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  • Thursday, February 23, 2006


    Chanting at Demos and Dramatic Exits

    I went to a vigil/demonstration tonight in Northampton, Mass., a combined anti-illegal wiretapping and anti-torture kind of thing. I stood with my candle and my "Stop Illegal Wiretapping" sign and listened to chants written to the tunes of children's songs. Eventually some people read the U.S. Bill of Rights over a speaker system. I was bored.

    I left after forty minutes, wondering what difference this gathering made. Some days I am not very nice company and some days I feel crappy about being an activist. It seems like a long way from AIDS die-ins on the steps of the Massachusetts State House in the 1980s and participating in coordinated acts of civil disobedience. A long way from being a peacekeeper along the route of the "Gay and Lesbian Liberation March" and being spat on by rabid homophobes spoiling for a fight.

    In the light of these experiences, the ho-hum routine of a measured and calm vigil seems more like a social event than a fierce affirmation of principle or a declaration of power. This is not what I signed up for. But I guess it's better than doing nothing.

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