Friday, October 24, 2008

Trafficking in Disruption: Insite Supporters Hold Street Party in Rush Hour


I have an insight. The block party Insite supporters held yesterday afternoon was an attempt to embarrass freshly re-elected Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Insite supporters -- particularly the Portland Hotel Community Services Society executives and staff who operate Insite -- don't want Harper to shut down this space where junkies in Vancouver can drop-in to shoot-up. The Harper government is appealing a court decision that the nurse-supervised drug injection site must be kept open because it is a health service to which drug users have a right. The use of tax dollars to finance a cocaine and heroin shooting gallery is enough to make Harper shiver in his trademark sweater vest.

On Thursday, a party was held on the street in front of Insite on the Downtown Eastside in support of keeping the facility open. It was a party against the Conservative party.

The dark green building in the background with people clustered around the door is Insite.

A white tent at the block party in front of Insite housed speakers blasting recorded music and a huge poster with the words, “Play Music Not Politics”. A band was scheduled to play but the cops put a stop to it, as organizers did not have a permit for this rush hour street party.

Don’t ask me how Insite supporters believed they could get public sympathy by suddenly disrupting traffic on the 100 block Hastings St. during rush hour, just after 5 p.m. That’s a six lane — four lanes of moving traffic and two parking lanes — major commuter artery. A witness who arrived early at the party, says there was some traffic flow until police arrived and shut down the entire block, apparently for safety reasons.

Photo: A cluster of Vancouver Police stood on Hastings, a few doors east of Insite, watching the party.

The City of Vancouver had refused the Portland Hotel Community Services Society a permit to hold the party on Hastings at rush hour, but organizers did so anyway. Breaking the law may not be a way for the Portland Hotel Community Services Society to convince Prime Minister Harper, who ran in this month’s federal election on a ‘law and order’ platform, to allow them to continue to operate Insite. (Insite needs the Harper government to renew it’s exemption from the law, an exemption granted temporarily by a previous Liberal government since Insite provides a place for injection of illegal drugs.)

Photo above: Motorcycle cops parked on Columbia St. to prevent cars and buses from traveling onto the 100 block Hastings once the party got going.

Anyone who listens to Vancouver talk radio knows that inconveniencing commuters by blocking traffic on streets and bridges is becoming an issue. This year commuters have demanded to know why police blocked them during rush hour on the Lions Gate bridge for a film crew and for hours on the Second Narrows for somebody threatening to commit suicide.

Photo above: Vancouver Police were preventing pedestrians from using the sidewalk on the south side of the 100 block Hastings, across from the party.

There were lots of placards saying, “Trust the Evidence.” Such slogans are often used by Insite supporters despite the fact that the evidence for Insite has been mixed. Margaret Wente of the Globe & Mail, Canada’s most liberal national paper, wrote a column in July, “We Still Await the Scientific Proof of Harm Reduction’s Success“, outlining just how mixed the evidence is.

The propaganda at the party was effective. There were several black and white posters of children, posters the size of bus shelter images — one of a kid posing with his bicycle, another of a kid posing for what appeared to be a school photo — with captions, “Before they were “junkies” they were kids.”

This party was a made-for-media event, like so many political events on the Downtown Eastside. Lots of media had obviously been notified of the event as they were everywhere taking photos and interviewing people. The mainstream Vancouver media is sympathetic to Insite and tends to accept the prepared scripts they are fed. As media personality Pia Shandel, who opposed the supervised injection site said while a host on CFUN radio, the Vancouver media seem to make up their minds early on to support Insite.

Once media are invited to a political protest on the Downtown Eastside, a crowd is attracted by giving out free food. A couple of hundred poor people lined up at yesterday’s party waiting to be served free burgers. Potato chips and pop were given out later. The line-ups may have been longer if the monthly welfare checks hadn’t come out Wednesday.

Photo above: A man serves burgers wearing a t-shirt reading, “Do what’s right, support insite.”

Note the bars on the windows of the shop in the background. About 20 years ago, I was in a bus going up Main St. and an American tourist said to his fellow travelers in a New Jersey accent, “What do you notice about this city? No bars on the windows.” Now there are bars on most shop windows. Cops say “drug sick” people needing fix are pulling many break-ins.

Photo: As soon as the party started on Hastings St., numerous police moved in and limited it to a couple of lanes. Police refused to allow any traffic onto the opposite lanes, apparently for safety reasons.

Vancouver Police spokeswoman Jana McGuinness said police and other City of Vancouver staff had discussions with the PHS Community Services Society about a less disruptive spot to hold the event. "We offered them a permit on a location 100 feet away on Columbia [Street] where they could party all night if they wanted to", McGuinness said. But these events are above all about attracting public attention to a cause. Disrupting Hastings St. traffic during rush hour, resulting in an inevitable clash with police, could draw more attention and get more press than a party on a side street.

8 comments:

Dag said...

"before he was a junkie he was a kid." Well, fine, most people, to my limited knowledge of these things, were kids at some point. But most people grow up. When they do, that's the end of the story of childhood.

