Copenhagen: Police State (Meidell Vs. Doctorow)

This morning saw a rather interesting discussion between my friend and colleague Brian Meidell and esteemed Boing Boing co-editor, Cory Doctorow. The debate is whether Denmark has turned in to a police state, spurned by the world-wide reports of police violence and human rights violations. With permission from Brian, here’s a transcript:

brianmeidell: @doctorow (Re: I’m disappointed – I thought you were smarter than buying into such a ridiculous load of crap.

doctorow: @brianmeidell If by “ridiculous load of crap” you mean “being offended by gross human right abuses” prepare to be disappointed further

doctorow: @brianmeidell And if you mean the indisputable fact of anthropogenic climate change, be prepared to be grossly disappointed

brianmeidell: @doctorow I mean the wildly overblown “brutal new Copenhagen police-state” demagoguery

brianmeidell: @doctorow On the climate change, I am with you 🙂

doctorow: @brianmeidell Kettling thousands of demonstrators in <0 weather for hours without charge until they pissed themselves isn’t police state?

brianmeidell: @doctorow No, it’s the police doing the best they can on a scale they’ve never dealt with before, trying to avoid a repeat of “Ungdomshuset”

doctorow: @brianmeidell Cop15 was announced yrs ago. If the best cops can come up with is “freeze motionless and risk hypothermia” they’re not trying

brianmeidell: @doctorow I didn’t say they weren’t incompetent, but there’s a far cry from that to a brutal malignant police state.

doctorow: @brianmeidell Gross negligence is no excuse for gross, mass-scale human rights abuses.

doctorow: @brianmeidell The Iranian cops could say the same thing: “we beat up everyone because we lack the resources to figure out who to beat up”

brianmeidell: @doctorow Yeah, Denmark is right up there with Iran. I’ll let it rest, but I thought you were capable of more nuance than that.

doctorow: @brianmeidell I’m sure nuance was a great comfort to peaceful protestors who were abused by the thousand. No toilets, but lots of nuance.

doctorow: @brianmeidell What’s a matter, kid, are you freezing because the policeman won’t let you move? Here, have some nuance. It’ll keep you warm.

doctorow: @brianmeidell Don’t worry, it’s not abusive and totalitarian when *we* do it. We’re nice, civilized northern Europeans.

doctorow: @brianmeidell That scalp wound will heal quickly, because we only use nuanced batons to beat protestors in Denmark.

brianmeidell: @doctorow So if pissed pants make all of Denmark evil and totalitarian, what does burning cars and vandalism make the protest movement?

doctorow: @brianmeidell Broken arms, broken bodies, human rights abuses of the innocent majority are not justified by vandalism of the few

doctorow: @brianmeidell It is the mark of a totalitarian state to punish the innocent to get at the guilty

doctorow: @brianmeidell The Geneva Conventions ban collective punishment as an inexcusable and great evil

doctorow: @brianmeidell Forcing people to soil themselves as a form of punishment is also prohibited by conventions banning torture.

brianmeidell: @doctorow So you are incapable of allowing for mistakes being made? People pissing themselves _must_ be intentional and malicious?

doctorow: @brianmeidell Extrajudicial physical punishment by the police for crimes against property is not the hallmark of a free and just society

brianmeidell: @doctorow Protesters burning shit is “of the few”, but a single hair bent on a single protester automatically makes a brutal police state.

brianmeidell: @doctorow You seem to think that the police are perfect and robotic, rather than people capable of fucking up as well as anyone.

brianmeidell: @doctorow People freezing and pissing themselves is most likely a product of poor administration and logistics problems, rather than malice.

brianmeidell: @doctorow If someone did something inordinately stupid, malignant or incompetent, they will probably be punished for it.

doctorow: @brianmeidell You seem to believe that the responsibilities of the state are the same as the responsibilities of the citizenry. They aren’t.

doctorow: @brianmeidell This was the largest climate demonstration in the history of the world. There were small, isolated incidents of vandalism.

doctorow: @brianmeidell Danish police responded by punishing all. Failure in exercise of the state’s monopoly on coercive violence is brutality.

doctorow: @brianmeidell Negligence or abuse in the use of force by law enforcement officers is inexcusable.

brianmeidell: @doctorow Yeah, unlike the previous demonstrations were the police weren’t prepared, and half the city was torched and smashed.

doctorow: @brianmeidell So clearly they learned nothing, as they went into this demonstration unprepared. Gross negligence is malice.

doctorow: @brianmeidell “Some other people, years ago, committed a crime, so we will beat the shit out of you.” That’s fair all right.

brianmeidell: @doctorow Because police violence was just so widespread and rampant. I had to paddle through the rivers of blood to get to work.

brianmeidell: @doctorow And please take that statement and bend it to “so SOME police violent is ok”, like a good demagogue.

doctorow: @brianmeidell “Demagogue,” huh? I thought you were capable of more nuance than that.

doctorow: @brianmeidell I’m not the one apologizing for gross human rights abuses on the grounds that it could be worse.

brianmeidell: @doctorow I’m not apologizing for anything – that would require I even accepted your premise of gross human rights abuses.

