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The Way It Is

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Mic check...MIC CHECK!

There are only two choices...THERE ARE ONLY TWO CHOICES!

A police state in which...A POLICE STATE IN WHICH!

All dissent is suppressed...ALL DISSENT IS SUPPRESSED!

Or rigidly controlled...OR RIDGIDLY CONTROLLED!

Or a society where...OR A SOCIETY WHERE!

Law is responsive...LAW IS RESPONSIVE!

To human needs...TO HUMAN NEEDS!

William O. Douglas...WILLIAM O. DOUGLAS!

Back in the day a friend of ours, Patrick, the maintenance supervisor of our local art museum, was getting it from all sides. Docents, office workers, even patrons were complaining that a nest of starlings had occupied an exterior wall of the attic of the century-old structure. The pressure was mounting with the incessant cheeping. The museum director wanted them gone.

What's a guy supposed to do anyway? He loved his job, he was the man, and working for the city had its perks, a real future. So the chicks would soon be history...maybe tomorrow, maybe.

Long story short, Patrick chose to throw in his lot with the fledglings. He ignored direct orders, the grumblings of staff, censure, or worse. And why"because the man simply couldn't ignore the daily entreaty from another fledgling, his 6-year-old daughter: "What did you do at work today, daddy?"

"What was I supposed to tell her, that I whacked a nest of baby birds?"

How do suppose the NYPD or Seattle's finest answer that same question this week as they walk through their own front doors?

As the news accounts were coming in on Wednesday of excessive force being used against Occupy Seattle demonstrators, I thought about Patrick. If he was wearing a badge and helmet, facing a group of kettled protesters, could he have pepper-sprayed a priest, a 10-year-old, a grandmother? Seriously?

"Daddy had no choice, kiddo. The demonstrators were chanting on Pine St."

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The author of this piece is Vietnam Veteran and former Naval Aviator Gene Marx. He has served as a member of the Veterans For Peace Membership Committee and was the past Secretary of the VFP National Board of Directors. He lives in Bellingham, (more...)

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