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See? That's why we don't summer in Algeria any more: no right to protest.

Now I don't want to get off on a rant here, but, unlike in Algeria, the act of civil disobedience is deeply woven into the fibers of our nation. From the Boston Tea Party to the Beastie Boys' fight for your right to party, our country has a proud history of civil disobedience.

It has been a part of American history ever since the aforementioned plucky band of American colonists refused to pay a tax on tea, thereby paving the way for a free, democratic nation that does not tax tea... except, of course, for a local sales tax paid by the purchaser, an income tax paid by the seller, and corporate taxes paid by the manufacturer... Civil disobedience is the greatest engine for change the world has ever known.

However, all that today's so-called civil disobedient seems to be protesting is boredom and guilt over having well-off parents, while killing time between Dave Matthews concerts.

Throwing a chair through the window of Starbucks because you disapprove of their treatment of coffee pickers in South America is juvenile. Throwing a chair through the window of Starbucks because you asked for a grande latte percent and they gave you a venti half-caf caramel macchiato, well, that?s just basic common sense.

Do you know there are people who refuse to pay their federal income taxes because they don't want their money going towards building weapons of mass destruction? Now, while I applaud these citizens for their dedication to their ideals and for having the courage to act on their personal conscience, I also offer them one word of advice: move. It's a big world out there, Rainbow McDolphin. If you don't feel like paying the cover charge at Club America, pack up your Birkenstocks and find yourself another place to groove.

Many participate in acts of civil disobedience because it gives them an instant community of like-minded brethren who keep them from having to spend their evenings alone, perusing a three-year-old issue of "Mother Jones" magazine under the flickering half-light of that cat-shit-powered lamp in their hydroponic marijuana nursery, before crawling under their unbleached burlap sheets for the unsatisfying solace of a non-gendered dildo carved out of a cruelty-free handmade beeswax candle.

Give them this, though. Today's protesters are a lot more media-savvy than their predecessors, striving to spend more time in front of the camera than a lens cover. Sure, without a doubt, there are many people out there truly sacrificing for a worthy cause. However, I opine that for every one of them, there are many more who are in it for the publicity, the pussy or the buzz.

Come on: Al Sharpton on a hunger strike? Please. All he's doing is going on all the diets he should have been on for the past 20 years, all at once.

I mean, look who's doing the protesting: garage band dropouts, the chronically unemployed, limelight-whore politicians and B-list entertainers. People for whom living up in the top of a tree for 3 years could only be considered a lifestyle improvement.

Remember that girl in the redwood tree, huh? I think her name was Butterfly, and she was living there to keep a timber company from cutting it down. She stayed up in that tree for over a year through lightning storms and rain and fires. And I have to say... I was inspired. So inspired, in fact, that about a week after hearing about Butterfly, when the owner of a local shoe store refused to give me a refund for what was obviously a defective pair of Ugg Boots, well, I got a sleeping bag and some basic supplies and climbed up in the green-striped canvas awning over the shoestore's front door. And I read a book, took a nap, ate an olive-loaf sandwich, talked to some friends on my cell phone... then an hour and a half later, climbed down and went home. I don't think the shoe store owner ever even knew I was up there. But I knew it... and a few people walking by knew it... and I... I just think sometimes you have to take a nap in other people's awnings, that's all.

And a personal note to all the eco-zealots out there, inexplicably blocking the roads to protest global warming: nobody loves this planet more than I do. I live here, most of the time. But don't make me sit in traffic for six hours because the only way Mother Earth will let you fuck her is if I stop using hairspray, OK, Stinkbean?

You know, in 30 years, this country has gone from Vietnam protestors placing rose petals down the barrels of National Guardsmen's rifles to tossing over garbage cans and setting fire to police cars because we?re glad the Lakers won the championship. I can't tell if we've grown soft or just lost our fucking minds.

Ironically, nonviolent protest is at its most effective when it sparks the authorities into violence, shaming them in the eyes of the world. So what I'm saying is, if you're a cop, and some irate malcontent who's dressed up like a sea-turtle is screaming in your face about globalization or multinational corporations or whatever the latest codeword is for "my parents say I have to be out of the house for at least four hours a day," well, pull out your billy club and give him a good whack on that so-many-piercings-you'd-think-it-was-a-fucking-tacklebox head of his. He'll be getting exactly what he wants. And if not, well, at least I will.

Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.


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