Outrageous

July 3, 2010

We were alerted to this by a regular commentator to our site here. During the “troubles” at last week’s G20 meeting, it seems that mayoral candidate, Selwyn Firth, was one of the 900 people arrested and jailed. He gives an account of it at the above link.

Although we profiled Mr. Firth a while back in our Meet A Mayoral Candidate series, we cannot say that we know him personally. We exchanged a few emails in preparation for the post and did witness him in person when he spoke at the Better Ballots debate at Hart House last month. So our impression of him is not what you might call anything more than superficial. For all we know, he might be a raving lunatic and fiery anarchist intent on the destruction of our capitalist system.

All signs hardly point in that direction however. Mr. Firth strikes us as far more of the gentle sort, soft spoken, bookish even. He certainly isn’t a big man or an imposing figure. Non-threatening might be the apt descriptor. So to read through his account of how he was man-handled and bullied by our police is nothing short of shocking, frankly.

Are those who we grant the authority to uphold the law and maintain the peace equipped to deal with dissenting voices only by the use of brute force? Surely, Mr. Firth did not present such a clear and present danger to either the welfare of the state or those security forces he encountered that justified the aggressive over-reaction he described. Even if he broke some sort of law which, judging from the confusion and disarray emanating from official circles about the Public Works Protection Act, is in itself highly debatable, was there a need to deal with the many like Selwyn Firth in such an aggressive manner?

As written by Mr. Firth, the police last weekend were not serving and protecting (unless of course we’re talking about matters of property) but rather, intimidating and strong-arming. If those out on the streets last weekend were not doing anything illegal than they should not have been treated as criminals. And even if they were participating in something the police deemed to be against the law, they should’ve been dealt with in a measured, appropriate manner. Mr. Firth may have been annoying and disobedient. He hardly presented much of a security threat.

What may be even more worrisome in this whole sad chapter of the city is the response to the questionable tactics used by both our elected officials and those in charge of keeping the peace on the ground. Protestor’s should’ve listened to what they were being told. They were warned. They got what they deserved. Police did the best they could in trying circumstances…

There is a very strong current of fascism to such sentiments. No, I’m not calling all those who speak and write such things Nazis. I refer instead to the origins of the word.

The Italian name of the movement, fascismo, is derived from fascio, “bundle, (political) group,” but also refers to the movement’s emblem, the fasces, a bundle of rods bound around a projecting axe-head that was carried before an ancient Roman magistrate by an attendant as a symbol of authority and power. [bolding ours]

[A] movement with an authoritarian and hierarchical structure that is fundamentally opposed to democracy and liberalism.

By denouncing the violence perpetrated against property by the group calling itself the Black Bloc last Saturday yet condoning the use of it against people by our police forces, we reveal a disturbing knee-jerk acquiesence to authority and those wielding the most amount of power in our society. When the going gets tough we show ourselves to be, at heart, illiberal and anti-democratic. What we should be most concerned about in the G20 aftermath is not a few broken windows and burnt out police cars. It should be the easy repeal of our civil liberties that occurred at the first sign of inconvenience or dissent.

The arrest and incarceration of Selwyn Firth was highly dubious and very questionable. His physical mistreatment is nothing short of eye-poppingly outrageous.

submitted by Cityslikr