Friday, May 16, 2008
Oh, if only it were over something other than the right to drink lots of beer
The details are still being sorted out about the riot that occurred last night on Fountain Ave.
What's clear is that parties in several houses spilled into the street. Students were intoxicated. Wes Public Safety tried to clear the street, and in failing to do so, called in Middletown Police. The students taunted the police. The police moved in, and all hell broke loose. Bottles thrown, pepper gas dispersed. Handcuffs. Tasers. Resistance. Arrests.
To the extent that it happened, there is, of course, no excuse for the stupidity of students nor for any aggressive brutality of law enforcement agents.
Today, students are indignant.
I'm not certain to what extent they are entitled to their anger.
This was a Beastie Boys protest. Do any of us really care about fighting for the right to party?
If this was about a free speech issue, about the right to protest freely, about an attempt to silent an anti-war or anti-government march, then I'd be standing right there next to the students in front of town hall.
I know the semester's over, but the library's still open. Read your history. There is heroism in the protests in Birmingham, the free speech riots at Berkeley, the demonstrations at the Democratic Convention in 1968, because something larger was at stake.
This melee at Wesleyan was about the right to get as drunk as possible, and still be able to walk, and then exercise some privileged drunken macho bravado (I thought Wes students might consider themselves above the antics that occur at State universities) in the face of agents of the law, some of whom have their own issues with macho bravado, and some of who are simply trying to do their job.
Any advocate of civil disobedience will tell you, if you break the law you can expect to be arrested. If you consider yourself to be in the right morally and ethically, then you can use the arrest to demonstrate your differences with the law, and perhaps change that law.
If you only want the right to be drunk and disorderly, well, you may see the inside of more than one cell in your life, and never have moved society forward one iota.