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: http://bit.ly/87GckE) 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.