10-year-olds to "blame their parents" isn't just "ruining an event" that's being harmful to the messaging.
jonesa3 at 2010-02-13 06:36 (UTC) (Link)
Obviously individuals may be problematic, but I don't see how this ruins the overall protest against the Olympics.

Sure, I wouldn't directly confront children, I can agree with that, but I'm not sure how this reflects poorly on "protesters" as a group. It's not a homogenous organization.
arwenoid at 2010-02-13 06:40 (UTC) (Link)
Agreed. I'd say it would reflect badly on THAT protestor...
jonesa3 at 2010-02-13 06:52 (UTC) (Link)
Yeah. I definitely won't back that individual, but taking them as somehow representative about a diverse array of concerns is pretty silly!
profoundtruths at 2010-02-14 00:00 (UTC) (Link)
I heard from another parent today that it was more than the one idiot targeting the kids - another guy was screaming at the kindergarten teacher that she was teaching "fucking bullshit" to the kids and was screaming over and over at her and *that* was why the kindergarten kids were crying.

There were apparently a lot more than just the guy that targeted my kids, there were a bunch of them all going after the kids.
profoundtruths at 2010-02-13 06:53 (UTC) (Link)
See that's the thing - there were about 200 people there, and if I'm with a group of protesters and someones doing something not okay, I would tell them - that's not okay. The fact that clearly no one in the group felt that they could tell the other protesters "hey, y'know the kids aren't really our target audience" or "the kids don't really get this and yelling at them isn't really going to do much but make us look like a bunch of assholes if it gets up to youtube"

The fact that none of the protesters thought that wasn't okay is clearly a sign of a big problem. I've been at plenty of protests and I've organized protests and kids have always been sacrosanct - they don't usually choose to be where they are.

If a police officer had come along and pepper-hosed the kids, people wouldn't be defending the police doing that and saying, "it was just a rogue officer". Being disorganized isn't license to be a dick.
mrs. picky-pants
bloodykitty at 2010-02-13 07:33 (UTC) (Link)
I agree, though I don't care for the analogy.

Like it or not, a protest is going to be judged by the public based on the behaviour of the participants who are most sensational. If the purpose of your demonstration is to garner public support, it is wise to not just avoid backing problematic individuals, but to try to keep them in line.
kumokasumi at 2010-02-13 19:20 (UTC) (Link)
If a police officer had come along and pepper-hosed the kids, people wouldn't be defending the police doing that and saying, "it was just a rogue officer". Being disorganized isn't license to be a dick.

Lots of police officers are dicks all the time. Macing people is actual, illegal violence, though. If some protesters had gassed your kids, this'd be a different conversation.

kids have always been sacrosanct - they don't usually choose to be where they are.
Eh, kids don't come to rallies. When you're attacking a symbol that's pandered to children, it seems inevitable that they'll experience some of the protest.
profoundtruths at 2010-02-13 22:54 (UTC) (Link)
I used to take my kids to protests all the time - read what I wrote. If anyone I had ever been at a protest had done anything like that I would have called them on that and I would have made it clear that its not acceptable.

I found out from a mother today that another protester was screaming at the kindergarten teacher in front of all her students, "why are you teaching them this fucking bullshit, your a fucking idiot for doing this" and on and on.

One of my kids had nightmares last night after what they saw yesterday. So the idea that as long as the protesters don't physically attack the children they don't need to be held accountable to basic forms of humanity is bullshit.

And yes lot of cops are dicks all of the time and I fully agree with that, but the fact that the police shouldn't be held accountable for allowing that kind of behaviour to continue is the same as protesters not holding their own accountable to basic human values of respecting children.
kumokasumi at 2010-02-13 23:10 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm pretty much agreeing with you, here. Yelling at someone isn't generally illegal, though; hitting or macing them generally is. I don't think that distinction is trivial or bullshit, but of course I still think it's pretty low to scream at a scared teacher in front of her scared kids.

