Monday, October 24, 2011

The Occupiers and the Loss of Neutral Space

What happened to the idea of neutral space - places that we all occupy that are free of politics?

Over the weekend I went to a comic book and media convention. During a Q&A session with an actor, someone asked him what sign he would hold at an Occupy event. Another person identified himself as a member of the Green Party and asked what the actor thought about Republican cuts to PBS? Several other people were wearing anti- SB5 buttons (SB5 is the Ohio bill that strips union of some of their power).

Naturally, no one asked any conservative or libertarian questions or identified themselves as such. This is ironic at a comic book convention since superheroes have a very libertarian view of government. Regardless, this seems out of place.

I feel the same way when politics enter comic books themselves. A couple of years ago a black comic book character made a disparaging remark about a Tea Party rally.

Part of our social contract should include a clause that regular people can go about their regular lives without being involved in politics. There has always been some bending of this since yard signs are a traditional campaign tactic. But public spaces, places owned by the people should not be used to reflect the views of a subset. This is also true for public spaces that the public needs to use but are privately owned.

But, the purpose of the Occupy movement is to occupy public spaces. Granted the park they are occupying in New York is private but their drums carry beyond the park limits. In other cities the Occupiers have set up camp on public space.

This didn't start with the Occupiers in September. Union protestors in Madison Wisconsin spent weeks camped in the state house.

The point is to bombard people with the Occupiers' message 24 hours a day. This gives the impression that the Occupy movement is larger than it really is.

This is not totally one-sided. Two years ago the Tea Party took their protests to town hall meetings. The difference is that town hall meetings are meant to be political.

A return to civility would be nice but I don't expect it. With a failing economy and the need for long-term changes to entitlements, I expect things to keep getting worse.

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