Sunday, October 2, 2011

"You Are Killing All Our Geese!" ("Class Warfare?")

Although this journal is focused on our city's irrational and diabolically cruel war on resident Canada geese still surviving in city parks, the bureaucratic actions are actually symbolic of many  things gone wrong in government and culture.  It seems the average citizen "on the street" has very little say or influence these days in terms of governmental policies and more often than not, is kept in the dark or even lied to.
Certainly that has been true regarding the killings of the geese.
In almost all cases, the roundups and slaughters are planned in bureaucratic secrecy and conducted with little or no "community notification" or input.   They are often carried out in the wee hours of the mornings to avoid possible eyewitness accounts or media coverage.
Those people visiting parks and suddenly noticing that all the geese are gone usually attribute the disappearances to natural phenomenon such as migration or "pond hopping." 
We don't like to think that our city or government would engage in senseless and barbaric programs of mass destruction of park wildlife or that the parks themselves would be party to such eradication and banishment campaigns.
But, even in those cases where the media covers the story and people are aroused to protest, such protests usually fall on deaf ears.
Last year, for example, (thanks to a tip from alert park-goers) the NY Times covered the Prospect Park goose gassings, as did other media outlets.
More than a thousand people responded with comments to several Times articles, more than 600 signed up with a special FB page set up to defend the geese and several well attended rallies and demonstrations were held around NYC to protest the slaughters and advocate for the geese.
But, all of that did not stop further goose roundups from occurring this year -- even though it is quite clear that the NYC goose population has already been decimated from the killings that have been occurring throughout the last decade.
The only things that actually "changed" this year were the manner in which the geese were killed,   (They were sent to a Pennsylvania slaughterhouse this year in what clearly was a "PR" move designed to convince the public the geese were being "donated for charity.") and they were not rounded up from Prospect Park.
While it could be interpreted as a small victory that geese were not rounded up from Prospect Park this year, the fact is that there were few geese to actually kill from the park (less than 30) and there were political considerations, such as a new PP Director (Emily Lloyd) who didn't need to be greeted with bad PR her first year on the job. One could also make the argument that Prospect Park is more than 7 miles from the nearest airport, but that did not stop the city and USDA from killing the geese there last year.
The bottom line is that "public protest" had very little or even no effect on the city and government plans to virtually wipe out or make every resident goose still surviving in NYC "disappear."
But, we are beginning to reach a point where many citizens are becoming disgusted with governmental policies that perpetually disregard and disrespect the will and desires of the people.
Thousands of citizens are now camping out in streets and walking across bridges to make that disgust known.
I am of course referring to the "Occupy Wall Street" rallies that have been happening for the past several weeks and for the most part, attracted very scant media coverage until now.
The rallies are not about geese of course.
 I am not actually sure if the rallies have a particular focus or rather, represent a wide-sweeping and general unhappiness and malaise with government policies that favor corporate and special interests over the needs and wants of the average citizen and even the planet itself.
As noted, media has given very short shrift to the rallies and the issues being protested (as it gave little or no coverage to the rallies for the geese) so it is difficult to discern the actual specifics and goals of the protesters.
But, media does cover when people get arrested.
Yesterday, more than 700 protesters were arrested for crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, apparently spilling over to the vehicular side of the bridge.  (Vehicular traffic had to be shut down for several hours.)
According to many of the arrested protesters, police encouraged and even escorted marchers as they spilled over to the car portion of the bridge -- only to then surround them with the orange netting (that we are so familiar with in goose roundups), zip-tie and arrest them for trespassing.
I was not obviously at the rally so cannot speak to specifics.
It is interesting however, that some of the same equipment used to "corral" and entrap geese is also used to "corral" and prevent people from escaping.
That is a little scary.
Later reports indicate that the arrested protesters were ticketed and released.  The tactics and arrests were probably done more to intimidate than anything else.
But, even that is scary.
Should the right to free speech and protest be something to be "intimidated" and thwarted as opposed to being encouraged in a democracy?
For those otherwise law-abiding, young people attempting to legally speak out for needed or desired changes and reforms in government, should "arrest" be something on their records?
One understands it is the job of the police to maintain law and order. And a busy city needs to be able to keep running, despite any protests.
But, it also should be the job of the police to let protesters know the bounds before possible arrests could occur.
It doesn't seem that many of the people arrested actually were aware that such could occur and that seems to represent a breakdown in communications or something perhaps more foreboding and sinister somewhere along the line.
A couple of weeks ago, our Mayor Bloomberg warned of possible "riots" in New York City due to peoples' frustrations with lack of jobs, the economy and other issues.  At the time I wondered if the mayor was just being paranoid and "over-reactive" as he seems to be about almost everything else -- especially the geese.
But, now I am not so sure.
I just don't think our Mayor has any clue on what people are actually pissed off about.
We have, after all, had bad economy before and high unemployment and people don't usually "riot" in the streets.
What does tick people off however, is when we make attempts to participate in government, communicate, obey the laws and when necessary, legally protest and we are neither listened to or worse, lied to or even threatened with arrest.  Those kinds of things could ultimately result in "riots" in the streets.
This is supposed to be government by the people and for the people.
But, too often it has become government by and for special interests, lobbyists, billionaires, and corporations.
The "will" of the people doesn't seem to matter much anymore.
Returning to the issue of the geese, most often they are rounded up and killed, not because of representing any actual "threat" to airliners, but more truthfully because they pose an "inconvenience" to golf courses or rich boaters or lake front property owners.
And if it is a contest of wills between a rich boater and a nature lover, the rich boater always wins.
Those are the kinds of things that inspire a kind of "class warfare" and people taking to the streets to protest or even in our Mayor's hyperbole, "riot."
The economy actually has little to do with it.
Were I "rioting" in the streets today, I would simply hold up a sign in front of our Mayor's townhouse, decrying, "You Are Killing All Our Geese!"
He just wouldn't "get" it -- and probably never will.   -- PCA
PS -- Although petitions cannot be claimed to have much influence over political decision-making, we still attempt to persuade through legal (and idealistic) channels.  Colleagues recently put this online petition together for the geese.  Please sign and share with others.  We would like to reach the goal of 4,000 as soon as possible:

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