Much has been made in the mainstream media (i.e., the large scale commercial media) about the “disgraceful” disruption of the opening of the 2010 Olympic torch relay by a motley collage of anarchist low life “professional protesters.” Calls for jail sentences bounced around the pages of Canwest Global like so many ping pong balls gone wild.
Reporters were unable to refrain from seizing the anticipated rhetorical high ground to condemn how the same nihilist rabble crushed the dreams of a 17-year old torch bearer with cerebral palsy and cruelly disappointed small children happily waiting for their heroes to triumphantly run past. Not least, the potty-mouthed demonstrators used the f-bomb to shock Victorian grandmothers and toddlers alike…and heavens, even did so more than once!
Does this perfidy ever end? No, it appears not since the same Goths and Vandals were willing to kill police horses with the surreptitious placement of marbles on the streets, thus endangering both the beasts and their masters.
In the aftermath of Victoria, one provincial Liberal party MLA was moved enough by the potential mayhem to use the word “terrorist” to describe the perpetrators of the alleged outrage. Lions and tigers and bears (and anarchists), oh my!
Where, or where, to start dismantling this wheel barrow of horse manure?
We can begin with the marbles since this got a significant portion of the media scrutiny. Did it happen? Yes. Who did it? No one knows. But we do know this: It was the protesters on the scene who were picking the marbles up, some of whom may have been on the receiving end of a horse-borne riot squad charge, not one of the most pleasant experiences in the world. I saw one such charge up close and personal in Seattle 10 years ago and had to dodge down an alley with my nine year old son to keep from being run over. Not fun.
Next, yes, the f-word was said — repeatedly — but one has to assume the good burghers of Victoria, young and old alike, had heard it before. The kid with the disorder who couldn’t run? He ran the next day in Nanaimo; hence, no permanent psychic scars.
Finally, what on earth is a professional protester and how would one know one? Where does their illusory funding come from now that the Soviet Union is gone (or even before for that matter)? Can there really, truly be anyone out there who believes that there exist protesters who go from city to city just to demonstrate as some sort of lunatic day job? The idea is just outright dumb…and rapidly heading for dumber. (But there is a caveat to this, as I will show below).
Clearly some people will believe anything. After all, 64 per cent of those voting in the 2003 Vancouver Olympic plebiscite believed the late Jack Poole in his wildly imaginative assertion that hosting the 2010 Games would make money for the city and province. Scroll forward to last week’s Price, Waterhouse, Coopers report on the economic impact of the 2010 Games to see just how badly informed that subpopulation of Vancouverites actually was.
As the above suggests, much of the media hype was not only juvenile, it also managed to miss the main point: The true disrupters were not those out on the streets in Victoria protesting the torch, rather those who brought the Circus’ torch to town in the first place.
Think about it: The torch — originally a Nazi symbol for the 1936 Olympic Games — ran through much of downtown Victoria on a work day, closing streets left and right, interfering with people going to work or getting their kids to school, and blocking deliveries (and customers) for businesses. And all for what? So that the Olympic circus would have a happy send off as it made its way out of town to disrupt people across the country. I wonder if anyone has calculated the lost wages and productivity of a106 day relay of disruption.
Or how about this: During the period from mid January to the end of March 2010, that is between the beginning of the transportation/security street closures in Vancouver to the end of the Paralympics, all of the above — and more — will occur solely to enable those who want the unfettered “right to party” to celebrate the Games.
Vast areas of downtown Vancouver will be closed to any traffic at all; other routes will have “Olympic lanes” dedicated to the “Olympic family”, athletes, and the omnipresent security forces. What we will get with our party is a two month-long fun zone of absolute gridlock for those just trying to go about their daily lives. Do you own a small business that can’t afford a two month closure at all, let alone during a recession? Are you a salaried worker near a closed area and can’t afford to take vacation and fly away to warmer climes? Do you need to get your children to school or the doctor?
For all of you, tough beans, the Circus is coming to town and your only response is to party. Or maybe you can just sulk quietly at home; God forbid you should go out and protest.
So what’s the difference between the disruptions caused by Olympic protesters and those caused by the Olympics? How about this: One kind of disruption is sanctioned -even welcomed – by the government, the other not; one is designed to contest the utter infringement on our collective rights, the other to celebrate an event that has tried to put those same rights in the garbage; one creates a few hours of messy street democracy; the other creates two months of lost revenues and missed opportunities.
The real disrupters, the ones who do get paid to travel around the globe messing with peoples’ lives, are not those out on the streets trying to reclaim a small piece of the commons for the rest of us, but rather the masters of the Olympic circus itself.
If you want to put disrupters in jail, start with the real criminals.