“How about we blow up the car?” – the dangers of broadening the debate

BOB, MANDY, REBECCA, and FRANKIE gather for a family meeting to make an IMPORTANT DECISION.

MANDY: Right, shall we get started? As you all know, we’ve decided it’s time we get ourselves a second family car. The question is what car do we get? I’m sure we all have some strong opinions. This is why we thought it would be right to have a broad, open and honest debate on the subject. Frankie and Rebecca, you said you would bring together all the options under consideration. Are you ready to tell us?

FRANKIE: Um. I think so. Should I just, like, read them all out?

MANDY: That’d be perfect.

FRANKIE: Ok. Well, Dad suggested option one should be a brand new Vauxhall Ampera–

BOB: A great car. A hybrid, modern, stylish–

MANDY: Hold on, Bob. Allow Frankie to tell us all the options first. Frankie?

FRANKIE: Thanks. Yeah. Uh, the second option, suggested by Mum, is a, um, second-hand 2005 Kia Sedona–

MANDY: Yes, very sensible. Does what we need it to and it won’t cost the earth. When approaching this decision, I think it’s important to–

FRANKIE: Um. Sorry. But I haven’t said all the options yet.

MANDY: Of course, pardon me. Please continue.

FRANKIE: Uh, for the third option, we, me and Rebecca, thought we could, like, blow up the car?

BOB: What?

MANDY: Come again?

FRANKIE: Uh, blow up the car.

MANDY: The car we have?

FRANKIE: Yeah.

BOB: Why on earth would we do that!?

REBECCA: We’re not saying we’d do it! You said you wanted a proper debate! But the choice was, basically, between getting car A or car B – that’s not much of a choice!

BOB: Rebecca, that’s because we want another car. Blowing up the car we actually have is not going to help!

REBECCA: You said you wanted a proper debate! A proper debate needs a proper range of options. You can’t just say choose between this thing I want or something a bit like the thing I want! What’s the point!?

FRANKIE: You did say you wanted a proper debate, Dad.

MANDY: Ok, ok. Calm down everyone. Let’s keep blowing up the car as an “option”, yes? We don’t have to pick it, we just know it’s there. Let’s move on, shall we? Ok? Ok. Option one. Who wants to talk about the hybrid. Bob?

BOB: Hm. Fine. I think the Vauxhall is the best option. Sure it’ll cost a bit more up front–

MANDY: More than a bit, don’t you think?

BOB: It’ll cost more up front, but the money we save over time on petrol and tax will more than offset that. Eventually. Plus, we can finally get the nice, modern family car with all the latest features and comforts. We always wanted that, yes? And you know it’ll last a lot longer too. Not to mention how environmentally-friendly it is. That’s a big thing, nowadays. Being green. Isn’t that right?

FRANKIE: Yeah, sounds good.

REBECCA: Uh. I can see the benefits.

MANDY: That sounds lovely. But, honey, we do have to be realistic. That car will require us to take out a big loan. We’ll be paying it off for a long time. We could go to the second-hand lot tomorrow and pick up a very reliable, almost-new car. Yes, the Kia won’t be as fancy, but it’d do the job. We want something the kids could learn to drive in without worrying about bumps and scrapes. Right? Not the mention that the money saved could be spent on holidays, or improving the house. There’s a lot more to life than a posh car and I don’t want us to lose sight of that.

FRANKIE: Um. Good point.

REBECCA: Yeah.

BOB: Well, honey, I really think you’re overstating the cost–

FRANKIE: Wait. Uh. We still haven’t discussed the third option.

BOB: What? Do we need to? I thought we decided–

REBECCA: You said–

BOB: But it’s completely stu–

MANDY: Bob. Fine. We did say we’d do this properly. Rebecca, do you want to make the case for blowing up the car?

