Saturday, April 26, 2008

Guess Who's Coming to Graduation!

A bunch of orange-suited protesters with faux electrodes tied to their balls!


--- On Thu, 4/24/08, actagainsttorture@riseup.net wrote:
From: actagainsttorture@riseup.net
Subject: Fire, Disbar, Prosecute John Yoo: Protest at 5/17 Graduation,
Boalt Law School
To: actagainsttorture@riseup.net
Date: Thursday, April 24, 2008, 9:42 AM


Friends & fellow-activists, You've probably followed this month's
revelation of the contents of John Yoo's legal brief of March 14, 2003,
advising the White House how it could get away with torture. Jameel
Jaffer, director of the ACLU's national security project, said Yoo's legal
reasoning puts "literally no limit at all to the kinds of interrogation
methods that the president can authorize. [...] The whole point of the
memo is obviously to nullify every possible legal restraint on the
president's wartime authority. The memo was meant to allow torture, and
that's exactly what it did." In the wake of the memo's release, the
National Lawyer's Guild has called for Yoo's dismissal from his position
at UC Berkeley, his disbarment, and his prosecution for war crimes. The
Center for Constitutional Rights has released a letter in support of this
call. While John Yoo is no longer deputy assistant attorney general for
the Bush administration's Office of Legal Counsel he is still a professor
at UC Berkeley's Boalt Law School. And Boalt is having their annual
graduation on the morning of Saturday, May 17th, at the Greek Theatre on
the east side of the campus. A reception at the law school, just around
the corner (southeast corner of the campus) will follow. We're going to
be there to demand he be fired, disbarred, and prosecuted. Will you join
us? Where: Hearst Greek Theatre, Berkeley California (east side of
campus, on Galey Rd) When: Saturday May 17, 2008 8am
(ticketed guests will all be inside by 9 -- you can take a nap in the
afternoon!!!) PLEASE RSVP by writing to ActAgainstTorture@riseup.net !!
We're looking for a major presence at this event now that John Yoo's full
complicity in attempting to grant the torture-administration immunity has
been revealed. The graduation ceremony starts at nine, but our protest
will happen BEFORE the ceremony, beginning at 8 am when the gates at the
Greek Theatre open to guests (only folks with tickets will be allowed
inside, but we'll have plenty of opportunity to make our point as
students, faculty, and families arrive through the two entrances to the
Greek Theatre). During the ceremony we'll take a coffee break, and will
return to line the route between the Greek Theatre and the Boalt Law
School where a reception will be held. We plan to have the usual orange
jump suits & our cage, lots of orange ribbons that we'll ask people to
wear inside the graduation, and excellent signs for the many of you we
expect will come out for this action. Please come out on May 17th!
Yours, Act Against Torture http://www.ActAgainstTorture.org

---------------

I'm deeply ambivalent about this. On the one hand, of course, I don't like that all of us students, who have worked so kind of hard for three years, and who are just looking for one morning to celebrate our accomplishments, and who have elderly and possibly not-quite-ambulatory grandparents in tow -- that we have to wade through a mass of shouting and screaming and...politics. Just to graduate.

But even in the larger context, this protest seems...well, 'counterproductive' is too generous. How about 'stupid'? In my post below, I think I made clear that I, like almost everyone at Boalt, disagree deeply with this country's torture policy that John Yoo helped instantiate. But if there's one lesson the last seven years have taught, it's that you have to VOTE to change things. The courts aren't going to save the liberals. Neither is the New York Times. Or Keith Olberman. Or YouTube. Liberals have to convince the rest of America to change.

Disrupting the graduation ceremonies of 3,00 well-educated, well-informed, wealthy, politically moderate parents and relatives with a raucous and inflammatory protest does NOT seem like a very effective way to do that. It seems like a way to piss off a lot of people who should be allies.

This isn't terribly surprising though. The American left has specialized and perfected the talent of alienating those who should be its strongest supporters. See, e.g., "Bitter, clinging to." This protest is part of a long tradition of digging the whole deeper.

Of course, on the other hand, to be fair, I can sympathize with their instincts. Yeah, this will generate a lot of media coverage. Yes, it'll keep torture in the news. It'll 'get their message out there.' And are we so sheltered as to need cover from a little political antagonism on a Saturday morning?

So I can see where they're coming from.

But it's important to remember that goading is not the same as convincing. Shouting is not strategizing. Disruption is not persuasion. For once -- for just one goddamn moment -- I wish these people would think about whether they're making more enemies than friends.

But perhaps I'm giving too much credit to people who have a canvas orange jump-suit hanging in their closet, at the ready.

Labels:

66 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is what turns me off about these protesters. I think it is noble that they are trying to raise awareness in their own way, and are speaking out for what they believe, which to date, is far more than most Boalt students have done. What irks me is that their protests do not effectively convey their message, make them look slightly crazy, and end up being disruptive at the expense of everyone BUT YOO. For the sake of the 3Ls' happiness during graduation, I sincerely hope that they will not be prohibitively disruptive.

4/27/2008 12:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah EW & 12:08 -- couldn't have said it better.

4/27/2008 12:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look on the bright side. Between this protest and the homeless people coming to the reception in the courtyard, our friends and families will get to experience Berkeley liberalism, tolerance, and diversity at its finest.

4/27/2008 7:52 AM  
Blogger 3elle said...

