I only caught a glimpse of the news about the use of pepper spray on Occupy protesters at UC Davis while I was away at the AAR/SBL Annual Meeting. I learned more about it on the plane back, and already began reflecting at that time on how the incident relates to Star Wars. I have long assumed that the reason that droids are not allowed in the bar in Mos Eisley is not just that they take up space that could otherwise be occupied by paying customers, but also that they could record and play back any conversation that takes place in that “hive of scum and villany” – many of which conversations the participants would not like recorded and handed over to law enforcement.
I wonder whether in the Star Wars universe videos of stormtroopers behaving badly ever go viral, or whether rebels circulate parody videos of the representatives of the Empire. That is what has happened in this case, with lots of memes of images of Lt. John Pike, the pepper-spraying cop, circulating and going viral around the internet. Images of this sort are an attempt to poke fun at and ridicule the guilty, and in so doing deflate them of the respect, authority or power that they might otherwise wield. When authority uses its power in an excessive, abusive, or tyrannical fashion, it is self-defeating.
Thanks to Striking Thoughts for the image of Yoda being pepper sprayed. It actually can be used to make an important point. If the Occupy protesters were to resort to violence in response to the pepper spray incident, it would be like a Jedi responding with anger to being pepper sprayed by a Sith. If you respond to the dark side by turning to the dark side, it is ultimately a victory for them, not for you.
You can find some of the other internet meme images at BuzzFeed. Here are just a couple more, one of which relates specifically to religion, the other of which relates specifically to the dark side…