Mace in the face at Air and Space

[Video link, from "Stop the Machine," aka October 2011, the anti-war group that attempted to occupy the National Air and Space Museum today in Washington, DC. Shot by Nathan Schneider.]

Update: Sounds like a right-wing agent provocateur was in the mix, and may have been at least partly responsible for escalating the situation.

A group of protesters in the nation's capital tried to force their way into the National Air and Space Museum on Saturday. Security guards responded with force, pepper spraying some of the demonstrators. The museum closed two hours early.

An Air and Space staffer tweeted that it seemed not all of the demonstrators supported the idea of pushing into the museum, where an exhibit of unmanned aerial drones is one of 22 major exhibitions currently on display. But with large crowds full of agitated people, things happen.

And that is why we can't have nice things like this—well, for today, anyway.

Coverage: CNN, Washington Post.

Update: According to eyewitnesses I'm following on Twitter, and some Boing Boing commenters in this thread, and a later report from the Associated Press, the protesters who attempted to enter the museum and protest the military drone exhibit were not part of the Occupy DC group. A number of people were made sick by the attack with pepper spray, with vomiting and other symptoms reported. Being maced is an agonizing experience. From available reports, it sounds like guards at the museum, not police, were responsible for the decision to use pepper spray—and the situation sounds like it must have been volatile.

Snip from AP:

Smithsonian spokesman John Gibbons said a large group of demonstrators, estimated at 100 to 200 people, arrived at about 3 p.m. and tried to enter the National Mall museum. When a security guard stopped group members from entering, saying they could not bring in signs, he was apparently held by demonstrators, Gibbons said. A second guard who arrived used pepper spray on at least one person and the crowd dispersed, he added.

Museum staff tell Boing Boing that astronaut John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth and the third American in space, was visiting the museum at the time of the incident. I am told he was escorted out when things got out of hand.

That's John Glenn. A living national treasure. Who is 90 years old. Nice going, guys.


  1. Good, glad they got pepper sprayed, although it sounds like they deserved a lot more.  There’s no reason to attack a museum.  Especially when you consider the value of the artifacts at the Air and Space Museum.  

    1. I see the apologists for police brutality are coming out in force. I don’t know what happened there, but I suppose you think that chemical weapons are perfectly okay as long as they don’t leave any marks, and something “more” is okay if you don’t like the victims. And do you imagine people wanted to damage the artifacts instead of pointing out the war crimes and the celebration of war crimes?

      1. The museum had to be protected.  There was no way to know what these protestors might have attempted.  There are artifacts that are absolutely priceless in there.  

        And yes, the “chemical weapons” (nice exaggeration btw) are perfectly acceptable in this situation.  It’s not like they shot anyone and some manner of defense was required.  Would you want protesters in the Louvre or the Pyramids possibly damaging works of art and historical artifacts that could never be replaced?  

      2. Yes. “Chemical weapons” are OK. For instance, I once cleared a room after a particularly enjoyable burrito…

        And people are perfectly welcome to point out any war crimes OUTSIDE of the museum.

      3. “And do you imagine people wanted to damage the artifacts instead of pointing out the war crimes and the celebration of war crimes?”

        Apparently you’re not too familiar with previous protests (however noble and well-founded). A lot of people *do* show up to mindlessly break things despite the goals and aims of the majority. See pretty much any international economic gathering from the past decade. And museums and libraries – wherever they may be located – are typically reservoirs of culture that are irreplaceable.

        In a thousand years, quite bluntly no one is going to give a rat’s ass that someone got a chemical burn to the face that went away in a matter of days. They are most certainly going to be interested in the dawn of the aerospace era that we are living through today.

        Have some sense of perspective.

    2. And to all of you —    It seems clear that none of you, including the author of the article, has bothered to access the actual first hand source:
      Please do so.
      No one “attacked” or “looted” anything. The very first people through the door were sprayed. The exhibition they were protesting was the DRONE exhibit. I can’t imagine that any of you support the murderous Drone program, but it is clearly within our rights to peaceably assemble and express our grievances, as Constitutionally guaranteed.  Admission to the museum is free. To anyone.
      Some non-protestors were collateral damage– sprayed as they stood by.
      The museum was advised that they were coming. It was the Museum security that attacked the people. For a personal first hand account, please access:
      If you disagree with the principles of the occupyDC/October2011  movements, that’s your right of course, but-  to wish that they had been more seriously harmed, or to deny our fundamental rights is not. 