Completely agree. Protests and disruptions can certainly be effective if properly orchestrated, but the message of this stunt is only tangentially related (at best) to our graduation. Graduation really has nothing to do with John Yoo. Nor do the families of graduating students have anything more to do with John Yoo than does the general public.

They're just going to look like asses in the eyes of the media (which, I suspect will be quite minimal in the first place), and they're going to piss off all the attendees. Both of which are counterproductive to their goals.

4/27/2008 9:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I spoke to several of the orange jumpsuiters and believe that while some protesters have noble intentions some are just mean people who get a visceral thrill out of hurting others. They justify hurting you and your families because . . . because they are just and someone else has been evil. It's ironic given what the acts that they are protesting.

4/27/2008 10:14 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

What if DE pulls a venue bait-and-switch, SF-torch style? How cool would that be?

4/27/2008 10:21 AM  
Anonymous Nathan said...

I agree with 10:14.

On another point, the letter quoted in the post mentions that both the National Lawyer's Guild and the Center for Constitutional Rights have asked for Yoo's dismissal. I've had my head up my ass studying for finals, so I didn't know much about this. Here are links to the two organizations' statements:

National Lawyer's Guild
Center for Constitutional Rights (I couldn't a link to this letter CCR's website, but the listed site posted copy of the letter).

I was surprised to see that both organizations implicitly call for criminal sanction, in addition to dismissal.

4/27/2008 10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why say John Yoo, not Jo*n Y**, but DE, not Dean Edley?

Serious question. Please don't delete this comment like you did the last one, asking why not Jo*n Y**. Or if you do, at least have the transparency to note that the post was deleted. What's the logic of pseudonymizing professors' name? Except when they're unpopular, of course. It's a silly practice. And it's not about public-figure status, because then Dean Edley should Be Dean Edley, not (wink wink) DE.

4/27/2008 10:33 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Dude, 10:33, you must love the blue book.

JY is a celebrity. DE is a celebrity. I don't really care what you call them, because they have placed their names and reputations in the spotlight, and on the internets. That's not true of our professors.

Your comments on the other thread (which are merely a list of professors' names, apparently posted for the sole purpose of getting them out out on the net) have been removed because that practice is called Google bombing, and its not very nice. I honestly don't understand why you are so upset about this issue, but based on the IP addresses of the posts, there is only one of you.

Out of courtesy to EW and everyone else who doesn't really care about this issue, how about you email me in person and explain your concern?

pbageant AT gmail.com

4/27/2008 10:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Activists (of all political persuasions and causes) need to do some soul searching about the value of their protests. The following protests come to mind:

1) Code Pink. They are the laughingstock of the rest of the country and are pissing off Berkeley residents because they are causing such a huge waste of police resources.

2) The treesitters. The popular opinion seems to be that they are wasting a lot of public money and flouting the law.

3) The Olympic Torch protests. The most common image was of a woman in a wheelchair being assaulted by protestors. In SF, the press was about tensions between Chinese Americans and others, not about the human rights problems.

4) The 49ers SELS incidents. There was a lot of student anger about the tactics, but not much discussion of the merits of NFL's disability policies.

5) Howard Dean's decision not to speak at graduation last year (two years ago?). A lot of students who supported the employees felt betrayed, and it doesn't seem that anything positive came out of it.

All of these were protests for liberal causes in an extremely liberal town, yet I think the net effect in each case was negative.

Bonus Prediction: Even though it is completely unfair and racist, if Al Sharpton succeeds in "shutting down" New York City, Barack Obama will pay for it with white voters at the polls. Query whether that is a good result for African Americans.

4/27/2008 11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The really offensive part of this upcoming protest is that the organizers are still referring to us as "Boalt Law School." Didn't they get that memo?

In all seriousness, it really sucks that the 3Ls will have to deal with this on graduation day. I'm not a 3L, but if I were, I'd be a little pissed. However, as someone already pointed out, now your families get to see first-hand what you meant by all the "crazies" in Berkeley!

4/27/2008 11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Switch to the stadium? It'd be a hell of a lot harder to protest that.

4/27/2008 11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I say do a petition that says "we agree with you, but we don't want you to disrupt this ceremony representing all of our (not JY's) hard work." Have every 3L sign it and send it to them. It will blow their minds. On the one hand, they believe all petitions have to be followed. On the other, they won't want to follow this one. By the time they figure out what to do, graduation will be long passed.

4/27/2008 11:56 AM  
Blogger Max Power said...

Ah, this makes me feel nostalgic. The picketing of Dean two years ago pissed me off enough to ask Armen to write my first blog post here. Good to see Berkeley protesters haven't lost their myopia.

4/27/2008 12:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I honestly don't understand why you are so upset about this issue, but based on the IP addresses of the posts, there is only one of you.

So now N&B admins are tracking and trying to find the identity of posters?

cree-pyy!

I'm kind of afraid to post here now, lest they start linking my posts with my IP, which kinda defeats the purpose of anonymous posting.

4/27/2008 2:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Newsflash: anyone can identify the IP of a "anonymous" poster on almost all blogs. Not just the admins. If that changes the way you behave, it's probably a change for the better.

4/27/2008 2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Think any students will give their extra tickets to the protesters?