REBECCA: Well, I’m not saying we should definitely do it. But, you know, it would be the most cost-effective option. I mean, it wouldn’t cost a thing really. And we’d save a lot more money in the long run. Also, having no car at all is better for the environment than having one or two, isn’t it? Yes, there’ll be a bit of pollution as we burn it to a crisp, but that’s nothing compared to running a car every day…

FRANKIE: Plus, I think it’d be cool to see a car get blown up.

REBECCA: We could also do it immediately. Like, right now.

MANDY: Ok. Well. Case well made, Rebecca. Let’s talk a bit more about the Kia–

REBECCA: Isn’t anybody going to make a counter argument to blowing up the car?

BOB: No!

REBECCA: Why not!?

BOB: Because it’s the stupidest bloody idea I’ve ever heard! End of.

REBECCA: There you go again trying to shut down the debate! This isn’t fair. You’re not even taking this seriously!

BOB: Of course I’m not taking this seriously! Blowing up the car!? Are you mad!?

REBECCA: I’ve already made the arguments in favour of blowing up the car! You’re the one who hasn’t been able to come up with a single reason why we shouldn’t!

BOB: Why would I waste of time arguing against something so preposterous!? It isn’t even worth thinking about!

REBECCA: That is so typical of you–

MANDY: Rebecca! Enough. Bob, you can surely spend half a minute explaining why blowing up the car is not a good option.

BOB: Really? You really want to indulge this nonsense?

MANDY: In the interest of simply moving on, yes I think you should.

BOB: Fine! Blowing up the car is a foolish bloody idea because we need a car. In fact, the point of this whole silly debate is that we need two cars. Not one car. Not zero cars. Two. Blowing up the car will not give us the result we want. It will – suffice to say – give us nothing except the burnt out wreck of a car. It is madness. And anyone who is not a complete idiot would clearly agree with me!

MANDY: Bob!

REBECCA: And there you go again! Trying to shut down the debate with your… your derision and your, um, ad hominem attacks! It’s impossible to have a real discussion when you’ve already made up your mind and don’t listen to a single word I say!

MANDY: Rebecca, please calm down. I think we’re just both having a hard time understanding why you want to blow up the car.

REBECCA: I’m not saying I do want to blow up the car! Only that if we want to have a proper debate we need to consider blowing up the car as one of the options!

FRANKIE: I would quite like to blow up the car.

BOB: Frankie!

FRANKIE: What? I haven’t heard a good reason why we shouldn’t. I don’t need a car.

BOB: But we do! And how would you get to see your friends and go places if we don’t drive you in a car.

MANDY: This is getting a bit heated. Bob, maybe you could calmly and clearly make the case for why, when it comes down to it, we need a car?

BOB: Are you joking? We’re no closer to deciding what second car to get and you want me to waste more time on this subject?

REBECCA: Hah! So like you…

MANDY: Quickly. Please.

BOB: We need a car because people need cars!

REBECCA: Circular logic. Typical…

BOB: Very well. We need a car because we sometimes – often – have to go places that are too far to walk and we might also need to take things with us that are too large or too heavy to carry by hand–

FRANKIE: You can get carts that you can attach to bikes for carrying things.

REBECCA: That’s true. And I know lots of people who don’t have their own cars and get around fine.

BOB: For crying out loud, kids. No. No more. This is nonsense.

REBECCA: Are you denying the existence of carts you can attach to bikes?

BOB: What? No–

REBECCA: Are you calling me a liar?

BOB: No! I’ve just had enough arguing about this!

REBECCA: You wanted a debate–

BOB: Jesus Christ! Mandy, can we just make a decision. Vauxhall or Kia. I don’t even care which anymore…

MANDY: Bob, we did promise we’d include everyone in the decision. And.. um…

BOB: What?

MANDY: Well, all this talk has made me wonder whether we do need two cars after all. I mean, we definitely want one car. Don’t get me wrong. I really don’t think we should blow it up (but, of course, I am glad we heard everyone’s opinion and discussed the possibility of doing so). After all, maybe we can get one of those carts for the bike and you can use that instead of a second car?

BOB: You’re as crazy as the kids. We all agreed we wanted a new car. That wasn’t even supposed to be part of the debate!

