James MacKinnon

All This Talk of Anarchy

Over the wire comes a report of an anarchist punching a police officer in the face, "repeatedly," during a street protest in Philadelphia. I imagine that little clot of information exploding outward through the endless fractals of the Information Age. I picture it reaching the suburban dinnertime conversations of a hundred million American Beauty households, and if I listen closely, I can hear America tut-tutting.

But then, there is something shocking about some punk putting one up in a cop's face. In a culture that can absorb, without flinching, the fact that certain individuals can afford to order take-out for the world's poorest billion without losing their seats in the Billionaire's Club, punching a cop remains a genuine shock. If you make an effort to understand it, your internal pop-psychologist kicks in: I'm getting the sense that you're angry. More than likely, you give in to an almost gut-level feeling that this is very, very wrong: In America, One Does Not Punch an Officer of the Law.

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