So, “Arab Spring” was the wrong thing for Brigette to say?

Funny, but actual Egyptians don’t think so:

The Arab Spring, they say, isn’t about ballot boxes, it’s about the dignity of humanity. Something the Harper Government™ doesn’t respect, and probably never did.

While we’re at it, let’s compare and contrast some other right and wrong ways to look at what Brigette did. First, the wrong way (from an article that starts all right):

I don’t approve of how she made her point. Her gesture was disrespectful. You don’t accept an invitation to someone’s house and spit in the soup.

The commenters at Common Dreams take issue with this paragraph, for obvious reasons. It’s as stupid an expression of prissy disapproval as such an otherwise intelligent piece can hold. Brigette DePape wasn’t “invited to someone’s house”, because the Houses of Parliament belong to ALL Canadians (or should; the Harper Government™ has apparently turned them over to big corporations.) She was a public servant doing her thankless job on behalf of us all. And what she did wasn’t “spitting”, and there wasn’t any “soup”; the time-honored ritual and the hallowed halls were already sullied by Harper & Co. Brigette, in her own small way, was just trying to clean up the Augean Stable.

Now, here’s how you get it right, O ye hacks of the Professional Commentariat. Take note:

Brigette DePape is a young woman who passionately believes we can create a world that is more just and equitable. She is smart, hard-working, energetic and community minded. She is respectful yet not afraid to think critically and express her views.

She’s done all the right things in her young life and the zest in which she lives it would make any parent proud. Her award of a Loran Scholarship, an honour awarded to students who have shown excellence in academia and community service, is evidence of her competence. In a world where success is measured in terms of personal wealth and individual pursuits, Brigette and other youth like her should be commended for looking beyond their individual careers as they fight for a better world.

Brigette was fortunate to have found herself in an unusual position – privileged yet powerless. On the one hand, she was honoured to have been selected as a Senate page, a position difficult to attain and one coveted by students dreaming of political careers. But for someone with Brigette’s integrity and passion for justice, the excitement of being a page soon wore thin. At some point she realized that it presented a creative way for her to turn a completely powerless position into an opportunity to express her political views with the hope of raising awareness and mobilizing toward change.

In an age when newspapers have the power to influence voters by endorsing politicians who put business interests before public interest; in a society where a political party is given a majority government in spite of demonstrating its disregard and disrespect for the parliamentary process; and in a society where the acquisition of a hockey team gets more media attention in one day than many issues of significant public relevance get in a decade, Brigette selflessly and brilliantly played the card that she had available to her, in spite of the unknown consequences to her as an individual.

Are you paying attention, people? This is how it’s done. And, oh yeah, it’s done right for a good reason:

Perhaps it is because I know Brigette and have a high regard and respect for her sincere desire for social, economic and environmental justice that I have been so deeply moved by her courageous act. Perhaps this is why the image of her standing in the Senate is the most powerful image of political protest in Canada in my recent memory.

Notwithstanding, I believe that those who think that Brigette’s action will be a blip in history, written off as some silly act of youthful defiance, are wrong. We have seen throughout history the power that single acts of non-violent civil disobedience can produce.

Yes, it helps that the author of this piece knows Brigette personally and can vouch for her integrity. But more than that, she’s also right about single acts of non-violent protest. The same hacks who are currently pooh-poohing Brigette’s “disrespect for decorum and tradition” would probably have dismissed Rosa Parks as just some crazy old black bitch with bad manners, or sneered at Gandhi’s loincloth and called it a savage’s diaper, or, like the late, unlamented and utterly repugnant Madame Nhu, simply have applauded over all those Buddhist monks setting themselves afire to protest the imperialist occupation and war in Vietnam.

Those hacks really ought to think twice before firing off another pompous defence of the status quo, and ask themselves just what lies behind that mask of decorum. And most of all, they should ask themselves why Brigette chose to tear it off just for one brief moment, and come up with an answer that isn’t pat or dismissive (“oh, she’s young, they’re all naïve at that age”). Failing to do so is a sure way to get history to piss all over your grave.

PS: Here’s Brigette, explaining why she did it:

Our views are not represented by our political system. How else could we have a government that 60 per cent of the people voted against? A broken system is what has left us with a Conservative government ready to spend billions on fighter jets we don’t need, to pollute the environment we want protected, to degrade a health-care system we want improved, and to cut social programs and public sector jobs we value. As a page, I witnessed one irresponsible bill after another pass through the Senate, and wanted to scream “Stop.”

Such a system leads us to feel isolated, powerless and hopeless — thousands of Canadians made that clear in their responses to my action. We need a reminder that there are alternatives. We need a reminder that we have both the capacity to create change, and an obligation to. If my action has been that reminder, it was a success.

Media and politicians have argued that I tarnished the throne speech, a solemn Canadian tradition. I now believe more in another tradition — the tradition of ordinary people in this country fighting to create a more just and sustainable world, using peaceful direct action and civil disobedience.

Now THERE is a tradition I can get behind 100%. We all should!

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