MANDY: I do not appreciate that tone, thank you very much. When the facts change, I change my mind. You should try to be more open-minded, Bob.

BOB: What facts have changed!? This is absurd!

MANDY: The fact that I no longer want a new car. I’m perfectly happy with the current one we have.

BOB: But–

REBECCA: Shall we make our votes?

FRANKIE: I vote to blow it up.

BOB: You–

MANDY: I vote to keep the current car and not waste any of my money on a new one that I won’t even drive.

BOB: That isn’t even an option!

REBECCA: Dad’s right, mum. You have to pick one of the options on offer.

MANDY: Very well. In that case I vote to blow up the car.

BOB: Have you lost your mind!?

MANDY: It’s exactly that attitude, Bob, which is why people are voting against you.

BOB: I–

REBECCA: I’m going to vote for–

BOB: Rebecca, please. I’m begging you. Don’t vote to blow up the car. I’m sorry I was rude. Really really sorry. I know you’re clever and sensible. Please make the right choice. Please.

REBECCA: I’m voting for the Kia.

BOB: Yes! Good good. Me too! That’s what I’m voting for! The Kia Sedona. A decent, solid car.

REBECCA: For the record, that’s what I was always going to vote for. I only wanted to make sure we had a proper debate. That’s all.

MANDY: That’s two for the Kia and two for blowing the current car up.

MR & MRS JONES: Ahem. We also vote to blow your car up.

BOB: What are our neighbours doing here?

REBECCA: You said you wanted a proper open debate. I invited them to take part so we could get a broader range of voices involved.

BOB: They don’t even like us!

REBECCA: That’s not the point!

BOB: No, no, no, no, no. We can’t have just anyone waltzing in here deciding to blow up our bloody car!

REBECCA: You’re just upset because you lost the vote!

BOB: It doesn’t even affect them!

MR JONES: Well, I do have to say, it does affect us as we all park on the same street and one less car will mean more space for us. So, certainly, yes. Two more votes for blowing your car up, if you please.

BOB: I can’t believe this.

MANDY: That means four votes for blowing the car up against two for getting the Kia. I’m sorry, love.

FRANKIE: Yes! This is going to be amazing!

BOB: What the hell just happened?

MANDY: Don’t worry, darling. I don’t think they’ll really blow up the car. It just represents a definitive vote against getting the second car, that’s all. Everything will be fine. You’ll see.

FRANKIE: I’ve got matches!

THE END

Advertisements

Missing the Point of the Occupy Protests

Fuck the 99%, this dude speaks for EVERYONE

With the threat of eviction looming over the Occupy St. Paul’s protesters and the forces of America PD already coming down hard on its trans-atlantic primogenitors, we may be witnessing the final days of a movement said (by particularly deluded or insensitive supporters) to rival the Arab Spring.

It’s been a confusing and potentially alienating journey for spectators. I mean, I’ve always assumed I supported things like social justice, fairness, a more equal society, and so on. But I quickly grew frustrated and annoyed by the London occupation.

Recently, I voiced my concerns and criticisms, only to be told I’m “missing the point”. That troubled me. Was my feeble brain incapable of comprehending how brilliant, worthwhile and successful Occupy has been? Were my peers headshotting the point between the eyes at abandon, while I stood apart, aimlessly spraying my sympathy-bullets into the surrounding scenery like some n00b meat-puppet playing Goldeneye?

Fortunately, it seems I wasn’t such a freak. A quick Google search revealed the point to be as elusive as the Pokemon Mew . Actually, that analogy doesn’t quite fit. While there were a lot of people, like me, being told they were missing the point, there wasn’t much agreement on what exactly we were missing.

For example, the REAL point of the Occupy movement is, depending on who you ask (or don’t ask, as the case may be)…

Asking rhetorical questions…

“you are missing the point about that sign. I don’t think it is an attack on those people, I think it is an attack on what this society considers as freedoms. The purpose of it is to get people to question what freedom really is. Freedom is a word that gets used a lot by politicians and we all like to think we live in a free society. But do we?”

