Political protest, they explained, is more than a reactionary response to a specific issue. It's more than an occupation or a lifestyle. It's a clique.
Anyone can stomp into a protest, sure. They don't actively steal anyone's signs, or even really mention that there's a society. But watch who gets on the podium. Watch whose flyers get circulated. Watch who gets the camera time. Whether it's People's Park in '92, WTO in '00, or Ohio in '01, it's the same exact same people.
A cabal, enforcing a conformity of viewpoints from the fringe, and retaining underground power for their own personal fame? Perhaps. Or maybe it's just these people are just the people who have dedicated their lives to fighting the good fight, and have made the time to travel to wherever protest is needed.
At least, that's what I thought before last night. Then a pack of them walked in, sweaty and loud, and took the big table in the middle of the restaurant. They got the best service there. They noticed me, and, in what seemed like a random decision, asked me if I wanted to be a revolutionary. When I expressed curiosity, they started initiation tests to join their clique.
"Tell me about the last three protests you were at. What would you have changed."
"Improvise a speech on the evils of Burger King."
"Smoke this and tell me how it makes you feel."
"Deconstruct Das Kapital."
"Drink six root beers all at once."
"Eat this worm."
"Wear this hat and run around the restaurant singing Yankee Doodle."
.....and, at that point, I left. I refused to be a part of such a petty group of tiny tyrants. And, on top of that, I couldn't for the life of me remember the lyrics.