F*ck the military, f*ck your flag, f*ck the police

A video from Occupy Dayton in which a protestor is shouting "F*ck the military, f*ck your flag, f*ck the police!" is going viral.

A video from Occupy Dayton in which a protestor is shouting  “F*ck the military, f*ck your flag, f*ck the police!” is going viral.

Big Government’s Publius notes that the organizers are hopping mad and threatening to sue . . . someone for libel over posting this. and notes that,

The case that Occupy Dayton relies on, Becker v. Toulmin, 165 Ohio St. 549 (1956), does not have any relevance here. The video merely publishes the activist’s own words, which he stated volubly and in public.

Furthermore, the activist depicted is involved in a matter of public concern, and therefore is a public figure for the purpose of Occupy Dayton. He would therefore have to meet a higher-in this case, impossible-standard of proof.

Neither he, nor Occupy Dayton, has a case.

Let’s grant that Occupy Dayton doesn’t have grounds for suing. Can we also grant that it’s silly to keep trotting out videos and photographs of individuals at a come one, come all protest and using them to demonstrate that the movement is unsavory? In a mass protest, you’re always going to have a fair number of yahoos–indeed, usually a disproportionate number of them–regardless of the cause.

Showing these signs and videos have a number of legitimate uses: Showing the wide-ranging “causes” that bring people out, which is useful in terms of discussing the coherence of the movement and difficulty in translating it into public policy. Countering protestors’ own image of what their rallies are like. Sheer comedic value. But they can’t be extrapolated to the movment itself, whether it’s a couple of yahoos with muskets at a Tea Party rally or a guy shouting anti-Semitic slogans at an Occupy event.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, US Politics, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Ben Wolf says:

      “F*ck the military, f*ck your flag, f*ck the police!

    Sounda like the thinking of a man who believes in limited government and is suspicious of government power. So why would anyone on the right be bothered by this?

  2. The left enjoyed picking out one or two signs at a Tea Party rally and painting them as representative of the movement as a whole. What’s the saying? Turnabout is fair play.

  3. john personna says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Turnabout is fair play.

    If you are playing that “game” why not lead with the knife attack?

  4. john personna says:

    But they can’t be extrapolated to the movment itself, whether it’s a couple of yahoos with muskets at a Tea Party rally or a guy shouting anti-Semitic slogans at an Occupy event.

    I get the spirit of that, but as a reader I kind of expect some clipping at OWS from the edges each morning. It is much less likely that I’ll find a post relating OWS to a decline in family income or total wages here.

  5. JKB says:

    Well, iti isn’t the one sign but the constant stream of signs and rhetoric that is tolerated. But still, the left has continued to try to impose the racist meme on the Tea Party, even Nancy Pelosi lead with it on one of the new programs.

    But you are correct, we should concentrate on getting their core message out. Their desire to overthrow capitalism, dispose of private property (as long as it’s not their private property), and increase the control of government over our daily lives. But then they don’t hold a sign to that effect, you have to look at their words and actions.

  6. john personna says:

    I guess this is the substantive road not taken:

    Poll: 1/3 of U.S. supports Wall Street protests

    And I guess the interesting thing is that while support for OWS is in the minority, general frustration levels are way up:

    More generally, many more Americans – 58 percent – say they are furious about the country’s politics than did in January, when 49 percent said they felt that way. What’s more, nearly 9 in 10 say they are frustrated with politics and nearly the same say they are disappointed, findings that suggest people are deeply resentful of the political bickering over such basic government responsibilities as passing a federal budget and raising the nation’s debt limit.

  7. How can 1/3 of Americans support a movement that doesn’t know what it stands for and cannot come up with a single coherent policy proposal?

  8. john personna says:

    @JKB:

    Good Lord, we must verge on true revolution if 37% of Americans are ready to “overthrow capitalism, dispose of private property (as long as it’s not their private property), and increase the control of government over our daily lives.”

  9. john personna says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    How can 1/3 of Americans support a movement that doesn’t know what it stands for and cannot come up with a single coherent policy proposal?

