....LMB: "Cops vs. Free Speech"....

September 21, 2002

"Thousands" of protesters plan to take to the streets of Washington, DC this coming week to protest at an annual meeting of the IMF and World Bank. Well, they will if the police let them.

Let's see, how to summarize...

The World Bank and IMF are international loan/aid institutions that are frequently criticized for doing more harm than good to the poor struggling countries they seek to help. Jake's nutshell analysis: the IMF and WB loan money to impoverished countries on the condition that they restructure their economies in such a way that it makes them more attractive to foreign investors. These "structural adjustments" usually involve the elimination of social programs, workers' rights, and environmental regulations. For more thorough criticisms, you can read the Anti-Capitalist Convergence's critique, and a more conservative argument from the anti-IMF/WB organization 50 Years Is Enough. But probably the best evidence that the IMF and WB are a bad idea is that Argentina, now currently facing economic armageddon, followed every IMF and WB recommendation to the letter.

Anyhow, large protests are planned against the IMF/WB for Sept. 25-29 in DC. But now the DC police are discussing legal manuevers to shut down the protests before they begin. Their rationale for this is a series of allegations (which are not backed up by evidence in the news article cited) that protesters plan acts of civil disobedience and vandalism. One bit of evidence is a page on an anarchist website about an "anarchist scavenger hunt" which would award points for acts like breaking a McDonald's window or hitting a CEO. The page's author, Infoshop.org webmaster Chuck0, says that the page was a joke. I'm inclined to believe him, as I don't see how the awarding of abstract "points" would really encourage an anarchist (or anyone else) to do get themselves into dangerous situations which could land them in jail.

Hard to say whether the police actually believe that these protests pose a threat to the city, or if they're simply hyping the danger so they can prevent the protests and save themselves the trouble of dealing with it. The former is simply sloppy police work: if you think someone's going to commit a crime, you search for evidence and arrest the prepetrator, you don't shut down the events where these crimes might take place. And the latter is an assault on free speech because policing a mass protest is such a pain in the ass: closing streets; setting up road blocks; making sure the protesters don't get violent; trudging around in heavy helmets and body armor all day, just so that a bunch of punk kids can yell about some obscure group of bureaucrats and call you a "pig"? Why bother when you can avoid all the trouble with a couple of white lies?

Posted by Jake at 06:39 PM

As a Washington area resident, I think it's safe to say that these protesters' message is long since lost. All anyone cares about in DC is, "will I be able to get to work on Friday?" By casting the protest as a traffic situation, the MPD has already effectively quashed the message that the protesters are trying to send. It is cynical to think that the MPD places a higher value on uninterrupted traffic flow than on the free speech and assembly rights of the protesters, but Washington residents have again and again indicated that they would abide any police action if it meant they could all drive their precious cars to their precious offices. No one in an official position anywhere is discussing the legality of these demonstrations. The MPD is simply pandering to people who would normally react with disgust to the contents of the cans of whup-ass that they plan to open on the Mobilization for Whatever. They are setting up the following conversation next Monday:

DC Resident: I can't believe you shoved a Jersey Barrier up that demonstrator's ass.
Police: Well, we did say that if they blocked the roads we'd take 'em out.
DCR: That's true. And I did get to work on time on Friday. Thanks, chief!
P: We're here to serve.
DCR: by the way, who's that driving a truck bomb right up to the front door of the Supreme Court?
P: son of a...! Wright! get those Jersey Barriers back in place NOW!

Posted by: Pad at September 23, 2002 08:47 AM

Dammit, I wrote a lengthy and intelligent response here, and then my computer fucked up and it's gone.

Summary: while many protest actions are aimed at political change through disrupting the status quo, I still think that a lot of actions are failures because the activists didn't bother thinking about what they were trying to achieve and whether or not their actions would accomplish that goal.

Posted by: Jake at September 23, 2002 11:36 AM
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Lying Media Bastards is both a radio show and website. The show airs Mondays 2-4pm PST on KillRadio.org, and couples excellent music with angry news commentary. And the website, well, you're looking at it.

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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

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Mission: Mongolia

Jake's first attempt at homemade Mongolican barbecue:


What went right: correctly guessing several key seasonings- lemon, ginger, soy, garlic, chili.

What went wrong: still missing some ingredients, and possibly had one wrong, rice vinegar. Way too much lemon and chili.

Result: not entirely edible.

Plan for future: try to get people at Great Khan's restaurant to tell me what's in the damn sauce.

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