Most of all, however, the revolution will not be allowed to interfere with a nice, pretty lawn. I admit, I never saw that one coming. If told me that politicians around America would choose "we need to protect that lawn" as their most insistent argument against prolonged public protest, the one requiring the most aggressive police intervention, I would never have believed you.
The Occupy Wall Street movement apparently has inadvertently (or, at this point, intentionally?) managed to stumble upon the one thing that is absolutely most intolerable to local government officials throughout the nation: protest all you want, but for the love of God don't camp. Who knew? For decades protesters have been holding up signs, marching down streets, singing songs, making giant puppets or what-have-you, but they never figured out that if they really wanted attention, all they had to do was sit their ass down on a sleeping bag and all the hellfire of the American political and law enforcement infrastructure would come down upon their heads.
It demonstrates, I think, just how viscerally uncomfortable governments are with any protest that is seen as seriously threatening to the status quo. As long as the protest is transient—that is, it goes away the next day, leaving nothing of itself behind but some full trash cans and discarded signs—it is fine. As long as it makes demands that are either decently in line with the status quo or so not in line with the status quo that they have zero chance of altering a political outcome, it's also fine. But staying overnight somewhere suggests a commitment to your cause that truly, truly unnerves politicians. It implies that you might still be there tomorrow, and the next day, and that is when the boundaries of free speech seem to find themselves well and truly tested.
The Occupy movement is seen as making an outrageous demand to alter the status quo by reducing the advantages wealthy Americans and corporate America have constantly been given by government, which is an unspeakable sin right there, and especially unspeakable because it would be quite simple to accomplish, practically speaking. A few laws repealed, a few laws reinstated, and you're there. But Occupy compounds the sin with the audacity of apparently meaning it. If they just left after a while it would be fine, but staying, day after day? That smacks a bit too much of a direct challenge to authority, and that is where local and state political leaders begin to get very, very antsy.
Top Comments for today are here.