It took long enough, but the Occupy movement finally found a venue to confront Barack Obama in. It happened at the start of his New Hampshire speech, and the message, which got drowned out, was this: “Mr. President, over 4000 peaceful protesters have been arrested while bankers continue to destroy the American economy.”
It seems significant that they led with “over 4000 peaceful protesters have been arrested,” ensuring that those words would make it while others were drowned out. Over the last week, the protests have gotten mini-surges of coverage not because of any breakthroughs in messaging, or any development of goals, but because they keep losing out in confrontations with cops. First came the Zuccotti shutdown/clear-out, and then came the pepper-spraying in Davis.
The pepper-spraying of protesters in New York by officer Tony Bologna got the movement its first wave of coverage; the Davis debacle has produced more media moments for Occupiers. Science writer Deborah Blum penned a very well timed piece all about what pepper spray actually is, a couple hours before Megyn Kelly went on Bill O’Reilly’s show and commented that the product “is a food, essentially.” Above, I’ve put up a chart demonstrating how pepper spray compares to chilis. Facts: 1) It is orders of magnitude hotter and more dangerous than anything else that contains capascin and 2) there’s a lot more junk in pepper spray than just chile essence.
What do these discussions have to do with the goals of OWS? Well… they’re orthogonal, aren’t they? We’re hearing much more about the Occupy movement’s clashes and struggles than we are about the changes they want.