Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Who Does Not Consent?

As noted briefly in Sunday's Eureka Reporter, there was an event called "We Do Not Consent" held on the Humboldt State University campus Monday night. One of the HSU student organizers did a good job of editing together some BBC and other news footage with some music and spoken word over it. He projected it onto a big movie screen. It was intensely somber and perhaps not the best way to begin the event. The Raging Grannies sang a few songs after that which changed the mood some.

There were a few speakers at this point with an audience of about 35 people. I didn't catch the name of the first speaker but I got the feeling she might be on the HSU faculty. She was promoting "shave your head for peace" and had shears for anyone ready to show solidarity. Larry Hourany then discussed the imperative of impeachment, apparently unaware that less than 24 hours later Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) would file articles of impeachment (.pdf) against Cheney. Robin spoke next. He has no computer access but passed out photocopies of a very detailed hand-written chart showing a comparison of 20 positions taken or not taken by 10 different war related bills in Congress.

I was the last speaker (listen - mp3) in front of the "audience." When I finished we moved into one big circle and kept the dialog going until 10pm. I tried to emphasize that We Do Not Consent is a great message and to make it work I suggest we identify ways to actually withdraw our consent. A student in the front muttered "passive consent" and I knew it was a phrase I would remember and use. To everything we simply accept we are giving passive consent. When we say We Do Not Consent it has to mean THIS IS NOT HAPPENING UNLESS WE SAY IT IS. We talked about preventing candidates from taking office after a bogus election, tax resistance, boycotting businesses that advertise on TV, and community currency. My aim was not to say these are the things we must do, but rather to offer an approach to choosing smart actions. I encouraged everyone to bring these things up for discussion in small groups. Later, one of the students in the circle thanked me specifically for that.

Throughout the time in the circle people brought up many different feelings and issues. There wasn't a real moderator or facilitator so the dialog didn't stay very focused. I heard a lot of frustration at wanting to do whatever would work but not knowing what that would be. Perhaps that is what made this group receptive to my suggestions, which also included using language from the Constitution and Declaration of Independence as much as possible, and also speaking in terms of the oath of office taken by all elected officials to protect and defend the Constitution. We need to make it politically untenable to support the status quo. I mean, who will stand up and say they DO consent to secret vote counting or torture or jail without charges at the whim of one man? Let's not allow anybody to maintain that indefensible position by going unchallenged.

I had another idea hours after the event, which is a video project showing snippets of maybe 5 to 15 seconds with one person after another saying "We Do Not Consent." Perhaps there could be different sequences that speak to different issues. Also, a website could show this ever growing collection of people speaking out. Activists everywhere could copy this and we could collectively build a massive voice for a unified message. As we identify and engage various means of withdrawing Consent and withholding cooperation, people will be emboldened to participate by realizing how many people are standing together.

There will be a rally this Saturday at the Eureka Courthouse starting at noon. I'll be speaking again, so come say hello.


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We Do Not Consent, Volume 1 (left) and Volume 2 (right), feature essays from Dave Berman's previous blogs, GuvWurld and We Do Not Consent, respectively. Click the covers for FREE e-book versions (.pdf). As of April 2010, paperbacks are temporarily out of print. Click here for the author's bio.

Back Page Quotes

"Give a damn about the world you live in? Give a damn about what you and I both know is one of the most shameful and destructive periods in American history? If so, do something about it. You can start by reading We Do Not Consent."

— Brad Friedman, Creator/Editor, BradBlog.com; Co-Founder, VelvetRevolution.us

"If in the future we have vital elections, the "no basis for confidence" formulation that GuvWurld is popularizing will have been a historically important development. This is true because by implicitly insisting on verification and checks and balances instead of faith or trust in elections officials or machines as a basis for legitimacy, it encourages healthy transparent elections. It’s also rare that a political formulation approaches scientific certainty, but this formulation is backed up by scientific principles that teach that if you can’t repeat something (such as an election) and verify it by independent means, it doesn’t exist within the realm of what science will accept as established or proven truth."

— Paul Lehto, Attorney at Law, Everett, WA

"Dave Berman has been candid and confrontational in challenging all of us to be "ruthlessly honest" in answering his question, "What would be better?" He encourages us to build consensus definitions of "better," and to match our words with actions every day, even if we do only "the least we can do." Cumulatively and collectively, our actions will bring truth to light."

— Nezzie Wade, Sociology Professor, Humboldt State University and College of the Redwoods

"Dave Berman's work is quietly brilliant and powerfully utilitarian. His Voter Confidence Resolution provides a fine, flexible tool whereby any community can reclaim and affirm a right relation to its franchise as a community of voters."

— Elizabeth Ferrari, San Francisco, Green Party of California

"This is an important collection of essays with a strong unitary theme: if you can't prove that you were elected, we can't take you seriously as elected officials. Simple, logical, comprehensive. 'Management' (aka, the 'powers that be') needs to get the message. 'The machines' are not legitimizers, they're an artful dodge and a path to deception. We've had enough...and we most certainly DO NOT consent."

— Michael Collins covers the election fraud beat for "Scoop" Independent Media

"What's special about this book (and it fits because there's nothing more fundamental to Democracy than our vote) is the raising of consciousness. Someone recognizing they have no basis for trusting elections may well ask what else is being taken for granted."

— Eddie Ajamian, Los Angeles, CA

"I urge everyone to read "We Do Not Consent", and distribute it as widely as possible."

— B Robert Franza MD, author of We the People ... Have No Clothes: A Pamphlet for every American