4/27/2008 3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously though, folks. Mass deletions and IP stalking because someone pointed out the ludicrosity and obsequiousness of shielding professor names? This is childish, tin-pot-dictatorish and a little self defeating. Once you start hitting that censor button it's hard to stop. Come on, Patrick. It's not to protect the professors, it's to ensure that *your name* isn't linked with any unseemly comments. While I applaud you for posting under your own name (and, yes, note that I am not doing the same), I have to say that the criticism of the over-asteriskization is warranted. There's no consistency to it, and it's dishonest. Either you say the name or you don't. I seriously doubt Eleanor Swift will give a rat's testicle about whether her name shows up in your post, or in the comments. It's to protect *yourself*. Which is fine. Right now, I'm availing myself of the same privilege by posting anonymously. But be honest about it, and label self-censorship what it is. And whatever you do, don't start down a censoring rampage. It's low. It also is not in keeping with the spirit of N&B -- or Armen's rules of engagement, at least as I read them.

4/27/2008 3:48 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

*sigh*

I really don't feel like fighting over this.

The deleted comments contained lists of faculty names, and nothing else. I don't see that kind of posting going on over at, say, the professor review site, which suggests that the poster's sole purpose motivation to antagonize.

Please. Can't we just demonstrate a little class here and let it go already? I get the feeling that some people argue over this kind of thing . . . . just for the sake of arguing.

Meh.

4/27/2008 4:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To return to the topic of the original post ...

I am a 3L and am disturbed by the these protests. It wouldn't be a big deal if they stood there with signs, but we all know the anti-JY crew is different. In fact, the email says they'll have their orange suits and "the cage" - uhh, I'm sorry but I don't want a bunch of jumpsuit-wearing protestors with bags over their heads and electrodes tide to them at my graduation (or outside yelling at me or my parents, my grandparents, my friends).

Maybe some people will think that I'm selfish for not wanting to see the evils going on, or that I'm ignorant and want to live my sheltered life, and they are entitled to think that. But I doubt they've thought about how their protests will affect a bunch of law students and their families who have NOTHING to do with JY.

4/27/2008 4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think there is (or should be) a recognized canon of protesting that says that if you look more obnoxious than the subject or audience of your protest, your protest will be counterproductive.

4/27/2008 4:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonder if the admin knows anything about this yet? Not that they can do anything...just curious.

4/27/2008 5:02 PM  
Anonymous colleen said...

I'm confused at what would constitute a better time or place for the protest. John Yoo teaches for the Law School Formerly Known as Boalt Hall. People attending will include the Dean, Assistant Deans, other professors and students. Likely the Chancellor and the UC administrative grand pooh-bahs will become aware of the protest. So the graduation of said law school seems like the most effective time and space for a demonstration to convey a message that they believe a professor of that school in a war criminal. More effective than, say, the graduation of the Engineering School.

I think the point of the protest isn't to act normal, it's to make people uncomfortable and take notice. That's why they hand out ribbons and pretend to be detainees.

It seems to me that what most people are saying is that we want our graduation to be comfortable and rosy and that isn't possible if there are protestors. And if that's true, then it seems this protest has made us uncomfortable and is making us take notice and that the protestors have achieved their goals.

It should also be noticed that the janitors, the people who have, quite literally, cleaned up our shit for us for 3 years, are also picketing graduation regarding fair labor conditions. Why is it everyone is posting about Yoo, but no one seems to care about them?

4/27/2008 5:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And if that's true, then it seems this protest has made us uncomfortable and is making us take notice and that the protestors have achieved their goals."

Is that really the goal?

I think everyone you mentioned who will be at the graduation ceremony already knows John Y*o is a professor at Boalt. I also think everyone knows about the memos and the controversy. I would also guess that everyone knows of the calls for him to be fired, including those of the particular organization that will be protesting because they already come to Boalt once or twice every year. So notice of the issue is already taken care of.

Then the question arises: what is the point of causing discomfort? It looks to me like there are two possibilities. The first is to hope that the discomfort will prod us into doing something, e.g., supporting their cause or firing Y*o so they'll leave us alone. The second is just to cause discomfort for the sake of causing discomfort, without regard to results.

If the first is their goal, then the protestors need to be careful not to alienate the audience and cause it to oppose their cause or their organization. I think that is what the commenters are discussing.

If the second is their goal, then the protesters can do whatever they want to maximize discomfort. In that case, they could do a much better job than they are doing. Their only constraint would be to remain within the bounds of the law so they don't face legal consequences. They could do a lot more screaming to increase discomfort if they wanted to.

In conclusion, if they don't care about results, they aren't doing a good job because they aren't maximizing discomfort. If they do care about results, they aren't doing a good job because they are alienating a lot of potential allies.

4/27/2008 6:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

5:08 - why does your post give me deja vu?

If the point of their protest is to make people uncomfortable, it needs to makes the relevant people uncomfortable in order to be effective In this case, the relevant people are those who 1) agree with the protesters (because let's be honest - their protest is not intended to persuade; their theatrical stunts do not inform those watching about the issue), and 2) can do something about it. Graduating students and their families are not the appropriate audience here; they cannot do anything about John Yoo's tenure.

If the protestors are trying to convince graduation attendees that they should take action (what action they could take I'm not sure -- perhaps write letters or talk to the Dean), then the protesters should choose a time when they are more likely to have people's attention, and should chose tactics that have a stronger informing function and less of a shock value.

Alternatively, it may be the point of their protest to raise awareness for their issue by garnering media attention. This is a more likely justification for their protest given the dramatic and non-informative tactics they use. However, their protest is on quite a small scale and the event they are protesting at is not very high profile. When weighed against the harm they do by pissing off all the graduation attendees, they probably end up losing support for their cause.

