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    The design of peaceful brutality

    Javier Arbona-Homar
    Nov 11, '11 1:03 PM EST

    Dear Robert J. Birgeneau, Chancellor (UC Berkeley),

    I wanted to express my concern for your troubles, sir. Your message is not getting across and your power is in jeopardy. First of all, the Associated Press characterized the brave actions taken by the police in front of the storied Sproul Hall on Wednesday as “nudging.” But as I saw it—in person—the police had no choice except to rescue, as peacefully as possible, three hostage tents from "Occupy Cal." And they did so without “nudging” a single soul on that lawn.

    You were correct to point out in your Nov 10, 2011 email that, what you called the "not non-violent" actions taken by the occupiers, put the police in considerable harm—liberal media be damned! In truth, protesters were confronted by the police with what you should be innovatively messaging as "peaceful brutality." Example: "The REI tents were liberated using peaceful brutality."

    Second of all, and more worrisome, is the real threat posed by protesters like those to the kind of wealth and power you posses. Your pay scale has certainly nudged you into the 1 percent, I take it. You offered the protesters to have "a week," for “gathering and discussing the issues” (but without camping). Why? To discuss issues such as your "bloated salary," as I heard people call it? One week too many, I say! Gathering and discussing sounds an awful lot like “teaching” and “learning.” The protesters, it became all too obvious, want to teach and learn for more than one week. And that, sir, is dangerous. Don’t give an inch. I think there is a more sustainable solution...

    Build a design enacting peaceful brutality. Ensure that teaching and learning go on as little as possible at UC Berkeley. Erect a multi-story parking garage, with tennis courts on top, in front of Sproul Hall. Throw in a coffee store on the ground floor, and call it "the Occupy Cal Café" for good measure, like we already did with the "Free Speech Movement Café." The bond rating agencies will applaud such a move, the regents might give you a salary increase, and the architecture critics will praise our collaborative efforts. I would be happy to speedily send along schematic plans. My fee schedule is attached.


    Le Courvoisier

    [photo: Robert J. Birgeneau, from Canada2020

    Author's note: A previous version of this letter was titled "The design of peaceful force." I renamed it to better convey the convoluted nuances typical of the Chancellor's discourse.

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About this Blog

A bezoar is a mass of disparate pieces and materials. For this blog, you will find something somewhere between tweet-length posts and tumblelogging; inchoate thoughts; provocations and assorted scraps that don't fit anyplace else; criticisms of a political and geographic variety; ecoaffective ramblings; spatial imaginaries that don't conform. On Twitter: @AlJavieera; 1/3rd of @Demilit; bookmarked content: @AJFavorite.

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