      1. How about protesting the guy who launched the drones?  He lives and works not too far away.

    3. No one attacked a museum. You believe everything you read, don’t you? They were occupying to protest the glorification or war and drones
      exhibit, which are unmanned bombing planes which attack civilians
      including children. It was peaceful and there are plenty of other videos and photos to prove that. Funny how the video started after they had already entered the building, no? And the fact that you actually brought up the monetary value of the artifacts… Wow.

      1. Ripley, if you think that drones attack children you have a fundamental misunderstanding of how the technology works. 

        There’s a human behind that machine’s controls.  He’s just sitting in a bunker or a building instead of a cockpit.  He’s the one who authorizes the weapons release.

        We’re pretty close to UAVs that will fire weapons without human authorization but we’re not there yet, for a number of reasons, including the moral implications.

        That doesn’t mean we SHOULD go there and it doesn’t mean that it’s RIGHT that we’re going there, and it doesn’t mean that it’s EVER OK to kill children.  Just stating the facts as they stand.

    1. WIW, according to one Occupy DC spokesperson – Eric Sponaugle – the protesters @ the Smithsonian were not associated with Occupy DC

      I predict this will be ignored for all the predictable reasons.

      I personally want to see the names and faces of these potential provocateurs.  I wouldn’t doubt if they have nefarious ties to outside elements.   And, even if they are just misguided idiots, I still want to know who they are.

      I hope they go to jail for a while.

      1. “I predict this will be ignored for all the predictable reasons.”

        Well, since they tend to talk about being ‘leaderless’, isn’t it hard to take such denials seriously? Maybe another Occupy DC spokesperson would say the protesters *were* with Occupy DC?

  2. Yes. It was an attack. Doubtless their plan was to take over the museum and use the artifacts to overthrow the government.

  3. These idiots weren’t from Occupy DC and it doesn’t seem like they had any actual backing from Stop the Machine, either. Protests get large enough, you end up with some yahoos who just want to break shit.

  4. Good. I’m not in favor of action that damages either libraries or museums, and let’s face it, the objects in that museum are absolutely priceless one-of-a-kinds. I had the same horror during the Egyptian Spring with the Cairo Museum.  Apollo artifacts may be a little bit younger than Ramses, but they equally ain’t making them any more. 

    I’m also not in favor of unmanned drones, but what are you gonna do? The museum’s job is to show the truth. 

    1. I fail to see any mention of damage or attempted damage by the protesters; merely that they attempted to get past the security with signs and without paying. It may very well be that museums are delicate enough places that the shear mass of people might have damaged things but we should be very careful not to imply that the protesters had any intent to damage. 

        1. It’s been a while since I was there; I forgot this and made the presumption. However, the articles explicitly state that the guards objections were to the signs.

  5. Looting a national museum, like was seen in Baghdad and Cairo? This has a lack of imagination and a copy-catness that you’d see coming from a counter-insurgency playbook.

    I’d be very inclined to think this is an act of agents provocateurs to create incidents attempting to destroy the OWS movement.

  6. Equating robotic kill-o-zaps with “priceless one of a kinds?” Call me crazy, but I tend to equate “priceless one of a kinds” with HUMAN F**KING BEINGS. “Monuments of achievement?” “There’s no reason to attack a museum?” Are you people insane, or have you developed an inability to use both hemispheres of the brain at once? Gahh.

    1. Um, genre slur, you do know that the museum houses a ton of other stuff besides military drones, right?

      1. Yup. And none of them are human. Bear in mind the nature of artifacts in relation to other bodies in space/time. Artifacts are ‘transmission only’ phenomena. Human beings can be ‘transmission/reception’ phenomena. As such, I value the latter much more than the former. Claiming inherent value to transmission exclusive phenomena appears to be nothing more that rampant, unreasoned fetishism.

        1. Conflating the ‘medium’ with the ‘message’ isn’t something I’m prone to, at least.

          1. Civilly redirected the humans to restrictive confines? Perhaps the guards could have listened to what the protesters had to say? Lots of stuff can be done rather than MACE TO THE FACE. Duh.

          2. I do not assume that the guards did the right thing.  Do you assume they did the wrong thing?

            What I do know is that most museums have policies in place to maintain a certain level of decorum, so the museum can be enjoyed by all visitors.  I strongly suspect that some protestors were attempting to violate those policies.

          3. I choose not to reify the perceived value of ‘transmission-exclusive’ phenomena. You seem to. This is what is beautiful about boing boing — difference, with presence!

        2. “Artifacts are ‘transmission only’ phenomena. Human beings can be ‘transmission/reception’ phenomena. As such, I value the latter much more than the former. Claiming inherent value to transmission exclusive phenomena appears to be nothing more that rampant, unreasoned fetishism.”

