Between a rock and a really big marshmallow

In Hautvoir, Local projects, news coverage, notes, proto drafts on June 15, 2016 at 7:48 am

One? No, two. Two officials have responded. “Moved on it”, as they say. Contacted other officials who are supposed to set things right.

In the meantime, other officials have played the unresponsive game. The aim of the unresponsive game: to bury protest of any kind under a massive marshmallow. Of course, when the marshmallow tactic fails, there’s always tear gas, truncheons and serial looping on TV of scenes of mayhem and desolation.

But the marshmallow tactic is still the dissent extinguisher of choice, at least where I live these days. Don’t answer emails or, if pressed to the limit, give official-sounding advice that leads straight to another dead end. In other words: Exhaust the adversary. If the adversary howls instead of slinking away? Make sure the world knows how courteous and helpful you’ve been all along, and let the howlers take the blame for disrupting a soothing moment of tranquility.

Exhausting? Yes. But exhaustion is the least of it. Harm done to those whose rights are denied – that’s the real zinger. A court of law orders aid and protection to four minors falsely accused of wrong-doing. The order stands but nothing happens. Let the clock tick away; they’ll reach their eighteenth birthday and then, zippo, out of sight, out of mind.

Early Saturday morning, one of the four showed up at my door, so distraught he wanted to head straight to the gendarmerie with the court order and order them to do the follow-through. With my neighbor’s help, we managed to point out the likely consequences: at best, a phone call from the gendarmerie to Youth Protection. At best after that? A temporary holding place prior to shipment to another part of the country while the clock ticks away.

We’ve explored every back channel, every legal venue, and every concerted effort to get those four people’s rights enacted (plus the rights of four others, but that story’s for another day). We haven’t done the public, media-relayed bit yet because that’s a one-shot deal. When it works, great. When it backfires, you put people in an even lousier set of circumstances than the one they’d endured until then.


Serial looping on TV of scenes of violence with extra emphasis on the killing of a man and wife team of police officers. The owner of the Tunisian restaurant looks at the screen (as we all do) and expresses my anger better than I would myself: “There. See that? They’re turning the killer into another folk hero. Who’ll be the next one wanting the ultimate selfie?”


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