Thursday, March 31, 2011

And No One Listened

Published: The Huffington Post 2011.03.31

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How would you feel if you went on a hunger strike, emaciated yourself, and then died?

And no one listened?

That appears to be what is going on in Madison, Wisconsin right now. Matt Schauenburg has been on a hunger strike since March 3rd (Link) as a protest to how the state government is taking away worker rights. I have called various news outlets in Madison to verify he is legit and on the radar screen (Link).

He has a blog about this entire experience: The entry from March 24th talks about him passing out on the floor of the Capital in Madison and thinking to himself that he's some sort of wimp. I cannot call a guy a wimp when he pushes himself to the limit and is pushed aside.

We honor those who put their lives on the line for our country.

Those serving in the military here and overseas stand in this warm light along with cops, firefighters, EMTs. All of these folks are part of a command structure set up by the government to do things for us.

What about the individual?

When we hear about the hero who breaks up the robbery or gun fight they are rightly honored as a special peacemaker. There is a level of violence in all of these things.

What about putting your life on the line in a non-violent manner?

It was a proud moment in Wisconsin's tapestry to see about a month's worth of non-violent protest in their capital. Ironically, the only person I saw roughed up was an elected state representative by a rent-a-cop. The cop looked a little too happy doing his job for my tastes.

It was a brilliant non-violent protest by the Wisconsin 14 to leave the state, and not allowing the GOP to ram bad legislation through the system. To listen to the Wisconsin governor's office it sounded like they were about to hire bounty hunters to bring them back.

Ironically, I wonder how many of these Senators or their staffs step over Matt on the way to do their business. Can anyone say "Parable of the Good Samaritan"?

What about the unions?

This guy is going to the limit to stick up for them? I hope there are some folks passing this article to the union powers that be, or the article (Link) that got thrust in my face on this.

I keep hearing about how the union is a brotherhood. One of your own is falling. You need to catch him.

I wonder where the media is on this.

For an industry that thrives on an if-it-bleeds-it-leads attitude, you have to wonder how jaded this industry is to allow someone to emaciate themselves right in public; right in front of them. They can't turn a camera on?

Even from a ratings standpoint -- they could use the cynical model from the movie Network and at least turn a buck on this man's demise. Come on TV guys -- you are sleeping here. If this man is going to die for you on camera, the least you can do is allow his cause to be broadcast.

Think of it as someone paying with their life for air-time. It's not like he's buying a 30-second spot on Super Bowl Sunday. We are not talking a huge amount of money here. This man has decided as a final wish to stand up to the system. What is his life worth in your ad revenue stream?

Wasn't there some guy in Tunisia who did his own government protest by dousing himself in gasoline and lighting up? His action is still taking governments down. I guess having Matt fade away doesn't give the same graphics.

The news industry can whip up sentiments for anything. It doesn't even have to be true -- remember Duke Lacrosse or Richard Jewell?

Hey -- mainstream media, give this guy the treatment. I will bet you get the ratings you cravenly desire.

It is the ultimate political statement to say, "I will check out slowly and in front of you." Matt appears to be asking for dignity and his rights. He really is living the motto: Live Free or Die.

Thinking about this some more, the people in Wisconsin have used every available peaceful means to say to its government: "NO, We Do Not Want You To Take Our Rights Away".

Yet the government is still taking steps to do so. Even after a court order (Link) specifically stating that the union busting laws cannot go into effect; the judge came back with a wimpy, don't-do-this-again admonishment of the state executive branch after they attempted to circumvent her. I don't know what the rules of contempt of court are, but if those actions aren't dripping with contempt, please show me what the real definition is.

What is the end result if this man does pass away without his demands even being aired?

The entire concept of non-violent protest working is that it is done for show. It is done so other, decent people can see what is being done. Those decent people need to have their consciousnesses touched.

Update (April 2, 2011 6:45pm EST)

Matthew Schauenburg has declared a partial victory today and suspended his hunger strike.

Upon learning of Judge Maryann Sumi's court decision of April 1, 2011, to allow arguments to be made until May 23 on Wisconsin's controversial union legislation, Schauenburg has ended his hunger strike. For now.

This is according to (Link), a citizen journal that has been covering this story.

Efforts to reach Schauenburg for direct comment are in process.

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