          I don’t understand what transmission or reception has to do with inherent value.  And you’re not even talking about inherent value really.  You’re talking about what you value.  And it’s a bit of a false choice to argue we shouldn’t value artifacts because we should value humans more.

          1. Signal exchange is what I tend to observe. The transmission and/or the reception of. Value. A concept which appears to be arbitrarily designated, culture to culture. Many of the claims I am questioning presuppose a value to specific phenomena. I question that relationship. Simple.

          2. Ah, I think I understand.  But I think you confuse terms when you speak of inherent value – a more objective concept.  I can logically debate with you the merits of something possessing inherent value.  It either does or it doesn’t (though we would both approach the argument from our own culturally defined perspective).  But I would have to recognize extrinsic value, whether I agreed or disagreed with it, and could only attempt to persuade you on some other level.  

            Also, as far as artifacts go, they don’t transmit any signals independent of receivers (people).  And people don’t receive signals independent of signal transmitters – be they artifacts or other people.  So given that the purpose of a museum is one way signal communication I think your real issue is with any such institution and not the collections of the institution.  Not that the whole distinction isn’t completely arbitrary to begin with.  But it sounds like this is all much more stimulating a discussion to you, so I’ll back out.

          3. Agreed. Except for the assumption that artifacts do not transmit any signals independent of receivers — I have not experienced any evidence of that, yet. Everything that follows is of course open to question.

    2. How about Apollo capsules?  Are those not nice things?  Moon rocks?  All sorts of various artifacts from the space program?  As well as multiple artifacts from civilian aviation.  Do these things not matter?  It’s not all military there, although that stuff is also rather significant and needs protection too.

      1. How about Apollo capsules?  Are those not nice things?  Moon rocks?  All sorts of various artifacts from the space program?  As well as multiple artifacts from civilian aviation.  Do these things not matter?

        How about wedding parties?  Are those not nice things?  Unarmed civilians?  Children? Do these things not matter?  Perhaps the US government should lead the way by distinguishing between the innocent and the (presumed) guilty when using those drones.  As I understand the terminology, those Apollo capsules are collateral damage in the War on brown people who live elsewhere.

        1. What’s the rough total of humans that the US have killed in Afghanistan, by the way? I’ll bet it’s a LOT more than four thousand.

        2. This was Air and Space Museum that was broken into, not the Museum of Political Revisionism.  That one is down the street.  I think you and some of the protesters are confused about this.

        3. I’m just confused about the choice of venue.

          Nobody at the NASM is launching any drones at anyone, anywhere.

          Ya want to protest the use of drones in the “war on brown people who live elsewhere”,  ya need to go about ten blocks west,  five or six blocks north.

          Maybe the security guards should have given the protestors a DC street map.

      2. Agreed. Ethnocide may not necessarily begin with the destruction of transmission-only phenomena, but their destruction certainly seems to be a feature of cultural genocide. Moon bits rock, and so do Apollo capsules. However they are not robotic kill-o-zaps. The museum should have the ‘awareness’ to know this, and ensure that tools which precipitate crimes against humanity are not kept in the same location as tools that benefit humanity. Duh.

        1. You must find it very frustrating to know that military technology and “good” technology have progressed, literally, hand-in-hand.  The Apollo capsules carried military officers, and the moon bits were picked up and brought back by military officers.

        2. You all are just getting nonsensical now.  Is there some huge display of drones in the museum that I’m not aware of?  It’s an “Air and Space” museum, not a “killing machines” museum as you are making it out to be.  Why don’t you do a little research on the nature of the museum.  What you are talking about is something that could be said about any museum of history in the world.  It’s ludicrous.  

          Let’s go protest inside a a museum containing  Native American historical artifacts. Those museums will likely have weapons used by Native Americans against other Native Americans, hence the “war on brown people” nonsense, and they should be destroyed also.  

          See how stupid that sounds?

        3. A museum’s job is to display our history — both the good and the bad. Whether or not you like drones is irrelevant: they are nevertheless an important milestone in aviation history. When you start telling a museum to stop displaying things you find offensive, you risk whitewashing history of unpleasant bits.

          1. A museum’s job is to display our history — both the good and the bad.

            True.  But when that ‘history’ is happening in the present, how you present it can be reasonably neutral or can be propaganda for any perspective on the current situation.  Entartete kunst was one of history’s great art exhibits.  But that wasn’t how or why it was presented or how it was received.

          2. Entartete kunst is being hyperbollic. The Museum of Modern Art in New York has Apple products on display as examples of good/iconic modern design. Through your logic that should not happen now or else folks see that as an ad for the the product; better wait 50+ years or so and then it would be cool?

