“Fairness to bankers may not seem like the most pressing issue on the justice agenda. But in addition to being unfair, conflating actual crooks and the innocent affluent makes it hard to claim that raising their taxes isn’t punishment for some form of misbehavior. Taxes are not a punishment; they are a source of necessary revenue. But if you tie them to the financial scandal, they sound pretty punitive.”
I don’t agree with everything in this Bloomberg op-ed by Michael Kinsley, but I do think this is a very valid point about the problem with the rhetoric of the left right now. We don’t tax people because they are bad people who deserve to be taxed; we tax them because they are people who need to contribute their share.
There seems to be some confusion regarding appropriate and inappropriate use of weapons on non-violent protestors. Let’s clear up three things.
Non-violence is not the same as non-forceful or legal. A protester sitting in a sidewalk in violation of the law and in direct contravention of a police order is not a violent protester. A protest blocking a sidewalk or building may be a forceful protest, but is still not a violent protest.
Non-lethal weapons are still weapons. They’re designed to hurt people. One of the serious dangers with a rise of non-lethal weapons is that they are used punitively or with an intent to compel compliance with non-emergency orders. Where a cop might hesitate to shoot a row of students sitting on a sidewalk showing no apparent signs of aggression, apparently the same hesitation does not apply to casually spraying them with pepper spray. Use of weapons is violence.
Using violence to clear a non-violent protest in a non-emergency situation is an absurd abuse of force. I don’t mind the police showing up to clear a protest that is deliberately obstructing people from exercising their rights to get where they need to be. I don’t mind them wearing riot gear when they’re obviously concerned about a riot. I don’t even mind them showing up with over-whelming force. That’s another good way to avoid a riot. But look at what happened. You’ve got a police officer spraying pepper spray on a group of students who are just sitting on a sidewalk. There was no emergency need to clear that sidewalk. Anybody could simply have walked around the protestors. If the protestors had refused to move after appropriate warning was given, the police simply could have recorded the protests, issued citations, and pressed trespassing charges. It’s not difficult to identify who is in the pictures—and we have an entire judicial process we could clog with protestors … if it were important enough to bother with. This isn’t a riot. These are students sitting on a sidewalk. Nobody needs to get hurt.
I have plenty of sarcastic things to say about Occupy Wall Street. I’m old. I’m cranky. I want them off my lawn. But this is beyond the pale. There should be a full investigation. Officers should be disciplined, dismissed, and likely charged with assault. I want some very specific answers on what happened there and why. Why violently disperse a protest rather than, say, walk around it?
And I think U.C. Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi will probably need to step down.