4/27/2008 6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

6:42 - jinx!
- 6:44

4/27/2008 6:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having seen a few JY protests, I think it's really just protesting JY, as some kind of evil George Bush proxy.

Quite frankly, a good number of people in Berkeley just like to protest. (Notice the nice coffee break during the ceremony!) JY, Marine recruiters, tree sitters, maybe even the custodial workers--it's all one big interconnected morality play to them, where the good and evil characters are easily identified. (There were actually call-outs to tree-sitter solidarity the last time protesters interrupted a Boalt event.)

The protesters will probably consider themselves successful if they are be disruptive. But I can't imagine most Boalt families are going to be taking ribbons. In fact, they probably will end up hardening hearts and minds, not changing them. I'm not sure that's really achieving their goals.

4/27/2008 7:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I completely agree with Colleen. I'm a 3L, I'm graduating, and I have no problem with a protest during graduation day. When I forwarded my parents the email about the demonstration, they seemed more excited to come up from Orange County. Of course they had heard about the Yoo memos, but like many Americans are not aware of the details, nor the call for Yoo to step down.

Regardless of whether you agree with the protesters' objectives, if the goal is to educate the larger community outside of Berkeley about the memos, Guantanamo etc, then there is no doubt that the protestors are already succeeding.

The first thing my (Republican) father asked me when I spoke to him over the weekend was about the torture memos. When my non-English speaking grandmother comes up for graduation (if she does come up), she too will be asking about Yoo when she sees people in orange jumpsuits.

4/27/2008 7:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But if there's one lesson the last seven years have taught, it's that you have to VOTE to change things. The courts aren't going to save the liberals. Neither is the New York Times. Or Keith Olberman. Or YouTube. Liberals have to convince the rest of America to change."

Well I certainly have my doubts about the effectiveness of the protestors' actions here, but in their defense I will say this:

(1) Simply voting is not enough. And political activism is a lot harder than you think it is. If you disagree, please tell me: (a) what you would do; and (b) what you've done lately along those lines.

(2) To further the point that political activism is harder than you think, consider this: A handful of us alums who graduated in 2004 did our damndest to pull off a dignified protest. We put together a petition asking Yoo to either repudiate his position, or resign. Then we asked students at graduation to wear black armbands. That's it. We did not attempt to disrupt graduation, nor did we make any kind of obnoxious scene.

Well guess what : A huge number of Boalties just like you branded us "dirty smelly hippies encroaching on academic freedom" in pretty much the exact same tone of voice that you're using now.

(3) To some extent, you're going to have to choose up sides at some point. If it comes down to People Who Protest Obnoxiously versus People Who Facilitate An Official Government Policy Of Torture, I know which side I would choose.

4/27/2008 8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Well guess what : A huge number of Boalties just like you branded us "dirty smelly hippies encroaching on academic freedom" in pretty much the exact same tone of voice that you're using now."

Clearly you weren't annoying enough if you couldn't convince everyone that you were correct. I'm sure the derisive comments would have gone away if you could have just been a bit more obnoxious.

That probably isn't the point you were trying to make with that post, though. Were you trying to say that the shock tactics are justified because people don't respond to more informative/less intrusive actions?

Maybe people didn't respond as you would have liked, not because political activism is hard, but because there are valid reasons to fall on either side of the debate.

4/27/2008 8:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:10 - I would get a job, preferably a high-paying one at a law firm, and donate a bunch of money to a political campaign or public interest organization that was likely to pursue the ends I am interested in. Improving the world is very expensive. Students at Boalt can generate a lot more cash than other people. Comparative advantage makes it irrational for us to spend our time protesting. One law-firm hour can finance eight protester hours.

4/27/2008 9:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"(3) To some extent, you're going to have to choose up sides at some point. If it comes down to People Who Protest Obnoxiously versus People Who Facilitate An Official Government Policy Of Torture, I know which side I would choose."

Oh, please. This simplistic view is exactly why these protests are never effective. Interesting that the protestors seem to have the same outlook as the evil (and I agree, he's horrible) George W. Bush: "You're either with us, or you're against us."

To say that this is only about (or will only be about) those who facilitate a policy of torture v. those who protest obnoxiously is ridiculously simplistic and ignorant. Oh, how easy life would be if things were so black and white ...

4/27/2008 9:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Colleen - I totally agree that the janitors' pickets should be discussed as well, as they are an important cause. I think what people see as the difference is the "disruption" that comes from torture protestors (who are protesting something that has NOTHING to do with UC Berkeley, other than the mere presence of JY - note that he is not promoting his policy views ANYWHERE in the classroom or at Berkeley) and the janitors' picketing, which has EVERYTHING to do with UC Berkeley and the services they provide. I see a distinction, at least.

Or maybe I'm simply too eager to see fine lines of distinction after 3 years in law school!

4/27/2008 10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"That probably isn't the point you were trying to make with that post, though."

You've obviously missed the point of the post completely.

"Maybe people didn't respond as you would have liked, not because political activism is hard, but because there are valid reasons to fall on either side of the debate."

If that was your point, you'd still have respect for people who disagree with you in a dignified manner. But you don't.

I actually think that truth is that many Boalt students actually believe Yoo is right.

4/27/2008 10:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:52 pm took the words out of my mouth.

4/27/2008 10:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Interesting that the protestors seem to have the same outlook as the evil (and I agree, he's horrible) George W. Bush: 'You're either with us, or you're against us.'"