          3. I don’t really get your response.  My point about Entartete kunst is that if you took all those artworks and put them on display without any of the cultural baggage associated with the previous exhibition, it would simply be viewed as a monumental exhibit of great artworks.  But in fact, it was presented as a propaganda tableau to fuel antisemitism.  The artworks themselves are not propaganda (although some of them might be), but they were used as such.

            The Air and Space Museum is funded by the US government.  It has close ties to the US military.  It’s displaying weaponry that we are currently using to kill people in foreign wars.  The idea that an institution so closely associated with what President Eisenhower referred to as the ‘military-industrial-congressional  complex’ should get a free pass from having its motives rigorously investigated or from being subject to political protests just because it has a lot of artifacts that BB readers think are cool suggests a serious breakdown of critical thinking faculties.

            This incident shows how the museum is particularly subject to political machinations:

            Controversy erupted in March 1994 over a proposed commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Japan. The centerpiece of the exhibit was the Enola Gay, the B-29 bomber that dropped the A-bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Veterans’ groups, led by the Air Force Association and The Retired Officers Association, argued strongly that the exhibit’s inclusion of Japanese accounts and photographs of victims politicized the exhibit and insulted U.S. airmen.  Also disputed was the predicted number of U.S. casualties that would have resulted from an invasion of Japan, had that been necessary, after the museum director, Martin O. Harwit, unilaterally reduced the figure by 75% on January 9, 1995, at the height of the dispute. On January 18 the American Legion called for a congressional investigation of the matter, and on January 24, 1995, 81 members of Congress called for Harwit’s resignation. Harwit was forced to resign on May 2. Although the exhibit was “radically reduced” and criticized by the New York Times as “the most diminished display in Smithsonian history,” the Air and Space Museum placed the forward fuselage of the Enola Gay and other items on display as part of a non-political historical exhibition. Within a year, it had drawn more than a million visitors, making it the most popular special exhibition in the history of the NASM, and when the exhibition closed in May 1998, it had drawn nearly four million visitors.


          4. I simply do not understand your concept that somehow a weapon of war in the past can be placed in a museum, but contemporary weapons of war cannot.

            AK-47’s are used every day to kill and destroy lives. Pretty certain it’s displayed in numerous museums around the world.  I see no difference between a Kalashnikov and a drone or atomic bombs.  All are a part of history and the idea that you see drones on the same level as a Nazi war exhibition is baffling to me.

          5. I see no difference between a Kalashnikov and a drone or atomic bombs.

            There’s been quite a bit of propaganda on the theme of how drones are wonderful things because they Save American Lives™!  I don’t get that so much for Kalashnikovs. 

            And I still have significant concern about the politicization of exhibits that are bought and paid for by Congress, particularly in light of the incident that I cited.

          6. Maybe you are exposed to different media sources than I am, but I am not—and have never heard—anyone really praise drones because the “Save American Lives™”… Or maybe I am so numb about hearing the efficiency of weapons that I don’t let it get to me and I can still see it in a neutral light. But even in the case of —let’s say—Patriot Missile systems used in the first Gulf War, I am well aware of how much of that hype was pure propaganda, but I am pretty open to understanding why a model Patriot Missile would be put on display in a museum.

            Also, I’m no rube. The DEA had a pop-up “museum” in Times Square a few years ago.  I literally was blown away by how much propaganda and scare tactics were on display. It was pretty clear I was being spoon fed a purely one-sided POV, but took it in ironically and horrifically.

            Also wasn’t the Internet created as a way of keeping systems up and running in a post-Apocalyptic world where infrastructure would be destroyed or damaged to the point direct lines of communication couldn’t be used?  So a packet-based network is created to allow—I dunno—war to continue?  So can’t any museum that discusses the history of the Internet be considered a propaganda tool for more I.T. spending by the government to keep tech safe and secure?

            I really think detractors of drones being on display at the Smithsonian have no clue what a museum is and how it functions.

          7. > and have never heard—anyone really praise drones because the “Save American Lives™”

            I’ve heard that said several times over the years they’ve been in development, but it also seems kind of self-evident.  No pilot on the scene, no pilot at risk.

          8. …but it also seems kind of self-evident.  No pilot on the scene, no pilot at risk.

            What seems self-evident to me is that you can have pilots not at risk, without involving drones: perhaps by refraining from sending people into combat, or something along those lines.

          9. Another misuse of “literally”. Awesome. Unless there was a big fan in the display. Which there might have been.

          10. Yeah – but if I am reading that right the museum had Japanese accounts and a low number for the number of lives potentially saved – one that was then reduced by 75%. Soooo – in this case weren’t they trying to be more “neutral” to show both sides and have the more conservative/less hawkish outlook? It was the veterans groups who had a problem with it being too  PC – not too “propaganda-ish”

            Honestly, your objections seem like semantics – even injecting politics where there are none. Unless this museum has a habit of making displays that you find offensive (and maybe it does), I don’t see why you would assume such an exhibit would be “propaganda-ish”.

