Consensus via jazz hands

Sunday, October 09, 2011


Sorry to have two back to back protest posts, but the above scene from Atlanta is just too silly to pass up commenting about. It records a discussion by the Occupy Atlanta assembly about allowing John Lewis to speak to the group.  Their procedure is to allow somebody to suggest a consensus, and then allow other people to propose "blocks" to the consensus and then thrashing it out from there.

What makes the process seem pretty ridiculous is they overcome the problem of amplification for the speakers by having the crowd repeat what they say so that all can hear. The result is something like this:

Bob: Hi, my name is Bob
Crowd: Hi, my name is Bob
Bob: I am here to propose
Crowd: I am here to propose
Bob: that we form a consensus
Crowd: that we form a consensus
Bob: to allow John Lewis to speak
Crowd: to allow John Lewis to speak

It is all very earnest in a daft sort of a way, but it ends up being unintentionally funny, not to mention faintly creepy, because it sounds like some sort of a banal liturgy. Plus, watching John Lewis trying to disguise the "WTF???" expression on his face through the whole process adds another layer of humor to the proceedings.

To add to the goofiness of the assembly the participants are admonished not to applaud because it might prevent somebody next to them from hearing all of the chanted speechifying. Instead they're supposed to silently raise their hands and wiggle their fingers to show approval. The result is you have this broken speak a phrase followed by it being chanted all the time with a sea of wiggling jazz hands in the foreground.  

(HT, commenter BevfromNYC from the Commentarama post Occupy Wall Street...sort of - Part II)

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