The failed citizens
November 22, 2011 1 Comment
With the exploits of the pepper spray cop, UC Davis is now thrust into the media spotlight. While everyone is angry at how the administration and its police have treated the students, no one seems to be angry at how society has failed to make them into decent citizens.
Their cause could be the most noble of causes, but the protest movement at Davis has paralleled and now in fact merged with the morally and effectually bankrupt Occupy movement. The tents first popped up on the quad last Thursday night, and on Monday they re-emerged, scores of them.
Reporters have widely documented the headaches that come with these Occupy camps, namely sanitation, property crimes, and violence. Recently, authorities were faced with removing 200 pounds of human waste from the Santa Cruz Occupy encampment, and other sites have spawned rats, hookworm, and scabies. I recalled this today as I walked by a pair of port-a-potties on the edge of the UCD quad, supplied by Lord-knows-who.
I’ve also wondered, given the reported rapes at other Occupy sites, whether the campus Women’s center would ever break the sacred bond of “solidarity” to inveigh against the squatter village. But with the pepper spray outrage so fresh, it seems to me the weight of visceral outrage is too strong a tailwind for such a reasonable course to prevail.
But more disturbing than the safety and health concerns is the occupiers’ inherent disregard for others’ property, time, and resources. Whether they occupy the administration building, the library, or the grassy quad, they force the university to spend extra dollars paying employees to keep the lights on and otherwise look after them. When law enforcement from adjacent jurisdictions are called in, taxpayers take an additional hit. I wonder if the poli sci majors out there would ever suppose they are playing out the tragedy of the commons. Everyone suffers when occupiers break the rules to abuse public spaces and public resources. They preclude others from the use of those spaces, and at the end of it all, someone has to pick up the tab.
On top of this, protesters fail their fellow citizens with their decibels of anger. Occupiers are well-known for saying they want to “start a dialog,” but its kind of hard to have a conversation with a human microphone. Pithy mantras and signage abound, but the idea that a hopped up crowd is the best way to facilitate a substantive, calm, and rational discourse is a delusion.
Speaking of delusion, what good do protesters think they are doing by adopting socialist revolutionary modalities? They hold “general assemblies” like they were on the ramparts of the Paris Commune or were maybe a more effective incarnation of the UN. And this upcoming Monday will be a “general strike,” reminiscent again of the tools by which European citizens secure the economic mediocrity of their welfare states. Amazingly, UCD occupiers even considered whether to “declare campus as an autonomous sanctuary space based on international historic model.” I wonder how many students are aware of how all of twentieth century history testifies to the failure of this kind of business.
At last, its interesting to note how protesters and occupiers never admit to any wrongdoing. While large crowds of people are generally prone to interlopers, chaos, and emotional firestorms, occupiers would have us believe they are always decent, always innocent, and always right. Their public relations strain our credulity.
Hopefully the UC Davis campus will soon regain an administration and police force with some moral currency, so they can sweep away the encampment, this time cleanly and non-offensively. That will surely save us from great troubles down the road.