    How, indeed. Do you suppose it has anything to do with the decline in middle class income and wages I linked to above?

    (I think that given our economic problems, and our general level of frustration with government, 37% are just fine with some rabble-rousing. If it stays non-violent, and within accepted norms of civil disobedience.)

  10. So basically you’re saying that people are pi$$ed off because the economy stinks?

    Not news, we’ve known that one for awhile now.

    And, as I’ve been saying for weeks, camping in a park and engaging in the nightly drum circle isn’t going to do anything to solve any of those problems. Before long, the people who actually work every day for a living will figure that out.

  11. john personna says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Obviously you are not in the 37%.

    And while 37% is by no means a majority, it is a significant voice, one that I think any small-d democrat has to acknowledge as having a place in national discourse.

  12. john personna says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    BTW, I think it is very much a mistake to treat the economy, jobs, and OWS as separate issues.

    OWS is indeed one segment’s response to those (and related) issues.

  13. John,

    I consider myself plenty pi$$ed off about politics and government. I don’t consider the people in OWS representative me at all.

  14. john personna says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I’m pretty sure we got that 😉

  15. Kylopod says:

    >But still, the left has continued to try to impose the racist meme on the Tea Party

    The racist meme wasn’t just based on individual signs at TP rallies (an argument I always found unconvincing) but also on what some actual leaders in the movement were saying. For example, remember when Tea Party Express spokesman Mark Williams called the president an “Indonesian Muslim welfare thug”?

  16. Just nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    “Can we also grant that it’s silly to keep trotting out videos and photographs of individuals at a come one, come all protest and using them to demonstrate that the movement is unsavory? ”

    Well, I suppose we could, but where would we go to get our ad hominem attacks against our enemies. What would Doug have to say about this event if he didn’t have his “camping out and drumming all night” meme? Where would you get the focus for your “I just don’t get this” theme? We need (actually YOU need) the whackos to make the reality that you want to construct. Sure, today Doug has added the idea that while two wrongs don’t make a right, they do acheive kharmic balance, but how many ideas like that can you expect him to think through well enough to get them out coherently?

    Trust me, granting what you suggest above is not where you really want to go.

  17. john personna says:

    @Kylopod:

    It is true that some of those racist signs were not just held by “some guy,” but rather by early organizers who then had to be ejected. We’ve had some revisionism on Mark Williams, but this story shows him on mike, addressing the crowd.

    If OWS had to oust someone it would be a scandal of similar scale.

  18. de stijl says:

    @john personna:

    If you are playing that “game” why not lead with the knife attack?

    Doesn’t fit the narrative.

  19. Just nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Kylopod: Citing Mark Williams is still an ad hominem attack as he may only be an individual and not representative of the movement. Left or right, we need the whack jobs.

  20. john personna says:

    Wow, THIS is interesting:

    The survey’s historical data shows that tea party support peaked at 31 percent around the time of the 2010 elections, but has since declined to just 18 percent.

  21. James Joyner says:

    @Just nutha ig’rant cracker: Doug’s more hostile to OWS than I am, mostly because he’s focusing on the protest itself whereas I’m focusing on the grievances behind it. But we agree that the “occupy” part of the protests themselves are annoying and likely counterproductive.

    And I moved past “I don’t get this” weeks ago. I’m now trying to figure out whether and how the legitimate grievances and sense of frustration behind OWS gets translated into public policy.

  22. john personna says:

    This YA novel might help identify the fear:

    In Scored, the American middle class is no more, wiped out by economic catastrophe. Social entrepreneurs bent on restoring class mobility have established “scoring,” filling whole towns with spy-eyes that watch kids’ every move, publicly assigning aggregate scores to their behavior according to secret, self-modifying algorithms. The top-scoring kids get full ride scholarships to top universities, and are on their way to social mobility. Bottom scorers are frozen out entirely, while those a little farther up are able to find work in the military.

  23. Kylopod says:

    >Citing Mark Williams is still an ad hominem attack as he may only be an individual and not representative of the movement.