            If drones are not appropriate because they are currently in a war you don’t support and are killing people,  does that mean the Browning M2 (Ma Duece) mounted on a 50’s era truck also be inappropriate? It too is currently used in war to kill people. (ETA you might not be trying to make that point. That might have been someone else. I am really tired. :-p Night ><)

            I don't know exactly how the drones are displayed. If they had something inappropriate in the display, then I would agree that something needs changed. The simple act of having drones shouldn't be a political issue. They are just "things".  And the exhibit has past. present and future drones, with I think 2 prototypes. These are important, permanent parts of the history of flight (in their collection they have even older drones and a target drone). There is nothing different between it and any other military plane you see in any museum – other than where the pilot is located.  I think their place in the NASM is completely appropriate.

          11. Honestly, your objections seem like semantics

            [cow spits out 500 degree Starbucks grande pumpkin spice latte on leg and screams]

          12. Unless there are whole exhibits dedicated to shooting Hellfire missiles at peaceful wedding parties and kids sleeping in their beds, it is absolute propaganda. Forgetting to mention the negatives is no better or worse than making up positives.

          13. re: “how you present it can be reasonably neutral or can be propaganda for any perspective on the current situation.”

            Most museums are pretty dry, especially when it comes to technology. I haven’t seen the exhibit, but if it is similar to others I have seen you will see: a lot of specifications, a brief outline of its history and who uses/used it, and its capabilities and performance.

            Here is the page for the drones on their site. I dunno if this mirrors the exhibit, but it’s pretty cut and dry. This is this, it does that, it is different/new because it has this, etc etc


          14. Why don’t museums have displays of rape? Isn’t war-rape an ‘important milestone’ in general history? It’s the basic spoil of war (IE A Chorus of Stones, Rachel Carson), as such we should all be shown the history…

          15. Don’t be obtuse. An important milestone? Try older than homo-sapian.

            If there was ever a rape museum – or maybe one dedicated to either women abuse or war atrocities, then there would probably be a section on rape. At least a little placard and a mention on the audio tour.

            It would be out of place in a museum that focuses on technology.

            The drones are part of the evolution of flight. Eventually we will have drones moving FedEx across the nation, pilotless fighter jets, and some really bitchin’ Air Hogs that you can control remotely via your computer.

            Furthermore, in any exhibit that features less historical, and more modern piece, it is a way to connect to the past. You have something you are more familiar with from the news etc, and trace back in time to subjets that are totally foriegn to you.

            Also – I’d like to give a shout out the Cosmophere in Kansas, as I believe it is the 2nd largest space museum.

          16. I define technology as ‘ways of doing things’. Rape fits into this understanding of technology. Why does it seem your value of rape is different than your value for drones?

          17. You can define it as “red socks filled with acorns” for all I care, “rape” is not “technology”, nor does your preferred definition really apply here.

            Furthermore, it is an air and space museum. Rape is an action, not a piece of technology you can display. If they had a flying rape machine, it would fit in nicely. But really your suggestion is just meant to get a rise out of people using a hot button topic. Your comparisons are moot.

          18. If it was a history museum or a war museum or a rape museum, then yes, displays of rape should be included. And though rare, I know of a couple museums that do in fact address this aspect of war.

            So what’s your point? That because the National Air and Space Museum didn’t have  displays of mass rape that it deserves to be invaded by a large crowd of potential rioters?

    1. Violent protesters inside a museum just isn’t a great idea. Pretty much anything around that exhibit is priceless.

  7. You want to talk about anti-intellectualism in the United States, much? Protest out in the public where it means something, don’t attack a well loved and highly respected educational institution over a political stance. I don’t like the drones either, but I also don’t go around trashing places or people who talk about them.

    Not to mention, it’s the completely wrong venue to protest a war or the methods used in them, try a house of government next time, or maybe a ballot box.

  8. Not with Occupy DC you say?  Is there a registry of Occupy DC’ers?  A list somewhere?  If you are with Occupy DC are your actions necessarily endorsed by some sort of leadership?  Is that why other Occupy DC’ers feel the need to disassociate themselves from these hooligans? Face it, a significant part of this occupying movement is constituted by a very fringe element, drawn to each other and emboldened in critical mass to push boundaries.  Because there is no leadership, no organization, there is also no deniability.  If the protesting is as ad hoc as it’s been promoted to be, and without a specific agenda, then it’s the protesters themselves, and their actions, that is the real story.

