An open letter to the (other) Man.

Share your views on the policies, philosophies, and spirit of Burning Man.

An open letter to the (other) Man.

Postby Lothar » Fri Sep 19, 2003 5:29 pm

Rumor has it that they went to the playa to escape the laws. The SFPD wouldn’t let them burn on Ocean Beach, so they loaded up a few vans and headed to the place farthest from civilization they could think of to light the man up… that was how they came to the playa, or so the legend goes.

Now, 20 years later, we have cops on 4-wheelers, undercover cops, cops with night vision goggles, cops giving tickets, cops arresting those that rejected the norm to flee from their authority.

I firmly believe that BM exists as it does to give us an escape from society’s stranglehold. It is a week to run into the ass end of the desert and party with maniacs. To no longer be bound by proper protocol or legacy beliefs, to dress crazily or not at all, to express ourselves however we see fit.


So, Mr. Enforcer:

When your rules tighten a grip around us it makes me angry. Why are you here? “For our protection?” But stopping disputes is the rangers’ job, isn’t it? We are amazingly peaceful for as large as we are… you will find more violence at your average sporting event.

When we want to go burn shit in the middle of the desert, where you would never even tread if not for us, leave us alone. If I want to do every drug known to man, piss off. If I want to run around naked slapping everything with my cock, none of your god damned business (lest you be the recipient).

The reason I see you here, Mr. Enforcer, is that you cannot fucking stand the fact that we do whatever we want in the pursuit of happiness regardless of the rules. We don’t need them. You came to remind us. You came to make a quick buck. You came to make us obey.

This is an example of the rest of the Nation trying to publicly show that they are tough. That they are enforcers. That they love American pie, segregation, and Jesus… right wing warriors won’t allow these hippies to spit on the law…

Everyone loves to talk about how free this country is, how wonderful is our democracy… well if that were true you would be voted the hell out of BRC. It is not our will to have to hide and scrape and crawl to do what we want, to escape your laws in this lawless place. You were sent by others that don’t understand us.

It’s anarchy, and I want it that way. You see, Mr. Enforcer… I can walk down the street in this lawless place and always feel comfortable. I can give strangers gifts. I can dance and sing loudly anywhere I want…. And the fact that this is what our anarchy is proves to me that we have won, no matter how tightly you squeeze.


Your presence is contrary to the entire spirit of Burning Man. Leave me the fuck alone and I will do the same.

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What do you think?
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Postby Badger » Fri Sep 19, 2003 5:44 pm

I firmly believe that BM exists as it does to give us an escape from society’s stranglehold. It is a week to run into the ass end of the desert and party with maniacs. To no longer be bound by proper protocol or legacy beliefs, to dress crazily or not at all, to express ourselves however we see fit.


I think you're incredibly naive to believe that you can expect to have 30 thousand people set up camp on federal lands, raise hell for a week, and not have LEOs (law enforcement organizattions) not think for a minute that they're entitled to come to the event and enforce the county, state, and federal laws as they currently stand on the books.

It is one of the cruel realities of the event. Yeah, it sucks. But that's not gonna change it one iota. What can change is people becoming aware that it is possible to still do the things you mentioned in a creative way but do it in such a way as to personally exclude the element of authority from your individual experience.

Subversion doesn't get any better than that.

Franky, I'm more concerned that people within the LLC such as Crimson Rose gets wigged out when spectcular events like Jim Mason's fire canons are considered something close to being non grata because she's scared someone's gonna get hurt. Dumbing it down for the sake of safety - at the expense of true fucking spectacle - is something that yanks my chain far more than a few cops on the playa even though I hate see both happening at the event.
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Postby TestesInSac » Fri Sep 19, 2003 5:55 pm

Adding (hopefully) to what Badger said, I find it ironic that some of the most bitter complainers of LEO presence at the event are also the most avid writers of new rules for the event.
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Postby clandyone » Fri Sep 19, 2003 6:05 pm

Yes, burners are bitchin-groovy and all the rest.

No, we certainly are not entitled to ignore the law. And can you imagine telling a law enforcement entity or three "Oh, we'll be good. Promise!" HA.

