A mug’s game: when activists are urged to take “the high road” | Street Jazz

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A mug’s game: when activists are urged to take “the high road”

Posted By on Thu, Sep 23, 2010 at 2:16 PM

It’s always sort of amazing what we find of value when it occurs in foreign lands and we decry when it happens here on our own shores.

Recently a member of one of Fayetteville’s committees wrote a letter in which he took several activists and writers in the community (myself included) for the way they went about their business, writing that he would delete all emails on a list-serv from the individuals in question until they began to take “the high road.”

Of course, this begs the question - if you don’t read people’s stuff, how can you tell when people are taking the fabled high road?

His idea of the high road, like that of so many others in public life, seems to consist of this:

You show up at meetings and speak your mind.

All that other stuff - blogs, letters to the editor, talk radio, Twitter, Facebook, public access TV - well, that sort of stuff that might be considered “the low road.” We have procedures set in place, damn it! People should use The Process.

Often times the process will consist of coming to a public meting where a school-marmish elected official will remind you that you only have a certain amount allotted to make your point - and sometimes - it depends upon how anal retentive officials are - you may be barred from speaking more than once.

Many bodies don’t take public comment until the very end of the meeting, and even then, how often you see them reported in the newspapers the following morning?

Years ago in Fayetteville the morning newspaper was chockful of the interplay between elected officials and members of the public; occasional flashes of that may turn up now.

This is the high road. You come in and speak your piece and forever after that hold your piece. It’s a mugs game. Political activists have the right - no, the responsibility - to use each and every tool at their disposal.

It’s not just all right for those in dictatorships; it’s okay for people living in democracies to use these tools as well. True, people in authority would prefer that you confine your activities to coming to meetings and speaking your piece in a quiet, respectful tone.

They can’t control Facebook, or list-servs, or blogs, or any of the other venues that people may choose to examine issues or criticize public figures. The city of Palestine, Texas once got rid of their entire public access system just to rid itself of one persistent critic, Joe Ed Bunton (whose interview will run on C.A.T. in a few weeks) but for the most part, they can’t stop you.

Instead of whining about folks not using The Process, people in authority should just sort of get with the program, and understand that petulance isn’t an attractive outfit on anyone.

They are free to ignore any and all criticism, of course. Proclaiming that they are going to ignore criticism because it isn’t coming to them from the proper direction, or that activists aren’t taking the high road - well, some of the horses in the Stables of Authority are just way too high of late.

******

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