Occupy That Place Over There

It looks like the Occupy Wall Street protests are finally starting to wind down.  I must admit they lasted longer than I expected in some places.  GIven the relatively harmless nature of the event, I found a lot of people over-reacting to it.  My feelings about the OWS movement are basically split into two camps:

First, I wish everybody would just calm down.  We’re talking about a bunch of people camping out.  This isn’t a march or a riot.  They’re not blocking traffic or stealing babies.  They’re simply trying to express their frustration.  I’m just amazed at the level of hostility these people received just because they wanted to get heard.  If anything, I think the venomous reaction they drew actually prompted me to support them, if for no other reason than simply because I hate seeing people get picked on for no particular reason.  They looked like they were getting bullied and that sickened me. No wonder there’s so many thugs in the schools when all their parents are thugs as well.

Bottom line: They weren’t hurting anybody so let them camp out if they want to camp out.  Geez, lighten up!

But then, there’s the other side of the equation: protesting by committee simply does not work.  Based on the various interviews that took place, these protests drew everything from legitimate gripes to the tin-foil hat brigade.  I’d like to say that I agreed with the goals of the OWS, but frankly I was never really clear on what (if any) goals they actually had.  They don’t like rich people, ok check.  Got that much.  Beyond that, it was simply noise.

There are a lot of things to be done for the working poor, both in Canada and the US.  Pick two or three… put them on a piece of paper and get everybody to read it aloud in front of any news camera they see.  Raise minimum wage? Fine. Ban government handouts to corporations? Fine. Eliminate high income tax exemptions? Fine.  Heck, make it whatever you want but at least send a clear message.  If those Tea Party fanatics can find a way to send a clear message then surely the OWS could do it as well.  Stop trying to please everybody and focus on the battles you can actually WIN!

Bottom line: You’ll never get anything if you never ask for it first!

There’s no denying that OWS made for an interesting autumn this year.  It’s actually nice to see normal people being able to vent some spleen over the economic roller coaster we’ve been on the past few years.  But, I think both sides could have behaved better.  OWS opponents need to calm down.  Take an anger management class or two.  Better yet, pop a few valium and try to reduce the size of that swelled vein in your forehead.  OWS members, on the other hand, need to take a few public relations classes.  Make a plan and stick with it, because I guarantee that you don’t get anything in this world if you don’t learn to ask for it coherently.



October 31st is upon us, and once again all the little ghosts and goblins will be heading out soon to engage in their annual candy-gathering rituals.  Unfortunately, there are always people out there determined to leverage innocuous traditions for their own personal motives.

Jesus Ween is a non-denominational Christian group whose primary purpose seems to be old-fashioned religious conversion.  This gang, believe it or not, intend to hand out pocket bibles to your kids instead of candy.  By their logic, apparently, Halloween isn’t a Christian enough event, so they’re out to replace ghosts and goblins and witches with more religiously acceptable forms of entertainment.  Whatever that might be, I’ll leave to your imagination.  Admittedly, I’m an athiest so my opinion may be biased, but I’m of the opinion that Christianity has enough of its own holiday events around the calendar, so they can damn well leave Halloween alone.

Another group out to moralize Halloween is a student group at Ohio University called Students Teaching About Racism in Society (STARS).  Their campaign is centered around the argument that a lot of Halloween costumes are inherently racist.  Geisha costumes stereotype the Japanese.  Pocahontas costumes stereotype Native Americans.  You get the idea.  Basically, political correctness run amuck, as if toddlers are being bigots because they want to emulate their favourite Disney hero.  Maybe I’m a bit naive on this, but I doubt very much that a 6-yr old has a sophisticated level of racial bias such that they perceive a mean-spirited basis for dressing up as a character based in a different culture.

These groups, and others like them, hope to alter public perception to align with their personal values.  They are well within their rights to express their opinions, but why should those personal views necessitate change on the part of society as a whole?  Halloween is a social tradition that dates back hundreds of years.  If you don’t want to play along, then don’t play along.  Nobody is forcing you.  But, by the same token, don’t try to pressure others into playing by YOUR rules.  Let the children enjoy childhood while they still have it.  They have plenty of time to turn into adults.

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Everybody has something to say.  As a regular commentor on the Post and Globe websites, I meet people every day who have passionate opinions on issues confronting Canadians.  Unfortunately, newspaper sites are places to trade insults and parrot political rhetoric, not engage in meaningful dialogue.  I created Political Agnostic because I wanted to participate in that dialogue.  I’m going to try to post regularly on issues in the headlines, and I’d like to invite any readers out there to participate.

If you have something to say, I invite you to comment.  If you disagree with my opinion, I invite you to offer alternatives.  The only thing I ask is that you comment rationally and with respect.  The major political parties already have armies of bloggers defending them.  This blog is for me and others like me: people who don’t see things simply in black and white… or Liberal Red and Conservative Blue as the case may be.

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