Unless the religious fanatics such as those from Insite and such decide to take it upon themselves to infantalize the population, which they can only do to those too incapable to fight back. If one is a junkie, then one is likely helpless to live the life of an adult, and the Povertarians will then swoop in to "save" people, just like any religious fanatic group who want a captive congregation, not to say anything at all about the money that pours in to finance their hyper-moralisms.

Any adult would tell these Povertarians to go mind their own business; but when poor people, and especially those who are hooked on drugs are the victims of Povertarians, there is no telling them nothing. Too late then. And they'll never let go till the body is cold and the cash runs out.

truepeers said...

Great way to win friends and influence people....

Meanwhile, in Port Moody, there were 132 more than average fits thrown by tired commuters, and hence 67 more children pushed towards a critical anxiety where they start to look for... a fix..

Cocaine should be outlawed and dealers shot up...

But heroin needs to be provided junkies by pharmacists in various locations far away from the Downtown Eastside; take these people out of the hands of the povertarians and the street "bizarre".

Dag said...

When drug abuse is "decriminalised" and made into a "medical issue," then we find that the police are no longer involved in keeping drug abuse to a minimum by force but that instead we have a gang of self-appointed experts acting as "health-care professionals" dealing with people who are literally dying on the streets. Stand aside, folks, the Povertarians are professionals. They can sit by and watch someone shoot up, and if anything goes wrong, then the medical pro can call 911. WOW! They can do that because they are "concerned."

If we ignore the fact that adults have adult lives they could be living, lives they choose not to live, lives they will not live if they live at all, then fine, let the professional baby-sitters rule the lives of those they feed. Infantalisation. People are turned into infants, not allowed to feed themselves without the povertarians providing the food cooked and on the plate. No adult would choose to live like that, and only the most far-gone put up with it because of the povertarian control of the lives of the addicted, control given to the pro.s by the state as surrogate parents.

This problem is made by the state. This problem is paid for by the tax-payer. The final bill is presented to the dying, replaceable, of course, with another "victim." Just keep 'em comin'.

Sick of Vancouver said...

This is the moronic way of thinking by these people. Disrupt traffic and peoples lives to gain what? Support? Even one more reason to shut, no burn, the place down.

Dag said...

Well, S.o.V., I can appreciate your position here, but....

At least from my point of view, the answer to this problem of infantalization of the public, not limited to the drug-addicted but the mass of the nation's citizenry, is to reclaim our adulthood: to stand up and refuse to allow the continuance of this collectivist oppression of the people. We, adults, are individualist or we are not individualists but communitarians, i.e. infantalized by the Gnostic minders of Povertarianism. Who the fuck are these people? Who elected them Philosopher Kings? Monkey on your back? Well, there are some well -known names for such monkeys.

Yes, I can empathize with your frustration, but let's get real, in the real world, and then do something adult to topple this sand-castle collectivist prison of social engineering.

You and others can do concrete actions to stop the Povertarians. But if you do so, if you try, you might well face the same-- or worse-- treatment than that meted out to Bill Simpson and Rachel Davis, among others. Ask what you are prepared to ose in order to gain your personal freedom rather than to risk losing it.

Social activism is the key. Take back your life, as a start, from these missionaries, these religious fanatics who will not pause in their crusade to crush all opposition to their campaign to create Heaven on Earth, they being the new priesthood. Talk to your friends. You'll figure it out as you go along.

Control of our individual life. Get it back. That's what adults do, and what people must regain from the velvet control by fascist Povertarian religious fanatics.

Dag said...

There are a couple of ways of understanding the nature of the meaning of life, separate and conflicting, that lead to our currently divided society: there is the collectivist vision, that we are all one; that people are nothing without other people to give them meaning and identity; that people who need people are the luckiest people in the world. Yes, we are the children of the world. And there is the vision that man is himself, makes himself according to what he decides is better for him by his ow lights than what is demanded or even commanded of him by the state, by experts in how to live another's life. The latter one might call Gnostics, those who feel they have a greater insight into what is a good life for all, and who gather the powers of the state to enforce their visions onto the personal lives of the "masses."

When you were a child, your guardians, whether parents or not, probably had some better idea of how you should live your life than you did a s a child. They, in turn, had less an idea than the rulers of the state and nation, i.e. those in charge of maintaining the order of society, e.g. politicians, university professors, journalists, and so on, those one might dismiss today as Philosopher Kings. Yes, some experts certainly do know much and valuable much at that. Your parents knew too much and valuable about your life when you were a child, no doubt. But they none of them knew enough to live your life for you. Sometimes the expert, government or even your parents, just don't get it, thinking they know your needs better than you can ever know anything about anything at all. Your life is held "in loco parentis," in the place of the parent by surrogates. Comes a time you should grow up and live your own life. Should come a time when you leave them and they leave you alone. Often that doesn't happen: you become, as an adult, infantalised by the state and its minions. At adulthood, you are removed from the controls of schools and put into the control of the world by direct government. You never grow up to be mature adult. You never become a full individual: you are made into one sliver of the masses.

How many times have you heard from the social minders a slogan such as this: "The common good before the individual good"?