    He is not just an individual but was the spokesman for one of the largest and most well-funded Tea Party organizations. Granted, that organization did eventually sack him due to one of his racially inflammatory remarks (though several months after the “welfare thug” quote), and they deserve credit for that, but citing him is certainly fair game, and not in the same category as pointing to miscellaneous signs at rallies.

  24. de stijl says:

    @James Joyner:

    But we agree that the “occupy” part of the protests themselves are annoying and likely counterproductive.

    With the “occupy” part of the protest (and I will cede the point that they are kinda annoying) the grievances don’t enter the national conversation in any meaningful way. Zero media attention.

    We would not be talking about this stuff without the hippies in the park.

  25. JKB says:

    @john personna: Good Lord, we must verge on true revolution if 37% of Americans …

    Do you truly believe those 37% understand the real goal of the Occupy protests? Or could they be as James is, sympathetic to the frustration and willing to turn a blind eye to the underlying theme? And how many will remain in support once the plundering moves off the 1% to say the 5% or 20%?

    Personally, I hope they stick it out. The longer this little camp out happens the greater the possibility that the true nature will emerge. Even without that, it is amusing to watch animal farm acted out in a public experiment.

  26. john personna says:

    @JKB:

    I think you are doing exactly what James warns against. You are picking fringe players and making them the movement, rather than figuring out what the 37% (the real [phenomenon]) are thinking.

    There is an old saying that you only lead as long as people follow.

    If people aren’t following your “overthrow capitalism, dispose of private property” then that is not real.

  27. michael reynolds says:

    A point I always made when it was the TP’ers taking the heat: people take the temperature of the room. A racist sign shows up at a TP rally, or a crazy rant shows up at an OWS rally because those individuals have judged them to be appropriate to the room. I think those temperature-takings tend more often than not to be accurate.

    One of the down sides of incoherence and a lack of message discipline, is that the fringes can’t be as easily dismissed as fringes. OWS needs to evolve now. The crowd-sourcing needs to cohere.

  28. JKB says:

    @john personna: You are picking fringe players and making them the movement, …

    Well, when they are given the soapbox and eagerly repeated by the People’s PA system it is hard to consider them fringe players. Especially since anti-capitalism has been the driving theme since the first weekend of the protest.

  29. Tsar Nicholas says:

    When I saw this headline for a split second I thought it must have been a quote from Jim McDermott, James Moran, Barbara Lee, or from some other elected Democrat politician. Seriously.

    In any event, it’s not surprising there are anti-American wingnuts at these nonsensical “protests.” Misery loves company.

  30. Modulo Myself says:

    Yes, it’s moronic to go off on the police and military and the flag. But really–our country’s militarism and its police state are nauseating grotesques. Everything said in its defense is as hundred times as moronic and vile as this guy may seem to be.

  31. matt says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Dude at the Tea party rallies I attended in Texas there were FAR more then just one or two racist signs. Hell there was a full on racist comic book being handed out and racist fake money. I was unable to score a comic book cause they ran out before I figured out who had them but I still have the Obama “welfare buck” complete with minstrel image, fried chicken and watermelon. If you’re not aware of what I’m talking about then do a quick google search for “tea party comix”. Of course that doesn’t even touch on the violent rhetoric or signs that were present. Looking back I should of bought a disposable camera but frankly I never expected it to be so nutty..

  32. An Interested Party says:

    …even Nancy Pelosi lead with it on one of the new programs.

    No, actually, she didn’t…nice try, though…

    Even without that, it is amusing to watch animal farm acted out in a public experiment.

    You’re confused…look to the U.S. Capitol building to see that acted out…

  33. Ben Wolf says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    So basically you’re saying that people are pi$$ed off because the economy stinks?

    No, he’s saying that people are pissed off because policy choices have put us where we are. As you’ve been told about two thousand times.

  34. Davebo says:

    How can 1/3 of Americans support a movement that doesn’t know what it stands for and cannot come up with a single coherent policy proposal?

    Indeed, a daunting question for a Libertarian.