Point of note: Brian lives in Denmark and works in Copenhagen and I partook in the up-to-100.000-strong peaceful demonstration Doctorow apparently never heard of (pics here). Pity that a few members of Never Trust A Cop can steal all the limelight.

Danish Smoking Ban: Day 1

Today is the big day for likers of clean air: the first day of the danish public smoking ban. That means no smoking in:

  • busses, schools and institutions
  • locations accessible to the public such as museums
  • all workplaces, with exceptions possible in one-man offices
  • indoor food serving places

In all above cases there’s the possibility of assigning designated smoking areas. Additionally, cafes and pubs smaller than 40 m2 are allowed to decide a smoking policy themselves.

Honestly, I think it sounds fair: smokers can still enjoy their habit, be it outside or in smoking areas. The big difference is, now smokers have to consider non-smokers right to fresh air, where previously non-smokers had to consider smokers right to smoke anywhere.

About damn time. Now we’ll see how this will affect Denmark.

An Inconvenient Truth (2006) Mini-Review

Al Gore used to be the next president of the United States of America. That is, until a court ruled in favor of the conservative choice.

In his movie, An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore presents undeniable research and facts that point to — well — the inconvenient truth that global warming is a clear and imminent threat.

The message of the movie is well understood and received by yours truly — everyone should see this movie for that reason alone. With regards to the movie, it’s scary in an all too realistic way, well-directed, well-cut and generally a very watchable movie. It is, however, a bit too simplistic in its message at times, hence “only” four hearts.

Stream of Consciousness #2

Stream of Consciousness is a process of composing a written equivalent of the thought process. I use this to scribble down inconsistent or incomplete thoughts so as to move on. I’ve done this before.

I’m supposed to be working on my September installment, but I’m either too tired or not quite motivated enough to proceed with it. As long as I have a new header ready for tomorrow, things won’t bork. That’s good.

This last week, or these last two actually, have been rather confusing and busy. Now there’s a drivers license I need to worry about getting. Did you know that most scooters (those that go up to 45 km/h) actually have to drive on the main road and not the part of the sidewalk reserved for bicycles? Most scooters don’t know it either.

I turned on the news tonight. Katrina caused some serious pain and misery. 80% of New Orleans is under water. Hundreds—maybe soon more than a thousand dead. Zap to next news item: panic in a pilgrimage of hundreds of thousands Shia-Muslims causes more than a thousand people trampled to death. Turns out somebody yelled “suicide bomber”. These kinds of news items cause a certain numbness… after all, the pain and misery is far away, and I have a drivers license to worry about.

The day before this I read that the global increase in amount of tropical storms is a direct consequence of global warming. Ironic that I’m now getting a drivers license.

Israel pulled out of their Gaza strip settlements last week. A historic moment for the peace process, although the withdrawal is not quite extensive enough should one read the EU stance on the matter. Let’s hope it brings some peace to both the Palestinians and the Israelis, although I fear it will make only little difference. There’s an inherent problem in the fact that both peoples believe that Jerusalem is their promised land. How do you settle such an argument?

I often find myself wondering if the world would be a better place if the concept of religion did not exist.

I was listening to the Blade Runner soundtrack the other day and was reminded just how great a soundtrack it really is. Then I came to the “End Titles“, and noticed a striking similarity to something I had listened to shortly before. Unusually, I immediately remembered that it was Kraftwerk’sMetropolis“. Upon quick re-inspection there was indeed an uncanny resemblance. Oh, and Allmusic needs login, so get the BugMeNot Firefox extension and save yourself the registration hassle.

Siouxie and the Banshees is also something I’m listening to (as of today). My good friend Tommy introduced me to them, and it’s nothing less than fantastic. I haven’t been this excited about a band since I discovered The Cure. Check out “Cities in the Dust” from Tinderbox.

On the topic of Firefox Extensions, also go grab a copy of Session Saver. It saves your open tabs and textarea contents. It even saved what you’re now reading from a crash.

Today also marks the completion of my Valerian collection. I purchased, expensively I might add, the two remaining comic albums. The collection now spans 19 beautiful pieces. Damn they were hard to track down in Copenhagen, but now I can finally understand the whole story arc. Perfect timing for the animated TV Series which is rumored to air on French channel 3 in September 2006!