Public Comment

Communicating with BART

By Thomas Lord
Sunday September 18, 2011 - 06:01:00 PM

A relative of mine is a young fellow we call "The Professor" on account of his status as a grad student in economics. Lately The Professor has begun making his case against corporatism including but not limited to the horrible state of the world financial system.

Today news reached his mid-western school of protests on Wall Street. According the Wall Street Journal a group convened for the radical cause of "[drawing] attention to the role powerful financial matters play in damaging the U.S. economy." The protest was colorful and mildly eccentric. It was photogenic and provided a pleasant scene to amuse the bored police officers looking on. No one was harmed and no dinner reservations were lost. Attention was drawn to how the economy is powerfully financial and it matters.

The Professor wondered allowed, "Can't we do any better than this?"

From the other coast I sent word his way. Here is what I had to say:

Dear Professor,

That's pretty abstract to have much mass appeal, isn't it? Their goal is to "draw attention to the role powerful financial matters play in damaging the U.S. economy?" Man, that is some hard hitting bad-ass talk, right there. And what exactly is the credible threat of a successful protest on Wall Street -- the bad guys have to walk an extra block to catch a cab?

For the past several weeks in San Francisco protests have, for some hours during the evening commute, managed to mostly shut down one of the major BART stations. Initially, it was a demand that BART's transit police stop killing passengers and, in fact, disband. That demand stands. Then one of the protests didn't materialize but... where it was expected, BART turned off cell phone service in that station (to thwart "flash mobs"). As a consequence the next protest was especially well attended, successfully shutting down a station, with the added demand to "never do that cell phone thing again, asshats!"  

Then the next week a demand was added for "Spare the Fare Thursdays" -- free commute on Thursdays and they'll shut down a station each Monday during commute unless this demand is also met. The main BART spokesman, meanwhile, admitted to the press that turning off the cellphone service was an idea that came from his office. So, he's on leave of absence and the "group" Anonymous published some photos of this same spokesman at a swinging gay party showing off most of his (quite long!) Johnson. The San Francisco Chronicle is not even entirely taking sides ... more of an "a pox on both your houses" kind of position. The spokesman with the long schlong got back involved to help coordinate a press conference. He wrote scripts to have commuters deliver, rented $872 worth of SUV time (using BART funds) and directed staff to find people on the street who would read the scripts about how the protesters were endangering lives and keeping people away from sick grannies and causing small children to fall below average in their schoolwork. The recruitment attempt was mostly unsuccessful and the SUVs went unused - nearly a grand down the toilet. And the affair was leaked to the press corp who, with one voice, decried "not cricket you well endowed but reckless BART spokesman". 

So, the next one is set for Monday the TV says. 

Yeah, we can do better than that wall street thing. 

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