Posted: 27 Jun 2004
This summer will present Americans with at least two opportunities to unite and express their disgust with, or support for, the current political state in our country. I'm specifically talking about the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention.
Now, I hope you're all aware of your right to peaceful assembly, which is guaranteed to you by the Bill of Rights (aka the Stupid Liberal Pussy Contract). So when the cops in riot gear come charging, spraying mace, chucking tear-gas canisters, and firing rubber bullets at you, calmly remind them of your rights.
As someone who has participated in protests myself, I'd like to offer a bit of advice to anyone considering taking it to the streets of New York or Boston.
1. Dress like a normal human being. I just know that we're going to see a bunch of idiots dressed like Death, or a giant doughnut, or something else that makes no sense. I have watched a few documentaries about the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, and I've never seen vintage photos of people dressed as "The Paramecium of Intolerance." Do you want people to take you seriously? Remember, the San Diego Chicken may catch your eye, but nobody wants to hear his thoughts on campaign finance reform. I remember running late for a protest once and asking a man dressed as what I can only describe as a combination dinosaur/tuba for directions. Tubasaurus just stared at me, as if I were the lunatic.
2. Bring water, drink it, do not spray it on police. Seriously, what the hell is the point of that? "Ha-ha, pig, now you're slightly damp!" The vast majority of our police are good people, but understand that in this situation, they may be more than a bit high-strung. That's no excuse for police brutality, but you need to understand that anything can happen. You don't want them to come down too hard on you. Stand up for your rights but don't be a douche and don't pick fights with someone who could obviously kick your ass.
3. Study up first. So maybe you know that you're angry. Do you know why? You run the risk of being asked about your beliefs, maybe by the media, maybe just by other protesters, or even people just passing by. You don't want to look like an idiot. Try and be articulate; no stammering and mumbling half-assed answers like "It totally blows that I'm old enough to go off and die but I can't buy beer. Plus, like, weed and prostitution should totally be legal."
4. Know where the medics are and stay close. In fact, someone in your group should have a first aid kit of some kind. Make sure -- even if it's just an icepack, some band-aids, and peroxide.
5. Always have an escape route. Now remember, the Secret Service is likely to be present at both of these events, so pretty much every inch of these cities is going to be guarded. That doesn't mean you can't have a reasonable escape route when shit gets out of hand (and believe me, it will). This is another case where dressing like a normal person (you know what they look like, give it a shot) will help you blend into the crowd at the right time.
So I hope that helps you out a little. Protesting is not only a fun way to express your opinion and a great way to meet women who believe in free love, it's an important part of our political system. No bullshit, I'm serious. Get out there and do your part.