One hers this, or variations of, at any meeting of Povertarians: Give back to the community. We are all one big family. No one is more important that the group.

"Gemeinnutz vor Eigennutz."

You might want to look up that slogan to see where it comes from and why you just might not like it.

To give you a head start, I'll give a hint: It is the slogan of the Nazi state.

If you don't like the way thing go, it could be that you don't like this "Velvet Fascism" of the Povertrians taking care of all your needs. Maybe you really don't want to be a part of the herd of Human farm animals the minders would make you part of. Maybe you're an adult.

"Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice."*

Conformity hippies will lead us astray from our own intuitions of the Good. Who are these religious fanatic Povertarian communalists to know our lives better than we who live them? Walk away.

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."*

"Gemeinnutz vor Eigennutz."

Your choice.

*Quotation above come from Henry David Thoreau.

truepeers said...

Maybe you're right, Dag.

But actually I think of my above as arguing for the reduction of povertarians. We today have a huge industry built around the poverty and crime of the Downtown Eastside junkies. All I would suggest it that addicts who could otherwise live some kind of functional life - i.e. heroin, not cocaine addicts - just be given some dope and nothing else from the state. Just get them away from the DE and maybe some will save themselves.

It is as an alternative to the costly throwing them in jail, or to their despoiling the view on the streets, that our liberal state encourages all kinds of povertarian mediation.

Yes there is a strong argument for cops keeping people in line instead of social workers, but under the present order we have a ton of petty crime and a lot of organized crime which could be reduced, and cops who only cry out for more help from the povertarians.

Our choice is only ever the lesser of evils.

Dag said...

A friend asked me some time ago how I know when I'm living in a police state. I think, off the top of my head, that one can know the police state by the fact that one might have a full array of "internal policemen," i.e. have a fully developed conscience and a strong moral sense and still live in continuous fear of arrest by state force. When normal and decent people are afraid of arrest by the state in spite of being normal and decent, then one can assume they live in a prison state.

Who mediates the moral in a police state? Not the moral person. That is outside the person's private control. There is no moral agency outside the state. There is only orthopraxy. The state is arbiter of the moral; and the state is not some ephemeral ghost in a concrete and glass machine but is entirely made of people, some of them arbiters of the moral as they define it. Thus, as Voegelin, (via Truepeers) has me thinking, the minder-arbiters are Gnostic. Given, then, that concurrently they are communitarians, the Gnostic minders of the masses, (so-called) --under the aegis of a superiour insight known only through their self-given and peer-given expertise-- infantalise the masses under the rubric of Povertarianism, a duplicitous moralism and a hypocritical religiousity "for the pseudo-Utilitarian greater good of the greater community". By what authority? By state sanction and peer-reviewed moral superiourity, ultimately self-assumed and self-conferred, i.e. not based on other than approved association of the like-minded. One is therefore moral if one is approved of by the state sanctioned group who think group-think. The individual is not important. The individual is the enemy, in practice, as one who threatens group solidarity, a serious infraction of the tribal ethos:

"Gemeinnutz vor Eigennutz."

I ask: "Who elected them Philosopher Kings?"

Who set up the Povertarian communalists as minders over those who have no money or means? Who sets aside those who cannot or will not live their own live as private persons? Who demands that the person be an adult child of the state? Why this particular epistemology? That there are those too incapable of living independently to the point they must be minded by the state down to the micro-personal level though they have committed no actual common crime? This comes from the fascist mind of the collectivist who assumes (from attitude) that there are those who are Gnostic, i.e. those who have a special insight into the nature of things, whether by gifts of Nature or by years of expert training, e.g. a B.F.A. in Fine Arts, those who are, in Platonist terms, Golden; and there are those who are the masses, the Leaden, those in need of protection from life's hard realities, held from them for their own good, by the Philosopher Kings.

Even those who are severely drug-addicted have a right to hurt for it, to suffer because of it. That is the right of any and all adults. To deny people the right to suffer for their lives is to infantalise.

The state that refuses to allow suffering and enforces public moralisms on the private masses by virtue of Gnostic insights by expert minders is a police state demanding orthopraxy. It is, or it should be, intolerable to the average adult, even those who live in ghettos. But, a a matter of seeming sophistication, the people allow the unfettered practice of the "Ludovico Treatment," i.e. the social engineering of scientistic minders who enforce, by chemistry or fear, good behaviour, taking from those who might otherwise be, good or bad, who they would choose to be. It's a matter of respect for Humanness: if one has none, then one can easily slip into the role of Gnostic minder of the masses, acting as Philosopher King, dispatching those who refuse to mind, and replacing them with the malleable. It's a matter of how one views Free-Will. The Gnostic minders refuse to accept it. Those who allow it to be taken from them, those who flee from adulthood, those who subject themselves to the Ludovico Treatment for a free" bowl of soup, have sold themselves in helotry in the Spartanist collectivism of poverty and slavery. A shame and a crime. Better to choose to be immoral than not to have any choice at all but to jump through hoops at the call of the minders at dinner time.

I know I'm living in a police-state when I see Rachel Davis and others harassed by this state of things.