Sunday, January 14, 2007


So I went down to the demonstration. It was in the next suburb over. But since the near Seattle suburbs are each about the size of postage stamp, it wasn't a long drive.

They do this every week, rain or shine. The orginal agreement, as I understand it, was that the pro-Administration, support-the-troops crowd would wave their flags by the corner from about 10 to 11. Then the pro-opposition, end-the-war crowd would take the stage until noon. I don't think that either crowd had a permit or anything, and I'd been told that the times were a gentleman's agreement between the two groups.

The pro-administration crowd had always been the smaller and the older of the two. I suspect that its mainly a group of retirees with children or other family in the military. One of the local AM radio stations gives them some of their signage.

The anti-administration crowd is significantly larger, and somewhat younger, although I doubt that more than three or four of them come it at less than their mid-forties. They have a bunch of handmade signs and the like, although occasionally one of them comes up with something that looks really good.

Well, I went down this particular time because the last couple of times that I'd driven down there before 11, I'd noticed that a couple of the peace activists were out, along with the support the troops crowd. So I took my camera, and went down to see what the deal was. I found out that a few of the peaceniks had "resigned" from the larger group, and now felt free to come down whenever they wanted.

As much as I find protests and marches to be usually waste of time and energy (marching changes very little - voting changes quite a lot), I do find them intensely interesting events, so I took a bunch of pictures. (THIS is the truly great thing about digital cameras - you can take a boatload of pictures, and you don't have to pay to see how badly you suck at photography.) Now, I've done this maybe two or three times over the past couple of years, and I've noticed something very interesting. Men at these events do their best to be photogenic. If they see you with a camera pointed their way, they literally pose for the picture, and seem genuinely interesting in making sure that you get good shots of them - regarless of which side of the issue they're on. I've had men ask if I wanted another shot, and had them put no small amount of effort into making sure that I got snaps of all of the their signs, and making sure that they were at a good distance for group shots, and the like - it's quite remarkable. But it also makes perfect sense - the men aren't afraid of anyone who'd obviously stand out in the open with a camera and a tripod. The women, on the other hand, tend to think that one is up to something - today I had one pull a camera at point blank range to get a picture of me - I'm waiting to see the "Have you seen this spy?" posters go up in the peace activist community. They ask questions like "What publication are you with?" and "Where will these pictures end up?" Again, it doesn't matter which side of the line they're on - they're suspicious in a way their male counterparts are not.

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