Alternative Facts

Alt facts would like to celebrate the new protest zone by encouraging a protest-zone protest in which protesters will circle the protest zone. It’s not like there’s anything more important going on.

For those who didn’t notice, the summer meeting of state governors (the National Governors Association) took place in Rhode Island this year – governors from most states, along with Vice President Pence, met at the RI convention center to discuss issues of import to states and practice trust falls. In anticipation of protesters, the RI State Police set up a “protest” zone with barricades. Also known by the ironic moniker, “free speech zones” (Hey, let’s constrain people to specific areas and call it “free” – Orwell will love it!), this approach has solid precedent and reasonable safety concerns driving it. The RIACLU even says that it’s “probably” legal and appropriate, depending on whether the restrictions are “reasonable” (one of those wonderful legal terms that can mean whatever people later decide it should mean).

One of the protesters’ major complaints is that protest zones can keep protesters hidden from news cameras. The TV news has issues, certainly, but the camera people we know wouldn’t hesitate to round a corner for some good B-roll. Another prime objection is that “zoning” keeps the protest out of the line of sight of the officials – sorry to tell you, but they’re ignoring you anyway.

Freedom of speech doesn’t give us the right to be dangerous (Google: “Yell fire in a crowded theater.” Wait, why on Earth did I get porn that way?) but to systematize, sanitize and thereby defang as “a normal thing to be ignored,” the power of protest is indeed off-putting and demoralizing. So we hope a good protest zone protest will safely and non-violently encircle the protest zone at some point. Just don’t absorb any more of our precious parking spaces in the process.

Taking a Leak

Our elected representatives at the state house recently decided to piss all over each other for no real reason, resulting in their annual recess preceding the adoption of a budget for next year (see P&J for more details). So, no budget, lots of pissing, a good bit of moaning. It’s true, we elected these people to fight for us. But owing to some tactical miscalibration, they are more interested in fighting each other than in fighting FOR anything. The analogy that keeps springing to our alt facts minds is one comparing the effectiveness of the disorganized barbarian hordes to the clockwork-efficient ancient Roman phalanxes, which mowed right through them. Then again, the hordes won eventually, after several hundred persistent years (and a fair amount of self-lead-poisoning on the part of the Roman leadership).

But the other analogy – perhaps even the core inspiration – for these shenanigans is the pissing by the big boys. At the time of this writing (it will likely be something new by the time you get this), the primary urinary discharge is between the New York Times and Don Trump Jr (note, The New Yorker published an entire article exploring the punctuation choices involved in printing the Trump Jr. name. We’re ignoring all of it.) The NYT received copies of emails putting the lie to some of TJ.’s earlier misstatements about meeting with Russians pre-election, and contacted his camp for comment. Instead of commenting, he said he had recorded the whole thing (no, sorry – that’s his dad). Instead of commenting, Jr.,. released the emails himself, thereby essentially scooping the NYT, and defusing the power of the emails in the process (because, naturally, if he’s letting us read them, well, then, who wants to really?). The ramifications of the resulting “but he promised” / “but I’m being transparent” back and forth might be far-reaching for modern communications, journalistic ethics and political ethics. But is it any wonder, with these national wiener roasts as role models, that our local pols can’t seem to stop crossing their streams? Gozer is definitely coming.

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