I personally do not find the mere presence of LEOs oppressive, and I've never had any trouble with them at the event. The officers with whom I have interacted have been polite and reasonable. It's not like they're breaking out the billy clubs.

IMO being offended by the PRESENCE of authority figures, no matter what they're actually doing, is completely childish.
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Postby Lothar » Fri Sep 19, 2003 6:07 pm

I can tell from your posts that you are very rational, Badger.

Alas, what I can expect and the way things should be seldom mesh. Yet that is even more reason to fight for what you believe... talking about this in a public forum is important.

I understand that we all need something to rage against... but that doesn't mean we should stop trying to tear the mother down in order to better hide from it. Personally I will always do what I think is ethical regardless of the fuzz. =)

And sac-- I want no more rules... I wish I had been able to attend years ago to see what it was like. Had the cops been imposing their will since day 1, I think we would have a very different festival today. All the best bits would be censored or deemed illegal.

I met a girl from Alaska that barely scraped together enough to come to BRC... and on the first day the LEO's got her... confiscated her bong, took her stash, scared punked and intimidated the hell out of her camp-mates, and gave her $1200 in fines for the trouble... If you ignore another's plight what's to stop others from doing the same when it's yours?

Personally I have had no trouble either but having to hide when I don't feel I'm doing anything wrong... certainly nothing that would offend the community... it perturbs(heh) me.

If that's childish, so be it. I can deal in daily life because I can see the fuzz does serve an important purpose... in BRC, however, the only purpose I see is fund-raising and oppressing...

And it's not authority that bothers me so much as whose authority. This arm of the law certainly isn't attached to any of our shoulders....
Last edited by Lothar on Fri Sep 19, 2003 6:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby TestesInSac » Fri Sep 19, 2003 6:19 pm

Lothar wrote:...having to hide when I don't feel I'm doing anything wrong... certainly nothing that would offend the community... it proturbs me.


Heh.

As a Libertarian, I hold some fairly conservative views, which I felt compelled to hide from most of BRC, including my campmates, even as I got to listen some pretty radical views. I hid my views because expressing them in any form would have inflamed emotions, possibly to the point of tension and hard feelings. And yes, it <u>perturbed</u> me too.

Fact of life though, just part of the compromise.
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Postby Badger » Fri Sep 19, 2003 6:21 pm

I can tell from your posts that you are very rational, Badger.


Rational is not a word I often hear ascribed to moi.

Still, I hear what you're saying and I believe we share the same frustration. It is also really important to keep in mind that if the cops are being butt-heads, are performing questionable arrests or using tactics which are possibly wrong/illegal (I've experienced this first hand BTW) that it's important to address it. Contact the BM, contribute to the Town Hall sessions, write the BLM, whatever. Just don't sit there and stew about it. The more people calling the LEO folks on their shit there more the pattern - if there is one - emerges and the more it becomes hard to ignore.
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Postby Guest » Fri Sep 19, 2003 8:33 pm

Showing his scofflaw ways, Lothar wrote:certainly nothing that would offend the community...


This is the single point at which I agree with Lothar. Laws exist to define the standards by which a community mutually agrees to abide. Burning Man is a very unique community, and totally isolated from the rest of the jurisdiction of federal, state and even local law. (To wit, some nut whacked out on PCP on the playa isn't going to do any harm to the residents of Gerlach or beyond)

This is, I think, the fundamental flaw with wide-reaching jurisdictions. California is facing the same problem with its community standard for medical marijuana being at odds with the rest of the nation's (federal) standard.
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Postby PJ » Fri Sep 19, 2003 9:09 pm

Badger wrote:...I'm more concerned that people within the LLC such as Crimson Rose gets wigged out when spectcular events like Jim Mason's fire canons are considered something close to being non grata because she's scared someone's gonna get hurt. Dumbing it down for the sake of safety - at the expense of true fucking spectacle - is something that yanks my chain far more than a few cops on the playa...


Somebody gets hurt: somebody with deep pockets gets sued. Being part-owner of a multi-million-dollar business always changes your point of view. It's a tad ironic--my understanding is that playing with fire was the origin of her fame and her entree into the LLC.
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Postby Kinetic » Fri Sep 19, 2003 9:29 pm

There are other battles to fight...it's federal land, with an event behind held on it that was permitted by a federal agency.....lotta lotta, LEO's are there to stay, I accept it and move on.