First of all, I'm not one of the people this thread is designed to demonize.

I think that from a purely tactical standpoint, these particular protesters are ineffective, and I wish they'd figure out a better way to get their message across.

And the poster of this thread retains the pretense of having some sympathy for them too, as do many of the commenters.

Yet so many of you basically do nothing yourselves, that I tend to doubt your sincerity on this score. It's so easy to knock other people down, announce a superior position, and then do nothing yourself. Did you ever stop to wonder if you're basically fooling yourself?

4/27/2008 10:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If it comes down to People Who Protest Obnoxiously versus People Who Facilitate An Official Government Policy Of Torture, I know which side I would choose."

Thank you, Boalt Alumnus 2004, for capturing the full complexity of the nexus between humanitarian law, national security, and academic freedom. When you put it that way, how can anyone disagree? Your black armband has changed the world.

4/27/2008 10:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and on the "Us versus Them" point: That isn't what we've chosen it to be; that's how they made it.

Tell me, are you willing to vote for a third Green Party, or Ralph Nader?

Yeah, I thought so...

4/27/2008 10:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Your black armband has changed the world."

No, we didn't. But we changed a couple minds.

You all, on the other hand, have done jack shit...

4/27/2008 10:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"One law-firm hour can finance eight protester hours."

How funny. We'll give our money to them, but then we'll mock them when they spend it.

Good luck with that.

4/27/2008 10:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yet so many of you basically do nothing yourselves, that I tend to doubt your sincerity on this score. It's so easy to knock other people down, announce a superior position, and then do nothing yourself. Did you ever stop to wonder if you're basically fooling yourself?

Ahhhh. Yes. Whoever you are, yes.

Let's be frank here, you're probably fooling yourself, too. I know I am. But there is something really disturbing in how Boalt students as a whole seem to approach the Yoo scandal. This is, for those of you who have not yet figured it out, basically a huge deal. And yet the vibe I get is some terrible combination of "don't rock the boat" and moral/intellectual claims to high ground. A huge learning opportunity is being wasted, in the name of . . . academic freedom? How frightfully ironic.

4/27/2008 10:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do I feel like the those who think they "make a difference" by standing outside JY's classroom wearing orange jumpsuits are those who think they're superior to the rest of us who don't do that?

Oh, right. Maybe because of comments like 10:23's, who tell us we've done jack shit. Or 10:18, who thinks we're fooling ourselves. You're so right ... I don't want the protesters disrupting my graduation so therefore I actually deep down support torture! Give me a break. I admire your dedication, but don't tell me that the fact I haven't protested myself means I am ok with the torture policies.

I have to echo 9:52 when I say that's just too simplistic.

4/27/2008 10:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW, I'd love to know how many of you people supported the Iraq War because you really couldn't stand those dirty hippies stopping traffic.

I bet you'd blame it on the smelly hippies for stopping traffic. It was their fault for alienating people like you, who wouldn't have supported the war if only the smelly hippies hadn't gone and stopped the traffic. Because they made you late that day.

They made you support the war, the smelly hippies, by stopping traffic they did.

Now look at the mess we're in.

4/27/2008 10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"but don't tell me that the fact I haven't protested myself means I am ok with the torture policies."

By all means then, tell us what you have done.

4/27/2008 10:37 PM  
Blogger La Mitotera said...

Seems like every year Boalt 3Ls have to contend with various groups who want to make their point at the commencement ceremony. Usually it is the janitors who keep up from getting a well known speaker, now it is the Yoo protesters. Although I am a little pissed that crazy people in orange jumpsuits might disrupt my graduation, at least my family will get the full Berkeley experience. I wonder if they will pose with us for some good pictures. I already got pictures of the tree people, the Yoo protesters will make a nice addition to my collection of the bat shit crazies from the People’s Republic of Berkeley.

4/27/2008 10:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's the point! I haven't done anything about it. But I get the sense you think that means I support torture.

I think it is great that some people have enough dedication (and thick skin) to protest - believe me I'd be outta there as soon as someone yelled something mean at me. And I really admire you're strong feelings, and the awareness you've brought to the issue. But please don't think I support the complete intellectual dishonesty that JY and the Bush Administration have set out because I've chosen to take a class with JY. There are all different types of people -some of us just don't feel comfortable protesting, or writing letters, or the like (outside of the ballot box). We each have our own causes we support, but just because I haven't done anything doesn't mean I don't agree with you.

It's not you vs everyone, 1037.

4/27/2008 10:44 PM  
Anonymous 2:57 said...

Oh dear, MY graduation will be upset because some people will be protesting. How dare these people express their rights in a public space in order to inform the public of a viewpoint other than my own, on MY special day?! Besides, how....how....terribly inefficient! They look so unfashionably crazy in those tacky orange jumpsuits. MY mind won't be changed, and I'll work my best to make sure that my family agrees with me, too.
And, my goodness, what ineffectual tactics! Don't they have access to the political process or something? I mean, they can always go and express that wonderful equal opportunity for individual disenfranchisement: the American vote. I mean really, aren't there rules that protect me from having to confront any issue that I don't want to? God, I can't WAIT to live in a gated community.

Baaaaaaaaah, baaaaaaaah.

