Taking A Stand Is Dangerous Business

Taking a stand and speaking your mind has always been a dangerous business. All yesterday I thought of K. Pythia Theocritos’ guest post on Daughters of Eve:

I can smile, laugh, offer witty comebacks with a hint of “sista-speak”, but never, ever, disagree or venture to correct. In the pagan community I’ve sensed being two steps away from the territory of“uppity negro.” I’ve seen it in the eyes of 40 year old women, hell bent on using their “Irishness/Scottishness” as an excuse to exercise poor manners at any given opportunity. I’ve heard it in the patronizing tones of leadership who instantly equate my eloquence as an attack on their institution and delicate sensibilities. To “know my place” means to be the constant beginner, willing to claim even the most undereducated one-book priestess as my better.

Though I am whiter-than-Wonderbread, I really related to a lot of what Theocritos had to say. To speak up, to speak well, to speak crictically, to question, to examine and to debate is to wrongly be seen as being on the offensive, to maliciously attack. I count among my dearest friends people who can disagree with me, debate with me, question me, criticize me, all without attacking me or being offended themselves.

Free speech is dangerous, not in and of itself, but to those who perceive questions, criticisms and debate as an attack. Like the rest of you, I’ve been watching Occupy Wall Street, much as I watched the Tea Party, and I’m appalled at the amount of vitriol  being heaped on ordinary people taking a stand and speaking their mind. Even people I respect from other faiths, find themselves unable to muster an ounce of Christian charity for protests on the other side of the political divide. I truly believe that at the core Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party are two different expressions of the same frustration. Both use the language of revolution when addressing our government and both have proven to be movements that defy containment, or taming.

At the dawn of our nation we were aware of the price of free speech and of revolutionary talk. When we failed to gain a representative voice in the British government, we began to speak of revolution, knowing the dire consequences. Knowing the revolutionary talk in the colonies had already endangered their lives, Ben Franklin famously remarked at the signing of the Declaration of Independence:

“We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

Borne of the enforced silence and powerlessness imposed upon us by a foreign government came about a nation who has held to the ideal of a nation of free speech and the right to public assembly for the addressing of grievances. We don’t always hold to this ideal, and it’s taken a long time for women and minorities to gain any ground when it comes to being heard.

Even so, it’s still disheartening to read about Oakland this morning. Friends in California keep sharing ever more disturbing photos and stories, and Jon Stewart, as usual, points out how ridiculous the overreaction by the police has been. Exercising your constitutional rights shouldn’t make you vulnerable to attack by your own country. Taking a peaceful stand for your political principles should not leave you subject to tear gas and rubber bullets. That is not what America is about.

The most heartbreaking thing I have seen all morning is a Marine incensed at the treatment of his brother, also a veteran, in Oakland.

This image has been making the rounds on social media.

Facebook page Being Liberal and other media outlets have identified the young vet as USMC Scott Olsen, and provided an address to send Get Well cards.

Both the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street have been largely influential thanks to the internet and social media. When you see the bruises police left on someone you know and can share that image with thousands of people at once, mainstream media becomes irrelevant. This isn’t the first time protesters have been attacked in the US. We’ve seen it at Kent State during Vietnam and in Seattle at the WTO protest.

It’s my hope the both sides of the political divide can come together to find a solution. It’s my hope that we stop demonizing each other and see free speech as a mode of expressing grievances and not as an attack. It’s my hope that people stop to listen to each other without baring their teeth or raising up weapons. It’s my hope that blood will no longer be shed in the United States as a consequence of speaking out and taking a stand. The problems are too big to be solved by a divided nation. Our problems are too big to ignore. Our anger is too justified to be dismissed. We should be able to speak out freely, to address our grievances peacefully, without fear of being attacked. We have fought and shed blood for centuries for the right to free speech and should not suffer to be forced into silence by violence or intimidation. What Ben Franklin uttered centuries ago is still very true today:

“We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

UPDATE: According to Micheal Moore, Marines are leading the way for Occupy Oakland to resume it’s protest.

About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JasmineLunaMadre Jasmine Lunamadre

    Star- taking a stand is also something that is dangerous between other people.  I see pagans state their opinions on message boards and then have everyone attack them for stating their beliefs all the time.  I truly believe that peace and understanding start at the smallest of levels and that before the entire nation can do this, we all have to be more understanding of each other on a day to day basis.

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      There’s a difference between discussion and attack.

      Discussion is: State your sources. Back up your argument. Explain your stance more fully. Your logic is incoherent and here’s why.

      Attack is: You’re a hateful, angry person for saying that. You obviously have issues. Every belief is valid and you are obviously having issues with your Christian background for even questioning me.

      I support discussion. Not attack. Pagans don’t always know the difference.

      • http://www.facebook.com/charlton.hall Charlton Hall

        Yes, and if you have been abused by certain members of the Christian community, then discuss that, many Pagans will attack you for it.

        • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

          And if you’ve been blocked once for incivility, creating a new account does not mean you are welcome in this forum, Mr. Hall.

      • http://www.facebook.com/JasmineLunaMadre Jasmine Lunamadre

        I see more attacks than discussion lately… it really is sad. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/JasmineLunaMadre Jasmine Lunamadre

    Star- taking a stand is also something that is dangerous between other people.  I see pagans state their opinions on message boards and then have everyone attack them for stating their beliefs all the time.  I truly believe that peace and understanding start at the smallest of levels and that before the entire nation can do this, we all have to be more understanding of each other on a day to day basis.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      There’s a difference between discussion and attack.