Per Badger's comments though, if they step out of line, speak up! If it's minor and the officers come across as approachable, you can do it on the spot, otherwise there are many channels available to address the problems both during and especially after the event. I've had run ins with an over aggressive traffic cop here in KC (Thomas R. Meyers) that was so popular that when he died in the line of duty they named streets after him and offered tribute after tribute....still when he screwed me over I had no problem going downtown and filing my complaints and then pushing it through until he got the reprimand he deserved. He might have died with honors but his file still shows the reprimand I got to stick. You can fight back if you do it right, and win. With cops at BM there are people who listen and they CAN do stuff about it. The LEO's may fuck you at the time but this is one place where you can fuck them back. Speak up and don't let them get away with it if they really fuck up. At the same time if you run into one that truly saved the day or your ass out there, let people know that too. Many of them are volunteers too and do good work out there.

I try to listen to the undercurrents and rants and I didn't hear about the LEO's being a pain in the ass this year....maybe an incident or two but nothing much to speak of. BLM on the otherhand seemed to have a problem with record keeping and remembering what they had approved like the Eggchair vs. Pyromid burn for example.....they seemed to need the head from ass extraction team more than any agency that I heard about.

I'll step off the soapbox now, who's next?
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Postby nymphgonebad » Fri Sep 19, 2003 9:58 pm

that would be me....

brc would be fucking chaos without leos.

i've never had a problem with the law at burning man. i'm as guilty of possesion and use of illegal substances as anyone else is - but i'm not stupid about it. i mean, when you're tripping balls on all kinds of different shit, why is it so hard to go into a sheltered space to smoke a joint?

when you regard the law as your enemy, they are far more likely to bust you. if you treat them as peers, chances are they're gonna leave you alone - or at least not turn your camp inside out to see if anyone's holding.

sat morning ( this year ) i was strolling back from the portajohns, when i was approached by a photojournalist who wanted to shoot some snaps of me ( i was wearing a straw cowboy hat, sunglasses, and a bandana around my neck and nothing else ). he wanted to shoot me standing on top of the pirate barge situated on 9:00 and authority. so as we're crossing the street, a washoe county sherriff's dept rehichle pulls up. without giving a second thought, i walked up to the driver's window, and said hi. i then proceded to ask if they'd had breakfast ( it was around 7:30 am ). they'd already eaten, so i offered them an open invite to come by anytime. they were totally polite, very cool, and never came back.

also, i suspect acting suspicious makes you suspect.

(steps off soapbox)

having said all that, i think i'm gonna go get polluted.
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What is real and what is not

Postby Guest » Fri Sep 19, 2003 11:39 pm

I always show LEOs this face (my avatar) and suddenly they think they work for me. And they're right.

You talk some sense, there, Princess Strych. I'd rather have LEO's than their opposite--confrontational bliss-twits and punch-out artists. I don't believe LEOs are at BRC to do anything more than keep the dangerous whacks in check. They are certainly empowered to shut down the whole event for drugs alone. If they really wanted to they would. Maybe they're trying to bust dealers, just like the Organizers are do.
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Postby Hana Hou » Sat Sep 20, 2003 8:30 am

Tuesday morning, I'd just sat down with my french press of coffee in the EG camp when a Sheriff drove by. I asked him if his cup was empty, and gave him 1/2 my coffee.. Ya just never know when you're going to need a friend.
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Postby TheJudge » Sat Sep 20, 2003 8:57 am

Gigsville came out with the "Fuck off Ranger" card a couple years back. The rangers then retaliated with a their own "Fuck off Gigsville" card. Maybe its time we designed a "Please go away Mr. Law Enforcement Officer" card as something you can hand to an officer when they start sticking their nose where they think it belongs. Just a friendly way to tell them that their services are not needed and they should take off all their clothes (or at least their badge and gun) and join us for a drink.
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Postby Last Real Burner » Sat Sep 20, 2003 9:38 am

Lothar wrote:I can tell from your posts that you are very rational, Badger.


Yeah! We're always calling Badg a bunch of names too.

