Silent Dancing and Silent Thinking

May 30, 2011

When silent dancing becomes a crime can silent thinking be far behind?

The other day at Washington’s Jefferson Memorial a number of people met, they said, to dance silently to memorialize Jefferson’s belief in freedom. In this case, the freedom to dance. But the park police took it as crime. Some were arrested when they refused to stop dancing. The police said stop and they didn’t stop. Somebody was disturbing the peace and it wasn’t the dancers.

“In the individualist spirit for which Jefferson is known, the dancers danced for the most part by themselves, in place, each listening to his or her music on headphones,” the original complaint said (in the case of a woman arrected in 2008 for dancing at the memorial).

But authority asserted itself, and when the state says something you’d better listen. At the Jefferson Memorial at least, the loss of tranquility and threat of terror for the park police was inherent not so much in the dancing, but in the refusal of the dancers to obey. Obeying the state for average persons is, bottom line, mandatory when it orders you to stop dancing.  Soon it’ll be to stop thinking. The threat of terror will be used to curtail criminal thought. The park police will be the judge of what you might be thinking at the Jefferson Memorial. It may be that if they don’t like what they think you’re thinking —if what they think you’re thinking is not tranquil enough,  you might be spending the night in jail or an indeterminate amount of time in Guantanamo.

Don’t start smirking and saying, Yeah, fat chance. In the 1930s the German’s thought the ideas of their new nutty chancellor would pass, but overnight they found that right-thinking was law and that fear of foriegn and internal enemies was essential doctrine. You don’t get a chance to recall a police state once it’s got one hand at your throat and the other on the lever of power. And when he or she is an instrument of the state your nice neighbor, the police officer, may be as threatening as Al Qaida.

When dancing becomes a crime, dead or not, Bin Laden has won after all.


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