    1. This right here.

      It’s the same excuse that the tea party uses to explain away the racist elements of their group.

  9. Ever hear of “agents provacateurs”? That’s French for police posing as protestors in peaceful demonstrations whose job it is to instigate violent acts thereby putting said movement in a very bad light so as to de-legit its cause and pave the way for upping the ante in terms of crowd control.

    1. Why assume that it’s “agents provocateur”? Get large groups of people together protesting something, and some small fringe group is going to do something stupid like this. No one is surprised when fringe elements of the Tea Party go over the line, so why shouldn’t the same logic apply here? Occam’s Razor is ideology-neutral.

      Great move on the official Occupy DC’s decision to condemn this and distance themselves from it; hopefully it makes the main movement stronger and adds to its credibility.

      1. Why assume? Because it’s been the modus operendi of the powerful in response to an awakened populous that dares to speak truth to power. OWS has made its peaceful position known since day 1 of the occupation. Yes, there is always the fringe, hyped-up, angry people without a clue to how to reach the prize (if they even understand what that is). You must know that undercover cops, etc. are embedded at the square and they’re not just spying. They want to make the movement look bad and they will go to any lengths to do it and make their over-the-top responses look like the protestors got what was coming to them.

        1. Sorry, but this seems to verge on the paranoid – undercover police are everywhere, watching, waiting for an opportunity to subtly discredit any hint of a well-organized opposition group, funded by the… government? “Corporations”? Everyone involved is able to keep this a complete secret? No documents, no paper trail, no disgruntled undercover employees? The best they can do is get maced trying to bring a sign into the NASM?

          Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and I haven’t seen anything to support what you’re saying. Isn’t it more likely that some people just made a bad decision? Do you think that tea partiers that cross the line are undercover cops?

          1. Whether they are provocateurs or not, they are being shunned by the greater movement as we speak.  We’ll all find out in due time who these asshats are – that is, unless they are mysteriously released without charge and we can’t get their names for some reason.

          2. Cowicide, how would you ever know if they were released without due charges? They would change their identities and jump back in.

          3. It is interesting that only ONE person was arrested in this melee (so far).  Why did they let so many go?

          4. Go back and read your American history and concentrate on the big movements–labor, civil rights, anti-war, etc. Police, FBI, and yes, corporate goons, have traditionally infiltrated the ranks of those who protest for change and equality in our country.
            Mine was not an extraordinary claim but based on past (and even very recent past) behaviors of the aforementioned law enforcement agencies.
            No, I don’t think T.P. people who crossed the line were cops but they could have been Koch Bros. employees whose job was to push the envelope more to the extreme right via racism and fear of losing gun rights.

  10. Please re-read my third post. It may shed ‘light’ on my position. High-density information may seem nonsensical to some.

    1. OOh! “High-density information!” Here, let me see if I can do this…

      Humanity is an artifact- and tool-based society, where we see the world through the tools that we make and use. “We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us”, to quote Marshall McLuhan. Museums are a space where we can encounter the tools of the far and recent past in order to understand our present. Yes, the Air and Space museum contains some prototype unmanned drones, but you know what else it contains? “The Spirit of St. Louis,” the Wright Flyer, and other important artifacts that allow us to see history in physical form, and to inspire future generations to push boundaries and invent new tools. To label a museum as a mecca for “object fetishism” is akin to labelling a collection of nude portraits as pornographic; In other words, correct at the most basic and crude level, but certainly an opinion devoid of any hint of sophistication.

      So, no, I don’t think it’s quite appropriate for anyone to be storming a museum, seeking to dismantle history because they believe that their anger gives them the permission to. There are plenty of other fora to voice grievances for injustices, real or imagined. Keep it away from the museums, the art galleries, the archives and the libraries.

      1. So, no, I don’t think it’s quite appropriate for anyone to be storming a museum, seeking to dismantle history because they believe that their anger gives them the permission to. There are plenty of other fora to voice grievances for injustices, real or imagined. Keep it away from the museums, the art galleries, the archives and the libraries.

        Where is everybody getting the idea that they were going to destroy something? It isn’t in any of the linked articles or Xeni’s text. The only thing even close is that the event Xeni was interested in got postponed.

        To protest drone killings, they went to a public space which had drones. Why is that so unreasonable?

        1. Because they could have protested outside of the museum?

          The Air and Space museum is constantly packed, and even if the protestors didn’t enter with the intentions of breaking things the combination of large crowds of people and hotly contested opinions in an enclosed space is a time bomb waiting to go off.