Like it or not folks, the protesters are there to express the exact same right that you state that JY should have. I think that the great part of the support for JY is in truth not support for the man himself. Rather it was support for Boalt's ability to uphold, nay applaud, the rights of people it disagrees with, right? Considering that it is obvious that there is NOTHING that anyone can do to stop the protests, I would say that the complaints here are simply a matter of respect. While you are all entitled to your own opinions, I think you should respect these people more. Here's why:

Argument for not respecting the protesters 1: These people have better ways to do this, so I don't respect them because they are process-stupid.

Come on, really? You hold your fellow citizen in such low esteem that you think her incapable of the simplest economic decision making ability? If they had meaningful access to the political process, wouldn't they have already made that cost/benefit calculation themselves, gotten up, and done something "meaningful" about it? Not all citizens have been blessed with our good fortune to attend a top law school and thereby attain such a position of access. For them, this is the best legal option they have to let their opinion be known. A vote is just not a satisfactory method of self-expression in a two party system.
But wait, WE have the ability to make change in our society. Why don't they? We're blessedly powerful (busy, too). Nuts to this picketing thing, we've got connections. These connections are our privilege, not our right. These privileges are not open to all. It makes sense for them not have better process; we should not disrespect them because they are less privileged.

More than that, we should thank them for expressing rights that we choose not to. After all, but for protesters like these might we too lose our right in the future to do the same if we topple from the high pedestal of law. Rights like muscles need exercise or they atrophy. Rather than disrespect them, we should thank them that they employ the stupid process that we cannot.

Reason for disrespecting them 2: They are ineffectual at conveying their message to me, so I disrespect them for their lack of social grace.

I say that our society has been changed the most, and changed for the better, by people who have stepped outside the lines with (mostly) non-violent disruptive protests. Yes, protesters often lack social graces. Thats their job. But wait, the movements these slobs have supported HAVE effected great changes: the slaves and abolitionists, the women's suffrage movement, the protests against the Vietnam War, the labor movement, the queer rights movement. Changes wrought by these movements could not have happened without those with social grace: the politicians, the lawyers, the teachers, and the accountants. However, the protesters on the ground were the bedrock of the movements, who gave those in higher positions the support they needed to make the changes that they had the access to make. The connection, the protesters, thankfully graced with loud and rude voices, were able to say those things not allowed in politer society. Indeed, I hope that when I am trying to change the world to more closely reflect my will, I will be supported by protesters on the street who can say those things my position won't allow me to. If you think society is crummy sometimes and want to do the same, wouldn't you? If so, these orange suited crazies are your (sometimes eccentric) kin. Welcome them to your graduation, they are the shoulders on which we might one day stand.

Reason for disrespecting the protesters 3: This graduation has nothing to do with the object of their protest. I disrespect them because they are annoying and off-topic.

The protesters protest not only the acts of JY, but also the inaction of DE, Boalt Hall, every student here, every American, and perhaps even every person that has ever lived. We have all at some time decided to turn quickly away from some suffering that we knew very well we could have done something about. Did you torture anyone? No. Do you dispise torture? Probably yes. Have you done anything about it? No, you're busy.

It is not the evil of an individual, here represented by JY, that most protest fights against. Rather, most large scale social action by its very nature fights against the evils of us in groups: apathy, cynicism, group-think, solicitude, conservatism, fascism, and at last inaction. Make no mistake, the object of this protest is every person who might agree that the torture of innocents is bad, but has not expended enough effort to limit its presence in the world. Not one of those people? Great, you're excused from being affronted and you can enjoy your graduation. You are one of those people? Welcome to being human; we empathize.

We all deserve some condemnation for turning away selfishly from some suffering in this world. Its ok and natural that we do, but its also right that we feel bad for it sometimes. At this moment of success, I think it appropriate to be reminded that we have been able to achieve in part because other people have not. To be reminded of our debt to the world which put us where we are, the good AND the bad, is a much more fulfilling experience than the congratulatory pat on the back for a job well done. At the end of the day, the certificate is yours. What will it mean to you?

But, if you really want this day to not include the protesters, I think that the best suggestion here is the petition from the 3Ls. Delightfully, it will not happen. Maybe its for the better.

-2:57

4/27/2008 10:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think everyone who claims that "Us vs. Them" is a simplistic world view should explain why they think it's stupid to vote for Nader.

4/27/2008 10:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, we didn't. But we changed a couple minds.

Really? Whose?

You all, on the other hand, have done jack shit...

What, exactly, haven't I done jack shit against? Hounding JY out of Berkeley? Expressing my disagreement in a smug, politically correct fashion, so I can feel morally superior to other people?

A huge learning opportunity is being wasted, in the name of . . . academic freedom? How frightfully ironic.

No, a huge learning opportunity would be wasted if professors with controversial (even abhorrent) views were stifled, forced to either renounce their opinions or be hounded out of academia.

4/27/2008 10:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now we've got the two things that divide the Left and the Far Left in Berkeley: Ralph Nader, and JY/Torture protesters.

This is going to be fun ... Let the games begin!

4/27/2008 10:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"When you put it that way, how can anyone disagree? Your black armband has changed the world."

See? You've proved my point. It isn't that people aren't protesting in an undignified manner that disrupts graduation.

It's simply that someone is protesting at all that bothers you.

4/27/2008 10:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:48--it's called game theory. I won't vote for Nader because I know that not enough other people will vote for him to win. So, if I vote for Nader, it's one less vote for a Democrat, and the odds that a Republican will win increase.

4/27/2008 10:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:55, all you have proven is that you don't understand sarcasm.

4/27/2008 11:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"all you have proven is that you don't understand sarcasm."

