Tuesday, April 24, 2007
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.