History is Made at Night

Solving a crime…

“The lack of an “agenda” or a lack of a coherence to the aims of the protestors is missing the point… A crime has been committed but the only clue they have is that it is something in the City and this thing in the “City” has made them a victim of a crime they don’t understand and it has cost them their job/home/car whatever… They are coming back at a perpetrator that government has failed to bring to book but in the hall of financial mirrors they don’t know where exactly to aim or exactly who to aim at for but they know roughly where the perpetrators hang out.”

CityWire

Rejecting democracy…

“I agree with your first part of the argument, the vinyl vanguards looking for a single unifying anthem of youth are missing the point. Occupy London are not representative of a single sub-culture, or even a shared ideology. Like you say, this is about a rejection of conventional politics.”

New Statesman

Rejecting debates…

“[One member of the camp] said Chartres’s [Bishop of London] earlier suggestion of a debate was “missing the point of this global occupation”.

The Guardian

Totally, like, opening up space in people’s imaginations, man…

“Screeds of criticism have now been written about the protest and on almost every point, they misunderstand the purpose of this form of street protest. Is this a revolution in the making? Of course not. Will it topple the government? No… The protesters’ aim is to open up space, physically and socially, for people to connect and thereby open up space in people’s imaginations.”

The Guardian

Setting up a camp site (while not making demands)…

“These questions miss the point… they’re not interested in making petty demands on a system they see as irreconcilably flawed. If anything, the camp itself is their demand, and their solution: the stab at an alternative society that at least aims to operate without hierarchy, and with full, participatory democracy.”

Patrick Henry Press

Not having an impact on its target…

“The purpose is not to directly affect your target. It is to rally support for your cause.”

Boardgame Geek Forums

Protesting for the right to protest…

“Anyone active on the left might be tempted to judge it and find it wanting in any effort to challenge capitalism, but that would be to miss the point. Understanding what it represents not judging it is the essential task. Here an historical framework can help and several models come to mind, the first of which is the symbolic occupation of space… All these instances are about winning the right to protest in certain spaces and that is certainly what has happened at St Paul’s in recent weeks.”

Morning Star Online

Attracting people who are temporarily pissed off…

“…enthusiasts for the action say this misses the point of the encampment – to provide a permanent focal point for dissent, not a home for an unchanging cast of campaigners.”

BBC

Having a wider, deeper conversation OR Acting as some sort of weather vane for human sentiment…

Even people accusing other people of missing the point are, apparently, missing the point:

Article: “The political [Labour] left have – in several places – criticised the Occupy movement for the lack of clarity in their aims. For me, this misses the main point the movement is trying to make… Since the crash showed us all the man behind the curtain, protestors are no longer simply trying to stop or promote particular actions or policies. They’re now trying to have a wider, deeper conversation about what happens now the house of cards has fallen.”

Comment: “I think this article misses the point entirely. The occupy movement is a spontaenous ensemble. The idea it has to forge itself into a lean mean fighting machine is not what it is about. Its about, for me at least, a weather vane about current sentiment and about what that current sentiment might become.”

Liberal Conspiracy

And the actual point is… our secret (so there!)

Maybe the point is they don’t want to tell us the point? The following (genuine, non-satirical) quote from an Occupy Wall St. activist writing on CiF certainly suggests so…

First, they come to us demanding, “What are your demands?” Then, they come to us insisting, “Where are your solutions?” We have waited our entire lives for this moment. And we could not be more ready to answer these questions. We smile, unphased, and tell them what they already know: “Our demands are too numerous to choose between, and we refuse to do so. The solutions are out there and we have long known what they are.”

Comment is Free

All this makes me suspect that I was right all along and it’s the protesters who are missing the point, NOT ME. But if you think I’m going to persecute myself by telling you what that point is… well, I might have to let my foot occupy the space between your left butt cheek and your right butt cheek. Purely to engage with you on a deeper level, of course…