Oh I got the sarcasm alright. That's all people like you know how to do.

Sarcasm is the ultimate smugness. Ah, chuckle chuckle, look at those smelly hippies. Don't they realize how much more effectively we could change the world if we'd all just go to work for Big Law?

4/27/2008 11:08 PM  
Anonymous colleen said...

Well I for one have voted Green much of my adult life, including the last two California gubernatorial campaigns, as well as Democrat for most presidential elections. I don't think it's a wasted vote when the other candidates are people I don't respect or don't believe will be good leaders.

I don't believe John Yoo should be removed from Boalt, but if he is found accountable for being a war criminal - which I doubt he will be - then he should be removed.

I believe the janitors need a livable wage more than we need Howard Dean or another famous speaker.

But mostly I wish there was more of a forum for these issues at Boalt so people could debate their beliefs in the open, instead of masking their selfs in anonymity and littering their posts with acidity and sarcasm.

4/27/2008 11:30 PM  
Anonymous 2:57 said...

Colleen is right. I apologize for my sarcasm and acidity; my message is less effective for it and I didn't mean to imply that I think myself better than anyone else. If anyone does end up reading my post, please start on para. 3.

Respectfully, 2:57

4/27/2008 11:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, 2:57--

How dare these people express their rights in a public space in order to inform the public of a viewpoint other than my own, on MY special day?!

You know who are some other people expressing their rights in a public place in order to inform the public of a viewpoint other than your own? Westboro Baptist Church. You know, the "God Hates Fags" people that disrupt funerals. The message is different, but the medium is the same. Just because you have a civil right to do something doesn't mean that people are going to appreciate your interference.

Like it or not folks, the protesters are there to express the exact same right that you state that JY should have.

Um, what? The right to protest (which nobody is contesting) is distinct from the issue of academic freedom. JY isn't shouting into a microphone in front of Code Pink members' houses at 8 a.m. (Although that would be awesome.)

If they had meaningful access to the political process...

Again--what? Are you saying that the protesters can't vote? That Berkeley's representatives in the House and Senate don't know the views of their constituents? That the protesters can't participate in the 2009 elections?

Protesters do have meaningful access to the political process. That doesn't mean that they control it. We are a democracy, after all--Berkeley residents are hardly known for having mainstream views.

If they had meaningful access to the political process.

Oh, I see: this has become some kind of Ralph Nader/Green Party/Socialist rant. Anyway, we don't have a two party system; we just have two large parties. The Green Party is small because most people don't share Green Party ideas.

It makes sense for them not have better process; we should not disrespect them because they are less privileged.

Give me a break. None of these protesters are underprivileged. It's a bunch of white, middle class folk living in Berkeley. There are lots of underprivileged people in the East Bay; they don't hang out protesting JY.

More than that, we should thank them for expressing rights that we choose not to.

This is such a Berkeley attitude. "I support tree-sitters like 'Fresh,' even though he doesn't have any coherent reason to protest; protesting is good for protesting's sake."

"The protesters protest not only the acts of JY, but also the inaction of DE, Boalt Hall, every student here, every American, and perhaps even every person that has ever lived."

So, this is all about human fallibility? The failure to live up to our full potential? Original Sin? Free will? It must be because ...

It is not the evil of an individual, here represented by JY, that most protest fights against.

Oh, I see. It's all a battle against EVIL. As represented by JY. Or maybe the Nazis in WWII. I guess maybe we're the Evil ones in the Iraq and Afghanistan, although the Taliban/A.Q. were kinda evil, too. Saddam, too.

Hmmm, maybe the real world isn't as clear-cut or simple as just "Good" versus "Evil."

Not one of those people? Great, you're excused from being affronted and you can enjoy your graduation. You are one of those people? Welcome to being human; we empathize.

That's funny, because the one thing that I'm NOT getting from your post is a feeling of genuine empathy. It's more the other feeling: the smug enjoyment of being better than other people.

Baaaaaaaaah, baaaaaaaah.

Right, it's the people who are seeing complexity and nuance that are being conformist and sheep-like.

4/27/2008 11:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um, now I feel bad for being so sarcastic. But I still disagree with you.

Somewhat apologetically,

11:38.

4/27/2008 11:41 PM  
Anonymous 2:57 said...

Again, I apologize for the polemics, really. But here's to our points:

"Westboro Baptist Church" - Just because people don't appreciate the expression of civil rights doesn't make that expression wrong. Rather, although right in expressing their rights, the good churchgoers of Westboro are wrong for other reasons. I don't believe that their message of hate, no matter how "rightfully" put, compares very well with the message of torture protesters.

"right to protest (which nobody is contesting) is distinct from the issue of academic freedom" -Both are iterations of the right to free speech.

"Are you saying that the protesters can't vote?" -No, I'm saying that their right to vote is not enough, and it is certainly not even close to the extent of the rights they have to try to change this country. This ability to create change is the meaningfulness I am talking about. And we are not talking about all of Berkeley's various viewpoints, merely one: torturing innocent people is wrong. I think that this opinion is less off-the-deep-end than you make it out to be.

"Anyway, we don't have a two party system; we just have two large parties. The Green Party is small because most people don't share Green Party ideas." - I am quite positive that very few democrats or republicans believe in every ideal propounded by any one leader of their parties. They are rough approximations, and for their size, necessarily much rougher than those expounded by parties in other countries with systems more inclusive of diversity. Our country for its political simplicity gives MUCH less meaningful representation to the diverse opinions of the average voter than the systems of other countries. It is, in every effect, a two party system.

