By Discreet Music
“What’s said in this room — stays in this room.” This is a common instruction for political groups when meeting over a sensitive subject. Unfortunately people need to learn or possibly relearn this maxim. Activist papers such as this one often warn of the creeping police state, yet life goes on for most people. That is the way the state operates though — insidious maneuvers of foul play while most people continue in their distractions and keeping their heads above water. The most recent move came in the signing of the National Defense Authorization Act in the beginning of this year. It has only angered the usual watchdogs groups of civil rights and activists, but hasn’t reached the irie of say, the teenybopper set. The act essentially green lights the government to imprison US citizens without a trial — and even opens up the possibility of execution.
The proponents of the Bill assure us that the expanded powers will only apply to terrorist groups. But the vague definition of enemy combatant potentially opens the door to anyone. This grants Americans the privilege to feel what most people in the world have felt coming from the US government since 9-11. The government has already proven it’s right-leaning tendencies in carrying out their laws. One example is in downplaying the harassment and assassinations of abortion doctors while it labels Food Not Bombs — a non-violent group that feeds the homeless — as terrorist. The possibility of a mass movement in this country — one that is not right wing — being labeled as terrorist is almost predictable. With the Occupy movement becoming increasingly effective one could easily see it being smeared and labeled as outlaw.
The irony of the new provisions of the NDAA is that it empowers the US government to do what other governments have practiced for decades. Places like Egypt and Tunisia have had similar laws to terrorize the population and consolidate power, which have been a major factor in igniting the protests that started the Arab Spring in early 2011. To the people paying attention it comes as no surprise when governments act in a hypocritical manner. It is why we protest — and have been waiting for more people to protest as well.
The oppression that the NDAA precipitates is not going to be outright, but gradual. Locally, Occupy die-hards are being stopped and harassed by the Oakland police for simply being involved with the movement. There is also word from people who are arrested that they are being tagged and processed as terrorists. The government simply does not want an organized and independent people ignoring their dictates. Dig those days at the Oakland Commune where the police were chased out of the camp. It is actions like that which must never be exported out of Oscar Grant Plaza, or it would be the doom of a false order.
I don’t know if people encounter this condition in other places, but California is pretty loose. Lately I have encountered lots of people being really casual in talking in public places about shit like Occupy street protests, pot trimming or squatting. At times people are in mass transit or at other times they are at a party — the point is we are among strangers and even employees of the state. My normal approach in discussing our resistance is to be discreet. What unnerves me is the sort of pride and flaunting of illegal activity that they feel compelled to express in a loud volume. It’s not like any of us are engaged in real underground activities, yet I still have mixed feelings regarding boasting. On one hand a majority of the laws are bullshit and shouldn’t be given the dignity of obedience, on the other I do not desire to carelessly give out any information.
Still, it is better to have people out of the courts and prisons doing community work. Many of the people I described have not met the system head-on, so they have not considered the consequences of careless talk. Try a grand jury for example. In the meantime the, “What’s said in this room” mantra can apply not only to meetings, but to the protests and actions we go to. So some friendly reminders are in order:
WHEN IT COMES TO ILLEGAL ACTIVITY
*Don’t talk about details of an upcoming action
*Don’t mention details of actions in email, on the phone or in the mail
*Don’t talk about past actions. Don’t post photos of actions on-line or print them
Now I’m not referring to publicizing our movement or above ground actions, but rather to broadcasting a face with illegal activity. And even if you might not regard something you do as illegal political activity, it’s possible that the state will. The more they have to work to get information the less time they have to hinder our movement.
If I may mix metaphors — there’s a phrase for sex play that signifies when getting carried away with pleasure to say, “Stop” in some manner to signify when a boundary is crossed. “Safe Words” then allow for the play to continue, with accompanied grunts, groans and noises, but allow for a fun time for both parties. So let me put forth as we play “fucking the system” together that we adopt a safe word — or phrase. “Were you born in a barn?” will mean for me, “Please stop talking about sensitive information.” Find your own safe word and have a hot time as they say. We’ll need the heat to counter the intended chill of The NDAA — which goes into effect March 3.