Antipodal Responses to Authority

photo by zigazou76

Recall this from Kropotkin:

throughout the history of our civilization, two traditions, two opposing tendencies have confronted each other: the Roman and the Popular; the imperial and the federalist; the authoritarian and the libertarian.

Now, regarding a local protest of a recruiting visit at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business by a representative of J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, a news item titled, “IU warns Occupy protesters against disrupting classes again” (cue ominous music):

“When does free speech go too far?” asked Clay Nedelka, a graduate student whose class ended after 15 minutes because of the shouting in the hallway. “What good does it do when you disrupt our school, our learning like that?”

A speaker who drove from Indianapolis had to reschedule his presentation, he said.

“They wasted our time,” Nedelka said. “We couldn’t hear a thing thanks to the screaming outside our classroom door. I told them, ‘We’re trying to get an education, and you’re ruining it.’”

IU supports free speech and peaceful protest, said spokesman Mark Land, but won’t tolerate class disruption in student facilities. University officials plan to work closely with the IUPD and Kelley School to protect everyone’s safety during future recruiting events, he said.

“When protests start to get in the way of the IU’s educational mission — or hinder functions in the case of last night — we’re going to step in,” he said. “Students have the right to attend class and campus events without being disrupted.”

From a Letter to the Editor by a student at IU concerning the same, “Our right to protest“:

I would hope the Kelley School would be able to tolerate and uphold dissenting voices. While a student at Kelley School, I was taught much about group process, including how to work with each other when there is disagreement. The Kelley School did not uphold these teachings as it is clear they were threatened by this nonviolent protest.

And another Letter, by a local resident, again, concerning the same, “Dropped charges“:

I am amazed the charges were dropped against the five people who were arrested in the demonstration at the business school? If you commit a crime, you should have some penalty.

The prosecutor said he doesn’t want to waste resources on this crime. Well, I say that just gives people more reason to commit these small but burdensome crimes, if they know the charges will be dropped….

If someone wants to express their freedoms that is great, but don’t infringe on others, and, if they do, support our law enforcement officers instead of hanging them out to dry.

From a “School Diary” column published on the same day as the above letter but not on the IU protest–rather the UC Davis protests, “Treatment of protesters changes view of police”:

The public’s fear of officers and their power is plain in actions such as these.

My understanding of this anxiety came when I read about the outrage that erupted at UC Davis in California after police officers doused peaceful Occupy protesters sitting on the campus with pepper spray. I’ve caught wind of the now-national outrage sparked by chilling images and videos of the officers releasing massive clouds of the orange spray directly into the activists’ faces.

Despite cries of pain and terror from both the protesters and the gathering crowd, the officers were relentless — a stomach-churning sight.

In later interviews, officers involved explained they felt trapped by the protesters. They felt threatened.

The officers held weapons, the protesters held each other’s hands.

Due to the brutality of the means by which police officers seek their perception of peace and order, as exemplified at UC Davis, the public’s trust in their ability to protect is destroyed.

Rather than being esteemed and trusted as protectors, police officers are feared as punishers.

And from a recent Editorial Board regarding “heightened” security measures for our local elementary, middle and secondary schools:

…a new entry system [is] to be implemented at all 14 of the corporation’s elementary schools, all three middle schools and New Tech High School before the 2012-2013 school year

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. Visitors to those schools will be required to be “buzzed in” through locked doors after being viewed on camera by school personnel.

Cameras, as you must know, are instruments of power and control.  The eye must see all.  Cameras and “buzz-ins” do not protect us.  They protect “them”.  These nifty unmanned killing machines have video surveillance as one of their functions too, “Of Thee I Sing !

I need to be clear that I don’t want to impugn what may be a real response to a fear as “evil” in its intent.  Rather, its effects.  Operating out of fear moves us from school surveillance to drone surveillance.  It’s an easy road that we will all be forced to travel.

Which of the above seem “Roman” and which “Popular”?


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