"None of these protesters are underprivileged." - never said they were, just less privileged. And they are, as is most everyone in the country, when compared with us, be they white, brown, black, rich, poor, or in between. Most people don't have the access that we have, irregardless of any one characteristic.

"This is such a Berkeley attitude. "I support tree-sitters like 'Fresh,' even though he doesn't have any coherent reason to protest; protesting is good for protesting's sake."" - Yaaay Berkeley. Yes protesting is good for protesting's sake. Whats the counter argument? Efficiency based upon theoretical econ models? There are too many unknown variables to say whether or not it is less or more economically efficient for these people to be doing something else. At least they are doing something that we all can appreciate: expressing their (our) rights.

"So, this is all about human fallibility?" Well, not all of it, no. But a part of it can be. Why not?

"It's all a battle against EVIL." No its not. Its mostly a battle against inaction in the face of something most of us find morally repugnant at its base.

2:57

4/28/2008 12:09 AM  
Blogger Earl Warren said...

Can I designate 11:38 PM as my official successor?

If you're a guy, let's toss the pigskin on a Saturday afternoon and talk about guy things. If you're a girl, can I buy you dinner and gently massage your thighs?

It takes a lot of patience to calmly eviscerate the far left while maintaining the sanctity of the normal left. Tip of the hat, 11:38.

4/28/2008 12:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think the protesters honestly care about torture--this is just a way for them to get their kicks.

Consider this: the most promising actions to end the regime at G-Bay has been the legal action brought by members of the Bar, many of them lawyers at large law firms. Many Boalt grads will work for these firms after graduation and some will have an opportunity to work on some of this litigation.

But, instead of supporting this important work--such as by encouraging Boalt students to pursue this line of pro bono work, or otherwise advocating for it--they have chosen to pursue the red herring that is John Yoo and piss off as many Boalt students as possible.

It's bad faith on the part of the protestors. It causes people to doubt their sincerity and they have succeeded in being unable to be taken seriously.

4/28/2008 12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Just because people don't appreciate the expression of civil rights doesn't make that expression wrong. Rather, although right in expressing their rights, the good churchgoers of Westboro are wrong for other reasons. I don't believe that their message of hate, no matter how "rightfully" put, compares very well with the message of torture protesters."

My interpretation of 11:38's comment was that we should judge free expression by the manner in which it's done, not by its content.

In the case of graduation, the protestors are disrupting an arguably private event, i.e., the graduation ceremony. And people have the right to be left alone in private areas.

4/28/2008 4:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:55 pm/11:08 pm: I'm sorry, but you don't get to have it both ways. You can't use the sarcastic comment about the armband to "prove" that the person is actually bothered by protesting while also claiming that you "get" the sarcasm (side note: I'm not the one who actually made the sarcastic comment).

And I don't think that sarcasm is the ultimate smugness. I think smugness occurs when people look down on other people for not doing and thinking the exact same thing that they want to do and think. Personally, I don't look down on the protesters. I just think that it's inconsiderate to the graduating students to do this. If they want to protest and reach an audience that consists of the Boalt community, then let them come protest at our school during class like they normally do. Same target audience without the rudeness of disrupting graduation. Personally, I don't think it's selfish to ask for ONE MORNING to be honored for all of your hard work. It doesn't mean that students don't care about the issue, or about janitors since we're including them, too--it just means that for one morning, some students would like to be honored/respected for their hard work. That's all.

--11:02 pm

4/28/2008 5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the protesters want to come and disrupt the graduation, they're going to, there is nothing we can do about it but accept it. But they have to know that they're going piss people off, and they need to accept that. You can't be obnoxious and disruptive (even for a good cause) and not come away with people thinking you're being obnoxious and disruptive.

If the protesters think it's worth it to bother students and parents at graduation, that's their prerogative. Based on the comments of those who support the torture protests and the way they've chosen to protest (at graduation where JY won't even be), then these people just don't care that they're going to disrupt our graduation and bother us. Fine, but don't act all defensive when people get mad.

4/28/2008 5:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But if there's one lesson the last seven years have taught, it's that you have to VOTE to change things. The courts aren't going to save the liberals. Neither is the New York Times. Or Keith Olberman. Or YouTube. Liberals have to convince the rest of America to change.

Right, liberals voted for Clinton twice and we got NAFTA, DOMA, the Anti Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, etc. etc. That didn't help much. Then we voted for Al Gore, but Bush took over anyway. Then Pelosi and the Dems took power back in Congress and the estimates for the Iraq war are out of the billions into the trillions.

People should vote, but if you believe that voting is actually what brings about change in this country, you're pretty ignorant. Nixon ended the Vietnam war, for example, not because liberals voted for him, but because the political climate had changed - much of it changed through protest in places like Berkeley - and not all students were pleased with the protests. The biggest advances in civil and human rights have always come through marching, organizing, persuading, and agitating; not voting.

4/29/2008 3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@3:12--whee, let's keep the thread alive. I think you're giving protest too much credit as a way of getting things done. The end of the Vietnam war had more to do with military realities, and the fact that Nixon had already been re-elected, giving him nothing to lose, than with any victory that activists could claim. You and one of the earlier commenters imply that activism is what ended slavery, ignoring the years of violence that were required to actually abolish it.

4/29/2008 3:55 PM  

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