Do they even sell ski masks in Georgia?

I remember when the local anarchists would show up at anti-war protests in Phoenix. They were easy to spot, because they always brought their own bullhorns, they wore ski-masks in August, and they were always trying to climb on top of something they shouldn't be standing on.

There aren't a lot of anarchists in Arizona (and they're not nearly as together as the kids in Salt Lake City), so the non-anarchists among us always viewed them more as a distraction than a contribution. They definitely distracted the news crews -- when it comes to television news coverage, it doesn't really matter how many hundreds of normal people you have protesting a bad war, because the news crew is always going to fixate on the four doofuses in ski masks trying to scale a bus shelter.

I usually avoid the anarchist crowd as overly rhetorical and needlessly trouble-seeking. Which is why it's odd that I'm suddenly rooting for a bunch of anarchists seeking trouble in Georgia. Apparently, a bunch of them tried to storm a bridge to Sea Island today, so they could protest the G8 summit. Protesters hadn't been allowed on Sea Island (or, for the most part, near it), due to the governor of Georgia declaring the area a disaster area before the summit even started. Doing that let the government put all sorts of interesting restrictions on free speech and freedom of assembly, effectively reducing all protests to insignificance.

I'm bothered enough by "free speech zones" that keep protesters away from politicians (they're one of the few things I personally hold against President Clinton for allowing), but preemptive disasters? That's weird and creepy. It's also a horrible precedent that could be used to squelch almost any protest. If that's what protecting the peace and maintaining order requires, anarchy is looking a little less pointless.

If anarchy is the only way to protect the First Amendment, I guess I have to choose anarchy. So, the governor of Georgia is making anarchists seem rational. Remind me never to go to Georgia.

Posted at 11:25:29 PM EDT on 10 June 2004 from Trenton, MI