Quiet Riot 

Protesters should strip down for impact

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All those crazy protesters making a nuisance of themselves up at the Capitol really got Uncle Orrin, R-Utah, hot under his starched (extra-stiff) collar. If you missed it, here is what he said in The Salt Lake Tribune on Oct. 6: “They’re alarming, and I’ll tell you we are going to get more of it. We are going to have riots in this country because of what these people are doing.”

Like most of you, I thought the rectitudinous senior senator was all hissy about the well-attended Undie Run, in which 2,270 Utahns set a Guinness World Record for “the largest gathering of people wearing only underpants.” After all, the underpants rally—dubbed the Utah Undie Run 2012 Protest Against Utah Being So Uptight—was explicitly aimed at upstanding folks like the famously uptight Uncle Orrin.

Actually, what got the elderly senator’s own underpants—contoured support briefs, it is reported—so twisted was not the Undies Run, but the Occupy SLC rally, the Oct. 6 protest against Wall Street malfeasance and corporate greed. The Salt Lake City protest is but one of the rallies and sit-ins that have been occurring all over America, following the lead of the Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York City.

It’s hard to say how long the protest against Wall Street will continue, but the fact that the number of New York City occupiers has grown into the thousands in the past month, as well as the fact that the movement has infiltrated sedate little Salt Lake City, suggest that Americans may have finally awakened to just how badly they have been screwed by the financial industry.

But we shouldn’t get our hopes up just yet. After all, the Occupy SLC rally drew just 200 protesters. Put that against the 2,270 Utahns frolicking in their underpants and you get an idea of people’s priorities. It could be that people were simply knocked silly by the Big Crash, and subsequently sank into a slough of powerless despond by the Obama administration’s failure to knock some heads, throw some bankers in jail or at least institute some financial reforms.

Another thing working against the success of the Occupy movement is the deep-seated American dislike of any sort of protest, especially street protest, however peaceful. The Constitutional right to peaceable assembly and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances are way down on the list. Uncle Orrin speaks for the majority of Americans and all but a handful of Utahns when he waxes hysterical about “these people” and the riots they will engender if we allow them to walk around holding a protest sign or cry “shame” in front of a well-fed bank.

Up till now, it’s instructive to note, the only rioting to occur has been initiated by New York City cops roughing up Wall Street protesters. Goodness gracious, Uncle Orrin, who do these people think they are?

To repeat, it’s hard to predict how the protests against Wall Street and corporate greed will go. As my personal guru in all things large and small, Karl Malone, says, we see what happen. In the meantime, however, the Wall Street protesters would be wise to take a page from the merry underpants pranksters. Based on numbers alone, the underpants people were at least 10 times more successful in their endeavors. And they obviously have had 10 times the fun.

So the Wall Street protesters, at least those participating in the Salt Lake City occupation, should roam the precincts of the Capitol and the lawns of Pioneer Park in some version of their undergarments. In fact, such attire, or lack thereof, would be appropriate for the terms of their protest. Look, Wall Street, at the state to which you have reduced the average American citizen. Your greed has stripped us of the ordinary necessities of life.

A variation of the underpants protest would be the old-fashioned barrel apparel, depictions of which were once the staple of political cartoonists wishing to symbolize the reduced circumstances of people afflicted by economic catastrophe. In an emergency, a barrel of sufficient size could be shared, and would also afford more protection against inclement weather.

Finally, the Wall Street protesters would be well advised to expand the area of their protests. They should invade the previously sacrosanct territories of the Wall Street malefactors: country clubs, expensive restaurants and exclusive vacation retreats. Best of all, they sit in, wearing barrels or panties, the luxury spas visited by Uncle Orrin to maintain his complexion and write his love songs.

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