        2. “Where is everybody getting the idea that they were going to destroy
          something? It isn’t in any of the linked articles or Xeni’s text. The
          only thing even close is that the event Xeni was interested in got

          Judging from some of the responses below you, mostly assumption and speculation based on the actions of past, unconnected individuals and at least a little bit to justify the hippie-punching.

        3. “To protest drone killings, they went to a public space which had drones. Why is that so unreasonable?”

          If someone wanted to steal, or damage an exhibit, one way would be to create a disturbance in order to draw security away from the actual target.

          Considering all the ballsy museum thefts that have been happening in the last few years, especially in Europe, I’d hope they’d be wary of the possibility.

      2. Excellent response! I agree that “to label a museum as a mecca for ‘object fetishism'” is “devoid of any hint of sophistication.” Which is why I did not. You did, for some reason. “Claiming inherent value to transmission exclusive phenomena appears to be nothing more that rampant, unreasoned fetishism,” is what I tossed out there. Conflating the former with the latter may be a sophisticated maneuver in some circles, but not in mine. As a human, I appreciate the semantic ‘time-binding’ attributes of transmission-exclusive phenomena (IE transmission without time/space constraints, repetition of transmission without affecting frequency, et cetera), yet such phenomena do not have a priori ethos for me, especially when comparing them to organisms. I stand in a position which allows human beings to transmit signals around such phenomena. Our signal potential is paramount to the values of semantic time-binding phenomena.
             To scale out a bit, the behaviour in question did not seem to be a reasonable threat to the phenomena at hand. As such, it seems unreasonable to claim that distant proximity to such phenomena be imposed upon any humans. Seriously, man.
        Please respond. I like your style!

        1. You said:

          Yup. And none of them are human. Bear in mind the nature of artifacts in relation to other bodies in space/time. Artifacts are ‘transmission only’ phenomena. Human beings can be ‘transmission/reception’ phenomena. As such, I value the latter much more than the former. Claiming inherent value to transmission exclusive phenomena appears to be nothing more that rampant, unreasoned fetishism.

          So, given your first point (“Artifacts are ‘transmission only’ phenomena”) and your second point (“Claiming inherent value to transmission exclusive phenomena appears to be nothing more that rampant, unreasoned fetishism”), how else would you like me to interpret your words? This was in reply to someone suggesting that there was more held at the A&S museum than just the drones. My “mecca for object fetishism” comment was a bit of hyperbole, but the point still stands: You claimed that assigning inherent value to the objects in the museum (“transmission exclusive phenomena”) appears to be nothing more than “rampant unreasoned fetishism.” I claimed that this indicates that you think the objects in the museum have no inherent value and are on display to appease some base animal instinct where we glorify these objects (your “rampant unreasoned fetishism”) and which you, for some reason, have placed yourself above.

          No, artifacts are not more important than humans. But you know what? These artifacts aren’t killing anyone. Even the ones that did, aren’t any longer.** We have lots of other spaces for remembering and documenting the works of human beings (in fact, the bulk of our cultural remembrance infrastructure is dedicated towards this through libraries and archives). This museum happens to document achievements in Air and Space travel. We also have museums that document history of Native Peoples, ancient and modern Western and Eastern history, modern art, etc. etc. If we were to be arguing over a crowd storming the American History museum and protesting Archie Bunker’s chair, would you be making the same claims? Nobody’s saying these objects are worth *more* than humans, but they do have inherent value and as such deserve to be protected and preserved.

          You know, this reminds me of a similar point in time a few hundred years ago when mobs of people would storm Cathedrals and churches and whitewash their artwork and remove any faces from statues because they claimed it was “idolatry” (read: “Object fetishism” of “transmission only phenomena”) They felt perfectly justified in doing it as a protest against the dominant power at the time (the Catholic church). I kinda wish they hadn’t done that now, though. It would be nice to know what these places used to look like. I would have totally cheered for some friar protecting these things from the mob.

          Without being there I don’t know “the behaviour in question,” but I do know that when I visited the A&S museum it was controlled entry (metal detectors and all). If the protestors were acting in mob style, which it sounds like they were (“The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum on the Mall was abruptly closed Saturday afternoon after a “large group of protesters” tried to push past security guards and enter the museum, a spokeswoman said.”) I can see where the clash would have happened. 

          If you’ve ever been between an angry mob and its target, you know that you either use deterrent force on them (e.g., pepper spray), or get the hell out of the way. In this case, it seems the security folks were just doing their job.