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Postby Badger » Sat Sep 20, 2003 9:56 am

Maybe they're trying to bust dealers, just like the Organizers are do.


Cites? Now please.
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LEO protocol

Postby Guest » Sun Sep 21, 2003 9:29 am

TheJudge wrote:Maybe its time we designed a "Please go away Mr. Law Enforcement Officer" card as something you can hand to an officer when they start sticking their nose where they think it belongs.



Go for it, Judge, but if this kid were a LEO, that would tell me as much as I needed to root through your shit till I found something. No way would I take my clothes off, esp. if one of my garments is a sidearm.

We also need to remember that these people are on the job. It's a long holiday weekend for us, but it's Monday morning to them.

People gotta understand that LEOs are like certain types of insects and lizards. They only react to movement or deviance. In the case of burners at BM, that would be obvious drug use or attitude towards LEOs.

I think it would be far better to designate a LEO look out, someone who takes a shift during the party to watch for watchers.

Another solution might be to keep the LEOs busy with their more legitimate work, the persecution and torture of thieves, rapists and vendors. If you se a LEO, report a crime that is happening or happened elsewhere.
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Postby Stormy » Sun Sep 21, 2003 10:49 am

Another vote for, if you have 30,000 people assembled together you need law enforcement. Even with them look at all the crime we have: theft, vandalism, assault and sexual assault. Utopia, is well, utopia. Doesn't exist in this world, despite our best intentions.

Wonder what the critical mass point is? Does anyone remember at what population levels each of these crimes started to become noticable?
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Postby precipitate » Mon Sep 22, 2003 12:59 pm

> I met a girl from Alaska that barely scraped together enough to come to
> BRC... and on the first day the LEO's got her... confiscated her bong,
> took her stash, scared punked and intimidated the hell out of her
> camp-mates, and gave her $1200 in fines for the trouble...

Please see the Busted by cops at the burn thread for my opinions on this matter. I won't bother
repeating them here.
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Postby TazGrl » Mon Sep 22, 2003 7:18 pm

IMO, freedom of representation, freedom of speech, and the fact that we're parked on BLM land is reason enough for the LEOs to be present. It's federal land we're on and BM is therefore very much within their jurisdiction (legally, if not ideologically). If we want to be free of the feds, let's take it to the rez and see if *they'll* let us frolick free of restraint... :wink:
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Postby OregonRed » Tue Sep 23, 2003 9:16 am

If we want to be free of the feds, let's take it to the rez and see if *they'll* let us frolick free of restraint...


They won't. They have far stricter rules about public nudity (it's not allowed) and drugs (ZERO tolerance) than the feds.

Sorry
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Postby blyslv » Tue Sep 23, 2003 9:22 am

OregonRed wrote:
If we want to be free of the feds, let's take it to the rez and see if *they'll* let us frolick free of restraint...


They won't. They have far stricter rules about public nudity (it's not allowed) and drugs (ZERO tolerance) than the feds.

Sorry


I would avoid generalizations like that. Every tribe or pueblo is going to have different standards and mores. Also when talk of user fees starts to be bandied, different standards might be developed.
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Postby TestesInSac » Tue Sep 23, 2003 12:38 pm

blyslv wrote:Also when talk of user fees starts to be bandied, different standards might be developed.


And therein lies another problem, namely, whether there'd would be any consistent and persistent standard at all. At least with the BLM, you know what you're getting. On the res, personalities become more an issue than beauracracies, which have standards that are more diffucult for individuals to 'customize' to a whim.
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Postby Kinetic » Tue Sep 23, 2003 3:57 pm

Money changes everything....and the comments about the changing mores on the rez when pix of Ben Franklin appear are dead on.

Imho, I hope BM stays on BLM land. The Black Rock / Slick Rock Emigrant Trails NCA needs the attention and money. Also the BLM and the controls they put in place help the ORG keep out the yahoos...I mean without the closure order what can a Rez do to keep people out that try to crash into the event? With their limited manpower and funds, not a whole hell of a lot. The BLM provides a lot more to the event than people realize. I don't care for the feds / LEO's either, but both groups need each other.
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Postby TazGrl » Wed Sep 24, 2003 1:38 am

Kinetic wrote:Imho, I hope BM stays on BLM land. The Black Rock / Slick Rock Emigrant Trails NCA needs the attention and money. Also the BLM and the controls they put in place help the ORG keep out the yahoos...I mean without the closure order what can a Rez do to keep people out that try to crash into the event? With their limited manpower and funds, not a whole hell of a lot. The BLM provides a lot more to the event than people realize. I don't care for the feds / LEO's either, but both groups need each other.


