Occupy’s Mic Check: A Tactic to Disrupt Power, Not Free Speech

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5 Responses

  1. Replqwtil says:

    Absolutely dead on PJ. I have thought this argument out before as well, but I’ve never been able to articulate it so well.

    From a political science perspective, you might be interested in the work of author Marla Brettschneider. She brings together a lot of critiques against current democratic practice (particularly those rooted in Liberalism) and puts together the outlines of what she calls a Democratic Theory from the Margins (title of a book too!). I used it recently as a framework for analyzing the Occupy movement in a paper, and it has a lot to offer. I highly recommend it, it has a lot in common with the argument you make here.

    I’m very glad you got this back online! I think it is a terrifically important point to be making.

  2. notamused says:

    So, in other words, the law shouldn’t apply to Occupy because its heart is pure and it’s on the right side, even when it prevents someone from speaking because it only interrupts people who are part of the one percent. This is not a new analysis of the law–it’s a childish and entitled case of special pleading.

    • PJ Rey says:

      That is complete misinterpretation of the point made in this piece–a straw man. Concepts of purity and truth have no place in this argument. The central premise is that freedom can only be understood in the context of power. I am claiming that it is disingenuous and, frankly, straight-up counter-intuitive to claim that Karl Rove and the mass of anonymous audience members have equally access to speech. Rove’s power afford him the ability to clear the stage and silence the room whenever he wishes. Due to a lack of power, the 99% must disrupt if they (we) wish to be heard. Were #occupy to have retreated from such strategies, the movement would never have influenced public discourse in the same way.

  3. Gao says:

    And who are the ones to decide which person deserves to be “mic checked”? Are they not some who gain social power within groups such as occupy?, some who through force of personality or through a legitimate or illegitimate authority become leaders or directors of action?

    I’m interested to know how such decisions to disrupt were taken.

  1. 14th December 2011

    […] can only be strengthened by further reference to the social theory canon. The new version is now on Sociology Lens and archived on my personal […]

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