A couple of things I've seen over the last few days have started connecting, under the heading of "public discourse." First, the items in question.
This video was made by Greenpeace, which represents a kind of activism that has pretty much vanished from American life. Warning: it's pretty shocking.
Nestle tried to block it, having it pulled from YouTube:
According to Greenpeace, Nestlé asked YouTube to remove the clip citing copyright concerns. In its place was the message, "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Societe des Produits Nestlé S.A."
A spokesperson for the environmental campaigners told CNN the copyright infringement claim was "a pretext for stopping the word being spread and an apparent attempt to silence us."
But Nestlé UK, one of several divisions of the company that produces Kit Kats, denied this, saying it had contacted YouTube via their official copyright complaint web form.
"We notified YouTube about the campaign video's infringement of the visual identity of our Kit Kat brand. The video is now back up and we will not submit the form again," a Nestlé spokesperson told CNN.
They have no case, frankly -- this seems a clear case of fair use, although I'm sure Nestle doesn't consider it fair.
Nestle has at least made the attempt to do the right thing, at least in the palm oil department, but Greenpeace is pushing for more. I'm sure there are those who will think that Greenpeace's position is extreme, and it probably is, but bear with me.
The second item is, of course, Lt. Dan Choi and Capt. Jim Pietrangelo. (They're out of jail now.)
You will remember that they were jailed for chaining themselves to the White House fence while demonstrating for repeal of DADT. Demonstrators for passage of ENDA were also arrested at Nancy Pelosi's offices in Washington and San Francisco.
Frankly, I welcome this sort of thing. Something that the far right learned long ago: if you want to push public opinion toward your viewpoint, you have to take extreme action. We've seen the "center" move right in the past few years because of people like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter (who seems to have been pretty quiet lately). Note how Glenn Beck makes them start to seem sane. For the same reason, the Dobson Gang has tolerated the Westboro Baptist Church -- Fred Phelps makes James Dobson and Tony Perkins seem like upright citizens. I'm reminded of groups like ACT-UP in the '80s, who were more than a little confrontational. They were pretty effective at moving the discourse. Sadly, our national groups, with the exception of GLAD and Lambda Legal, have allowed themselves to be co-opted. They won't push for fear of alienating our so-called "allies" in Congress and the White House, to the extent that it now looks as though they're on the other side.
Maybe we're finally seeing a resurgence of some real activism on the left, to counter the teabaggers and other assorted loons on the right. Someone's got to light a fire under the establishment, and it ain't going to be HRC.
I'm not alone in my assessment.