Once I got through it to the end, I noticed that it was written by an old friend of 2PJ, David Conrad.
Reading it, I was curious about a few things. Was he there as part of the protest? Or was he there as a guest of the party? Or was he out for a walk and a just happened upon the whole party/protest gestalt?
Turns out, he was part of the protest. Speaking to him by phone this evening, he reiterated how impressed he was by how the police handled themselves. In the letter, he writes:
They were calm. They spoke to the protesters. They gave people reasonable access. They didn't privilege the well-heeled attendees beyond their rights. They did not act as if the forces of radical Bolshevism were about to occupy Pittsburgh. No pepper spray was let fly on 24th Street. No one got shoved onto the pavement to protect the flow of traffic.Good to know.
The police were a model of professionalism and local decency. They did their jobs and gave folks the benefit of the doubt. Don't be stupid and we won't hassle you. They did not "over-enforce" the letter of the law.
Conrad, needless to say, is no fan of the Corbett's. He said he was disappointed in this governor and he couldn't understand why an arts organization would give such an award to someone who's "done nothing for the arts." To Conrad, the governor's done nothing at all to help the working and middle class people of this state.
"A nightmare as governor," he said.
Why are the arts important? I asked. He said arts education is important because it teaches that there are things that have great value that also can't be treated as commodities. Things whose value can't be set on the open market. The arts are of fundamental importance in people's lives - not something to be bought and sold. The Adam Smith argument, when it comes to the arts, is not a good one.
I was also curious to know if he thought the protest accomplished anything - and to that he referenced the Velvet Underground. Here's the quote, attributed to Brian Eno:
The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band.That's influence, that's value - without much profit.
So even if nothing changed that evening, perhaps a few of the 200+ protesters (and maybe a few of the police officers watching them) will form a band.