Would a cop getting all up in that guy's face help? I'd almost be worried it'd just escalate things.
surrey_sucks at 2010-02-13 07:23 (UTC) (Link)
I just heard on the news that some protesters threw marbles to trip the police horses. WTF? Disgusting.
the green bastard...
seymour_glass at 2010-02-13 08:06 (UTC) (Link)
you know it's a tough one...i certainly don't agree with harassing kids...they have to make their own minds up, their own decisions and have their own experiences...that would include both bad and good i suppose...we are still pretty insulated here, even a "bad" protest here is nothing like france or the third world...and it's getting to the point here people are starting to feel like they have little or nothing to lose...which i know you totally appreciate by the work you do...and when that starts happening they are willing to go much further out on the limb...i can't condone the yelling at the kids...that's somewhat out of bounds in my estimation...but you know i think when your particular kids look back on it in a few years they will probably understand where those guys were coming from, whether or not they were justified in those particular actions...the unmitigated greed of the games is pretty ugly and it will likely beget some ugly consequences...lucky for us generally our ugly consequences are mild in the grand scheme...
profoundtruths at 2010-02-13 16:29 (UTC) (Link)
I really hope so, I do feel like a lot of work I've done to get the kids to see the point in protest - and my kids are conservative in nature, they don't like to rock the boat and they don't like to draw attention and they certainly don't like to do something *wrong*. So when they see protesters doing something that scares them and when they are being targeted by them. It has an effect; hopefully over time they do see that this is how *not* to protest and that this guy is just an asshole.
the green bastard...
seymour_glass at 2010-02-13 20:37 (UTC) (Link)
it's funny i'm really struggling on this one...on one hand i believe in protest very strongly...and i understand that most great gains in this country have come from very violent confrontation, the winnipeg general strike, the gastown riots, etc...canada is historically a land of peace and on the other hand protest when the fight is righteous enough...but i draw the lines at children and innocent bystanders...property damage against corporations i can understand...facing off against and challenging authorities as well...i will wait and see the whole story...there is a lot of rumour and hype along the way...like dmitri soudas claiming the insite protesters sealed the chinese community centre shut and libby davies was behind it...the right knows very well that you can get any lie out there and people will listen to the original story...even if you correct it very few people listen to the correction...i will keep an open mind for now and see how it plays out...
profoundtruths at 2010-02-13 22:56 (UTC) (Link)
One of the moms that was at a different place than boi told me today that a protester was screaming at the Kindergarten teacher in front of all her students, "your teaching these children fucking bullshit" and things like that. That was why the kindergartens went in crying. So it was beyond one dick, there were apparently quite a few militants that were engaging in targeting the kids. One of my girls actually had nightmares about what happened yesterday.
the green bastard...
seymour_glass at 2010-02-14 07:20 (UTC) (Link)
well again i don't condone or support that...but that's always the problem...you get those few dickheads like today that give the peaceful protesters a bad name...and then you have others wanting vigilante justice and someone is bound to get hurt...and it will be the wrong person...then again it will be interesting to see if things are mellow on the granville strip tonight with all those drinkers in one place...
profoundtruths at 2010-02-14 15:24 (UTC) (Link)
That's actually something that I was wondering about. You get some drunk pro-olympic frat boy types against a group of these thug "protesters" - it could get bad at some point.
(Deleted comment)
profoundtruths at 2010-02-13 16:35 (UTC) (Link)

The olympic torch should not be carried in on the backs of the poor and marginalized.

The thing is that I agree with the messages - I work with the most disadvantaged people in the lower mainland trying to get them out of the most dire situations. I see the direct impact of cuts made in 2002 today. When I do public speaking I acknowledge that I am on unceded Coast Salish lands. The protesters words aren't wrong, its the way they behave.

surrey_sucks at 2010-02-13 19:26 (UTC) (Link)

Re: The olympic torch should not be carried in on the backs of the poor and marginalized.

The protesters words aren't wrong, its the way they behave.


One of the reasons why I hate the Olympics is because I can't stand large crowds, especially when commuting. The protestors are just adding to the crowds.
arwenoid at 2010-02-13 20:26 (UTC) (Link)

Re: The olympic torch should not be carried in on the backs of the poor and marginalized.

Yeah, I'd agree with that.
on e on e t wo
eleventytw0 at 2010-02-13 16:59 (UTC) (Link)
I'm all for peaceful demonstration and reminding the world that yes, Vancouver DOES have its problems. But once it becomes disruptive of other people's enjoyment, then it crosses the line and I have no patience for these people.

It's nice to finally see spirit in Vancouver. I have some friends that are incredibly moved by the Olympics but by no means do it mean that these people don't know the problems associated with it. I think that's one thing lots of protesters are forgetting. Just because I may not actively protest, doesn't mean that "I don't get it".
kumokasumi at 2010-02-13 19:13 (UTC) (Link)
There are dicks everywhere, on all sides, at all times. Speaking from personal experience!, it's also unfortunately easy to be a dick when you're feeling self-righteous and know that you're right, like these protesters.

I wonder if "protest is good" is too simple a message. I think the point of what you saw is that you should tell your kids that protest needs to be thought through as much as any decision by leadership.

I'm not sure that they didn't achieve exactly what they wanted to, though: I'm not saying it's fair or humane, but scaring kids starts conversations at home. That really gets to people. It sounds like they got to you...
profoundtruths at 2010-02-13 23:04 (UTC) (Link)
"protest is good" is a simple message and for kids, complex concepts beyond that is a bit much to grasp. We did take the opportunity since we decided not to boycott the Beijing Olympics (my kids are summer sport athletes) to explain about human rights and how protesters are handled in China. I had a lot of friends that were at APEC and WTO and so I explained that to them as well, so I think in a lot of ways I have always painted protesters as defenders of freedom - it's like Utah Phillips who says his mom used to cut out stories of bank robbers and call them "class heroes".

To be targeted by the "good guys" really messed with them - one of my kids had nightmares about the whole incident yesterday. So it was a discussion, but I don't know that anything good came out of it other than sometimes people are dicks and I would have liked to have taught them that without it being people who I technically agree with, doing something I technically believe in but in such a fucked up sort of way.
kumokasumi at 2010-02-13 23:15 (UTC) (Link)
I hear ya. I'm really sorry if it sounded like I was trying to give you a lecture on parenting; I'm just a dumb kid!
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