      Discussion is: State your sources. Back up your argument. Explain your stance more fully. Your logic is incoherent and here’s why.

      Attack is: You’re a hateful, angry person for saying that. You obviously have issues. Every belief is valid and you are obviously having issues with your Christian background for even questioning me.

      I support discussion. Not attack. Pagans don’t always know the difference.

      • http://www.facebook.com/charlton.hall Charlton Hall

        Yes, and if you have been abused by certain members of the Christian community, then discuss that, many Pagans will attack you for it.

        • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

          And if you’ve been blocked once for incivility, creating a new account does not mean you are welcome in this forum, Mr. Hall.

      • http://www.facebook.com/JasmineLunaMadre Jasmine Lunamadre

        I see more attacks than discussion lately… it really is sad. 

  • http://hellenicpolytheist.wordpress.com/ Pythia Theocritos

    Taking a stand is only dangerous to those who stand for nothing. I’m sure that’s a snippet from some borrowed quote I can’t recall enough to quote properly. I think the problem many people have with facts is that they are not subject to emotion the way opinion is. Conviction, backed up by face, can be frightening when placed in front of someone who has flimsy logic, if any logic at all, to assert their beliefs.

    This occurs in politics, religion, economics, you name it. I also think America’s dance with anti-intellectualism is also creating a society where “feeling” is considered akin to “fact” or “perspective.” I do place a difference between how someone’s sees something versus how someone feels about something. One is based on observation while the other is, normally, based on knee-jerk reaction.

  • http://hellenicpolytheist.wordpress.com/ Pythia Theocritos

    Taking a stand is only dangerous to those who stand for nothing. I’m sure that’s a snippet from some borrowed quote I can’t recall enough to quote properly. I think the problem many people have with facts is that they are not subject to emotion the way opinion is. Conviction, backed up by face, can be frightening when placed in front of someone who has flimsy logic, if any logic at all, to assert their beliefs.

    This occurs in politics, religion, economics, you name it. I also think America’s dance with anti-intellectualism is also creating a society where “feeling” is considered akin to “fact” or “perspective.” I do place a difference between how someone’s sees something versus how someone feels about something. One is based on observation while the other is, normally, based on knee-jerk reaction.

  • Anonymous

    I am really tired of the tribalism in American politics and culture. The notion that people who don’t think exactly the way you do should be demonized and automatically dismissed.

  • blackpagan

    I am really tired of the tribalism in American politics and culture. The notion that people who don’t think exactly the way you do should be demonized and automatically dismissed.

  • Windweaver

    Well, as an active member of “Occupy Raleigh” I get current news from many of the occupations, and a great number of them are being attacked in some way by the local or state authorities. We’re most of us being attacked for nothing more than exercising our rights of freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly, both of which are first amendment rights. In fact, at our occupation the state capitol police forced us to remove all of our signs and supplies from the small area of sidewalk where we were keeping them {they were not in any way blocking the sidewalk} and when one of the ladies that are occupying stayed in her chair, because she’s disabled, she was arrested for second degree trespassing, while seven people that surrounded her to protect her, were also arrested. Five were arrested for obstruction, and two others for trespassing. The disabled woman was sitting in her own chair, on a public sidewalk.

    This is quite mild compared to many of the occupy sites, and we’ve been fortunate in that the Raleigh Police have actually, for the most part, been very cooperative with us. The mayor was actually quite angry about the arrest of the occupy people, and has issued a memo to the police department that they are not to assist the capitol police against us in any way.

    This has not deterred us in any way and after most of us marched to the local magistrate’s office and waited till every person arrested was released, {we had to bail out five of them} we proceeded to march back to the occupy site, chanting all the way, and have and are continuing our occupation. We will NOT be beaten.

    “The people united, will never be defeated” is one of our primary battle cries.

  • Windweaver

    Well, as an active member of “Occupy Raleigh” I get current news from many of the occupations, and a great number of them are being attacked in some way by the local or state authorities. We’re most of us being attacked for nothing more than exercising our rights of freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly, both of which are first amendment rights. In fact, at our occupation the state capitol police forced us to remove all of our signs and supplies from the small area of sidewalk where we were keeping them {they were not in any way blocking the sidewalk} and when one of the ladies that are occupying stayed in her chair, because she’s disabled, she was arrested for second degree trespassing, while seven people that surrounded her to protect her, were also arrested. Five were arrested for obstruction, and two others for trespassing. The disabled woman was sitting in her own chair, on a public sidewalk.

    This is quite mild compared to many of the occupy sites, and we’ve been fortunate in that the Raleigh Police have actually, for the most part, been very cooperative with us. The mayor was actually quite angry about the arrest of the occupy people, and has issued a memo to the police department that they are not to assist the capitol police against us in any way.

    This has not deterred us in any way and after most of us marched to the local magistrate’s office and waited till every person arrested was released, {we had to bail out five of them} we proceeded to march back to the occupy site, chanting all the way, and have and are continuing our occupation. We will NOT be beaten.

    “The people united, will never be defeated” is one of our primary battle cries.


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