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Protests are as American as it gets

Mac Gordon

Mac Gordon

America is a land conceived from protest. Surely we have not forgotten the fervor of those involved in the original Boston Tea Party, who tossed the Brits' tea into the harbor over high taxes and lack of legislative representation?

All that grew from that protest was a nation, this one, the land of the free.

Why, then, is there such outrage by elected officials over the Occupy Wall Street greed-and-inequality protest movement that began in New York's Wall Street District and has proliferated across the national landscape?

So long as the protesters aren't throwing rocks through windows in the financial districts or performing acts in the streets of an unsanitary variety, where is the rub? I have always been partial to a good protest, even during the era in which I served in Vietnam, when the nation was beset with political stinks on every corner.

One of the most memorable incidents of remonstrance I've been witness to was during a trip to England a few years ago. There, in front of Parliament offices and only a stone's throw from Buckingham Palace, a veteran dissident named Brian Haw and friends had camped in tents on green spaces and sidewalks for more than a decade in protest of his country's participation in the war against Iraq.

British lawmakers and Westminster and London city officials for many years tried numerous legal maneuvers to dislodge Haw, but to no avail. He died earlier this year of lung cancer, but Haw's movement still stirs in the British capital.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has softened his at-first complete lack of tolerance toward the protesters. Both of our leading political parties have attempted to attach some of the protesters to their side, although it's the Democrats who believe they are closest to the dissidents' hearts over issues of higher taxes for wealthier Americans and creating jobs for millions of unemployed people.

As I said, I've seen very few protests that I didn't agree with. In fact, I might found a movement over issues of my own making:

-- The NBA pro basketball season's first two weeks have been eliminated due to collective bargaining disagreements. Let's call for the entire season to be cut.

-- We need more rain annually in south Georgia. Can't we protest in front of the Weather Channel's headquarters?

-- Saggy pants? I say let's storm the Georgia state Capitol for a rigid law banning them, complete with a 20-year sentence on first offense and no parole. Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot. Legislating stupidity is unconstitutional.

-- Can't we reduce the U.S. Congress from 536 total members to no more than half that number? That way, we'd have a half-you-know-what Congress, rather than a complete do-nothing Congress.

-- Let's try to prohibit discussions of political candidates' religious preferences. But, then, what would the Republicans have to argue among themselves about?

-- How about protesting the new college football rule that takes points off the scoreboard for "excessive celebration?" Isn't it time to just play the games without referees at all?

--Someone is always protesting high gasoline prices. Oh, hush. Be glad there are no shortages.

Mac Gordon is a retired reporter who lives near Blakely and writes an occasional opinion column for The Albany Herald.