When the current protesters–most of them no more than kids–first took to the streets many of you cried foul. They blocked traffic, you said. In fact, three of you in a blue Jeep (license plate number 8JUK695) took it upon yourselves to ram two of them.
This column was initially going to address District Attorney Tim Ward’s lack of a response to the May 30 incident–well after a month’s time has elapsed. Where’s Wardo? Where are any charges, or, in their absence, an explanation?
But–I guess like God–the DA operates on his own timetable and it’s not for the likes of an ordinary citizen to call that into question.
What I can call into question is the attitude some of you out there–and I do mean out there–harbor toward these kids. They are kids. They are exercising their First Amendment rights. Would you prefer it somehow if they were stereotypically apathetic?
I just hope those who can vote come November.
What truly cheeses me off is that, when the focus of the protest shifted to signs being posted on a fence on the campus of El Diamante High School, the attitude many of you harbor did not alter. The kids can’t protest on the street and, apparently, neither can they protest off it.
Suddenly, school property is sacred. Or neutral. Self-entitled elders feel emboldened to tear the signs down–well, some of them. Earlier this week a pack of cowardly middle-aged ladies used the cover of night to accomplish their dirty work.
And now, as I write this, two things: First, the Visalia Unified School District (VUSD) has decided to disallow signage of any stripe on any campus, and, second, the kids have vowed to form a protective human chain on July 3. It is my understanding that they will wait for the police to force the issue and only then comply by removing their own signs themselves.
Because the kids are bigger people than any damned authorities, and their messages of progress–at least in these parts–only go over most of their elders’ heads. Yes, the authorities are merely doing their jobs–but the kids are taking time out of their lives even before their lives have properly started.
These are exactly the type of future citizens we direly need.
The authorities, including the VUSD, and all those elders offended by protest signs should simply ignore them. Instead, I would bet they are only sharpening–perhaps prolonging–the dispute.
I was in the thick of the divestment protest on the Berkeley campus in the mid 1980s. Were I numbered among the administration I would have advised ignoring us. Instead, the police were summoned. A woman right next to me was cracked across the mazzard with a nightstick. Such actions served to stiffen our resolve and we eventually won that fight.
You want to win a battle with impassioned kids? Ignore them.
The Chief and I have raised five human beings. If, during any of their adolescences, a sign of protest was placed on their bedroom door, I would have ignored it. Then, when things had simmered down, I would have discussed the issue with them.
Because they’d still have to cut the grass. Or do the dishes.