What's the Matter, Protesters? You Aren't Afraid of John Wiley Price, Are You?

Oh, man. You guys call that a protest? You went down there yesterday to tell the Dallas County Commissioners Court what you think of them, and they slapped the spit out of your mouths. Told you to sit down and be quiet. And you did.

People, that's just embarrassing.

It's why we can't have protest movements in Dallas. People here are too obedient. Gay rights, black activism, Tea Party -- doesn't matter. There's something in the water. If the mob in Tahrir Square had been made up entirely of members of the Dallas Tea Party, all Mubarek would have had to do to shut the thing down was tell them all to go sit in time-out.

That's what Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins did yesterday. People got up to criticize the commissioners court over last week's John Wiley Price outburst ("You are all white. You can go to hell.") Jenkins told them to sit down and be quiet. So they did.

Apparently Jenkins has shifted from a policy of running his meetings as middle-school lunch-room free-for-alls to a policy by which members of the public are not allowed to say anything he deems critical of the commissioners, individually or as a body, at all, whatsoever.

Funny. I just came across a similar policy in a book I'm reading called The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom, by Evgeny Morozov. He's talking about laws in Thailand that make it illegal to publish anything critical of the Thai royal family, including doing so on blogs or by Twitter.

The Thai government invented an ingenious mechanism for enforcing the law, a website that encouraged citizens inform on each other by sending links to Internet sites that contained illegal criticism of the royals. The author claims Thai police were able to shut down 5,000 illegally critical sites in the first 24 hours that the site was set up in 2009. (It was called, but the address now goes to a British financial services site.)

You know what's scary? If Jenkins put up a site called, I worry that most of the Dallas Tea Party would turn itself in out of sheer obedience.

People, you got to shut the commissioners court down. Down! Shut it down! You can't be such wimps. When you wuss out like that, you're just encouraging them to be even worse. Look what happened. Now Jenkins thinks people are only allowed to talk if they express flattery of the court.

Is that where you're going to leave it? You know, I hate to say it, because it's stereotyping, which I know is not right, but the first time I saw one of you guys on TV in a three-cornered hat, I thought, "These people are not a factor."

Be real. Do something real. Pastor Stephen Broden was down there. What about all that big talk during your congressional campaign, Pastor? You know what I'm talking about.

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze