I trudged my way along Palm Street getting goose bumps in anticipation of the goose bumps I thought I was about to get. Any minute I thought I’d begin to hear the faint drone of rhythmic chants.
OK, calm down; calm down. Don’t get ahead of yourself. I wanted to feel the ground tremble with the thud of thousands of feet united in protest.
Easy, Shred. Easy.
I imagined seeing the shimmer of flashing red and blue lights from police cars keeping an eye on a crowd united in opposition to authoritarian laws.
Ah, the goose bumps again. Like mice carved from frozen apple juice skittering up my arms.
I could just barely peek over the hill to see where the horde should’ve been marching and saw … nothing. Bummer.
I—like others waiting for hell to unleash at the SLO City Council meeting—had my peepers glued to the “Protest San Luis Obispo’s Unruly Gathering Ordinance” group on Facebook. The number of attendees, Facebook-wise, quickly exploded to 1,195 (primarily students) by the night of the meeting, which would provoke a Gestapo-like crackdown on “unruly” groups of more than 20. Think Mardi Gras, but year ‘round.
But there weren’t any chants or shaking streets or police lights. The street was dead empty—I’m fairly certain I saw a tumbleweed roll by. It would’ve been the loudest noise on the street that night.
“Don’t worry,” I thought, “Maybe I’m too early.” Nope, right on time. “What the hell. I’ll wander inside and plop into a seat for a few to see what happens.” So I did, and more nothing. Sure, the room was packed and a bit younger than usual, but it was hardly a fervent show of support based on what was expected or what was at stake.
All I saw was some poor kid with huge sideburns burying his face in laughter as some boob paraded around in a foam tree costume to promote Arbor Day. Welcome to local politics, buddy.
Perhaps the reason why 1,810 protesters dwindled to a few quiet Cal Poly students sitting politely in a room was because the organizers of the protest essentially stopped the protest. Here’s what they posted a few days before the meeting:
“The word ‘protest’ in the name of this event, I now realize, may have been misleading. We want people *TO* protest by attending the meeting and presenting their view in a respectful and orderly manner; we never intended to organize *A* protest, with rioting and picket signs and all that. … We are not dealing with a nationwide issue, we are only trying to prevent a law from being passed in the city of San Luis Obispo, and any opposition manifested in passionate, irrational sensationalism will only hurt the cause, not help it.”
Whuh? You mean to tell me you could have had nearly 2,000 rabblers clogging the street in opposition of an ordinance intended to keep 20 people from marching in the street? And you want to pull the rug out? And you’re afraid of irrational arguments against an irrational law that seems borderline unconstitutional?
Well guys, your brand of milquetoast demonstrations accomplished nothing. Enjoy the $700 fines.
Admittedly, the neutered activism was set for the same day as the 4/20 stoner holiday. So maybe a bunch of them forgot or got busy staring at their hands before shoving their thumbs up their butts. Maybe this is why Cal Poly students have a reputation for being as impassioned as Henry Kissinger with about half a special brownie coursing through his wrinkled veins.
Breaking up is hard to do
Why won’t you just leave me be, Matt Kokkonen? All I want to do is move on. Every time I think I’m over you, there you are again—never quite where you’re supposed to be. It must be emphasized that Kokkonen is one of the most outspoken conservative Republicans on the California Assembly ticket. The Assembly part is the thing that needs emphasis.
Kokkonen seems to have forgotten the office for which he’s running. Either that, or he’s trying to capitalize on a bunch of pissed off Tea Partiers who may accidentally vote for him because they’ve forgotten what he’s running for.
Kokkonen has been dry humping archetype national issues so much even Republican Chairman Michael Steele is trying to kick this guy off his leg. But little of the Tea Party anger toward Obama and Democrats really applies to California. At least, few of the issues are things a California legislator has much influence over. Kokkonen chose to host a Tea Party rally in Atascadero which (shockingly) drew a substantial crowd on tax day. The protesters were all huffy about Obama and health care, neither of which are issues Kokkonen could really affect as an Assemblyman.
What’s the next hot topic? The war on terrorism? Maybe how global warming is fake? Of course, there’s always the bleeding California budget and a severe stalemate of stubborn party politics. But all that stuff might require actual solutions to actual problems beyond mounting public opposition for irrelevant issues.
I guess it’s no worse than one of his opponents, Etta Waterfield, whose campaign posters say “Etta!” accompanied by a gold star. Unless Waterfield is in the third grade, this just looks like an elementary school poster to highlight “What I did over my summer vacation.” Then there’s Katcho Achadjian, whose “it’s katching on” campaign slogan sounds like some sort of horrifying pandemic.
Back to you, Kokkonen. It’s over. Please leave me be.
The Shredder finds more excitement in laundry than Cal Poly “protests.” Protest the Shredder’s protest at firstname.lastname@example.org.