Excellent points - like many people, I guess I hadn't thought about those particular aspects. And from what I understand, the LLC has done a lot in cleaning up the playa from the state it was in before BM began to gatherings there. Now that I think about it, who's to say rez policy wouldn't abuse non-tribal member rights just like our own government does to its own citizens? Just because it's tribal doesn't mean there's complete fairness or that it doesn't have a certain level of corruption...and who would be there to assist us? The feds have no jurisdiction there, so we essentially would have no representation.

Prompted by a refence in the BM calendar I just received the other day, I went back and looked up the August 2001 issue of National Geographic. The article in question is about BLM land use/protection. The cover photo is a BM scene, and I liked the multi-faceted issues presented in the article in that it appealed to not only the hiker/outdoorsy/ranching community but also to the art community via BM (and every mix of everything in between). I see BM as reflecting the spirit that exists in both art and outdoor involvement - both require interacting with your environment to some degree.
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To put this in context . . .

Postby Tardis » Wed Sep 24, 2003 1:43 am

Wouldn't it be wonderful if everybody treated public land with the same respect that BRC citizens accord the playa? I would love to see the Leave no Trace philosophy carried off-playa and into the community. I'm sure a lot of burners do this already (except for the few that dump MOOP on the roads outside of Gerlach after the event, which seems to be becoming more of a problem).
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Postby precipitate » Wed Sep 24, 2003 11:39 am

> the few that dump MOOP on the roads outside of Gerlach after the event,
> which seems to be becoming more of a problem

I dunno. This year was better than 2000(? I think that's it), after which
there was a big campaign against dumping shit on the road. I think it's
cyclical, and depends in part on how many new people there are. The
LLC made law enforcement and potty use the big-button issues this year
and last in the survival guide and JRS, and garbage control went to the
bottom. Therefore people who wouldn't normally think about that didn't
and there's shit on the side of the road.
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Postby ICANAndIWill » Fri Sep 26, 2003 6:01 pm

On the one hand, I think we, as people who have been conditioned to live in a society that has so many rules, restrictions, and personal problems, probably aren't totally ready to live out in the middle of the desert, with 37,999 other crazy, creative, and cocky people, without some mediating forces to make sure that we all can have some way to get along.

On the one hand, I got arrested and jailed voernight for doing something that pretty clearly didn't violate the standards of the community, and I'm still pretty pissed.

As for the coffee/bastards/feed 'em/fuck 'em aspect, with the exception of the arresting officer, I felt everyone we dealt with between BRC, the ranger camp, and the Lovelock jail was respectful and honest (as best I know) and I have no complaints about the experience.

I assume we all have the feeling that, going to burning man, we get to cut loose, and I think many people feel it's okay to go a little further outside the bounds of society. Within reason, and within consideration of others. That's what SHOULD form the standards of the community. And somehow this doesn't reconcile with the jobs that the Lovelock and Gerlach county officers were given, or chose to take upon themselves.

It hink I'm working towards the belief that a positive compromise is needed.. Do we get to write our own laws at burning man, as a community? Could we somehow find a way to find a subset of humane, equitable and, perhaps, even constitutional guidelines that the local authorities could agree to work by?

And, dammit, if I knew that fellatio could get me arrested at burning man, I .. um... I wouldn't have done anything differently.
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Hey That Hurts.....

Postby Last Real Burner » Mon Jun 28, 2004 9:06 am

And, dammit, if I knew that fellatio could get me arrested at burning man, I .. um... I wouldn't have done anything differently.


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want to get away from civilization in the lower 48

Postby blofeld » Tue Jun 29, 2004 1:46 pm

go to terlingua texas by big bend national park. only police there once a year and that is during the chili cook off. rest of the time its the last frontier.
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