I was going to insert a crazy G20 protest image here, but there are too many to choose from. Just search #G20 or #g20report on Twitter and insert your own.
Steve Paikin is not a radical.
The host of a political/current events show on TVO, Canada’s yuppiest public station, Paikin is an establishment centrist who attends protests in a seemingly anthropological way. I stood next to him and a woman who may have been Belinda Stronach at the Canadians Against Prorogueing Parliament rally – see my video, Going Prorogue, here:
He looks a bit freaked out. Possibly by me. Who knows? Anyway, the point is: Steve Paikin isn’t anti-establishment. He isn’t pro-establishment. He IS the establishment.
So when you find him saying something like this:
I have reported from war zones in Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, Lebanon, and Israel.
But last night’s confrontation between peaceful demonstrators and riot squad police was the scariest situation I’ve ever been in, in almost 30 years of reporting.
then something really fucked up is going on.
We missed the protests because we were out of town, and I probably wouldn’t have gone anyway, because I am not eager to be tear gassed and randomly arrested.
Three of Ben’s friends – one lawyer and two bike couriers – were arrested for no reason and held overnight. Someone I know was arrested, too. She happens to work for the Globe and Mail.
I don’t know Lisan well – she’s a friend of a friend – but I’ve met her on numerous occasions and I very much doubt she was out there with a black kerchief on her face setting cop cars on fire. She was there as a journalist covering the freakin’ story, and she got arrested along with a bunch of peaceful protestors and innocent bystanders.
Do you remember how I said – just a few days ago – that this security buildup wasn’t about safety? That it was about dick-waving and theatre and making people feel scared so you can take away their rights and “protect” them?
Think I was right?
I, like Steve Paikin, am quite shaken up by this. I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty realistic person. Not a cynic, not a romantic, but one with a decent grasp on reality. I’m beginning to wonder if I was wrong, and the world I live in isn’t the one I think it is.
I thought that I lived in a democracy with a good record on human rights. I thought I lived in a country that guaranteed civil rights for all. I thought that I could protest or otherwise engage in political action without fear of spending the night handcuffed in a makeshift jail or getting driven out to the suburbs and left there. I thought that I lived in a country that respected journalism as vital to democracy and civil society. I thought I lived in a country of more or less reasonable and sane people.
Well, I guess I was wrong.
If you are against police state tactics, beating and arresting journalists, and arresting people who have done nothing but exercise their political and free speech rights, I suggest you join me in protesting at Toronto Police Headquarters (40 College) today at 5:30. I’ll be a bit late – I have to teach until 6.
In the meantime I think I’ll go home and cry a bit.