          ** There’s a reason the phrase “museum piece” means “should only be used for display purposes because it would likely fall apart if you tried to use it”

          1. Well typed. I appreciate meeting  an other person willing to think.
                 I do feel that ‘artifacts’ have arbitrarily designated value. I will not easily refute that axiom. If, for example, someone were to destroy the only photographic evidence of my mother, I would not care. It’s a model, or re-presentation. I will not conflate the existence of one with the other. History shows me it is dangerous to do so.
                 All of your other points I willingly concede. In fact I support. But I will hold the position that transmission-only phenomena are bare of value, and that behaving as though they are not is immoral.
            Thanks for waiting. Had a date :)

  11. Dear BOING BOING: Crackin’ thread, by the way. I love it when fellow humans get together and have one of those conversations that feel as though we are sitting around a table with good food and drink, tossing salvos at each other out of mutual respect. Good times on a Saturday night (where I am)! Having typed this, I must step out for gastrointestinal reinforcements. Please people, Salvo on.

  12. The terrible optics of “attacking a museum” aside, I can understand a certain outrage against the Air and Space Museum.  The place is a rather a jarring mash-up of sublime human achievement (e.g. the Apollo artifacts), blatant pay-for-play corporate shilling, and context-free shrines to past and present flying weapons.  Armstrong’s space suit is just down the hall from trade-show-like mock-ups of the next-generation killer drones (complete with “Sponsored by The Weyland-Yutani Corporation” signs): it makes visiting the Air and Space museum something of a love-hate roller-coaster.

  13. In the past, demonstrators have thrown blood at National Air and Space Museum displays. The security folks have an obligation to protect the artifacts. Signs aren’t allowed in because they can damage the stuff. One effect of the incident was that this evening’s lecture on Moon geology had to be cancelled.

  14. I know nothing about the particulars of the drone exhibit, but if the museum is functioning as a mouthpiece for military propaganda, then it’s a legitimate target for protests.  President Obama just ordered the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki for being a “motivator” of terrorism.  If “motivators” are fair game for extrajudicial execution, military propaganda is certainly fair game for protests.

    1. Totally disagree if you mean you think it’s fair game to go inside, en masse, and take over the museum.

      The Air and Space museum is a huge place, with many items in its permanent collection, and this drone exhibit is an opportunity for people who do and don’t support the war to learn about how these things we buy with our tax dollars look, feel, and work. Air and Space is an amazing place for science and space education, there’s no museum like it in the entire world. I wasn’t there for the confrontation, but I can understand the guards feeling compelled to use force to stop a group of 300 or more (by some reports) from coming in and possibly damaging items in the museum’s collection. If the protesters were some wacky group on the right wing of the spectrum (let’s say, a group of evangelicals who don’t believe Jesus wants us to fly spaceships?), I’d feel the same way.That said, pepper spray is no goddamned joke. I wonder if a more peaceful response was possible.

      1. From the update to the story, “When a security guard stopped group members from entering, saying they could not bring in signs, he was apparently held by demonstrators, Gibbons said. A second guard who arrived used pepper spray on at least one person and the crowd dispersed, he added.”

        Assuming this report is accurate, as soon as they grabbed and held the first security guard against his will, all bets were off for them.  The idiots got what they deserved.  For those who were just hanging out nearby the idiots, next time choose your associates more carefully.  Or maybe don’t just go along with the crowd and try thinking and acting for yourself.

        1. ialreadyexist is right. From the Post: “When a security guard told them they could not enter, demonstrators pushed the guard outside and up against a wall, St. Thomas said.” Forcing entry en masse into the Smithsonian is an offensive and counterproductive protest tactic. Attacking a Smithsonian guard, if that turns out to be true, is violent crime. This is why we have pepper spray — safer than a club to the head.

      2. Xeni, when — according to the AP — protesters detained a security guard, it stopped being a peaceful protest.

    2. Also, dude, cmon there are like 22 major exhibits on display at Air and Space right now!

      ONE of them is about unmanned military drones. I do not think killing people in Afghanistan or Iraq or whatever with drones is a “good thing,” but I would actually like to see this exhibit. I have never seen one up close. But my taxes paid for all of them, in part.

      Many of the other exhibits are “peaceful” in nature, many relate to space and astronomy. And some of them relate to America’s military history. Singling out this one exhibit as something that should permit mobs to come in and take over is nuts. If it’s okay for these guys, it’s okay for (insert political or religious group you do not like here) to come in and bully the nice people who run the museum (some of whom are Boing Boing readers, and people I know personally).

      PS Antinous: I love you man.

    3. How exactly should the technology behind a modern advance in “Air & Space” technology be displayed so as not to come off as a “mouthpiece for military propaganda?” While I have not gone to this specific exhibits I see the exhibits at the the Air & Space Museum as simply presenting the items as-is. Yes, there will be tiny American flags, but I don’t think it’s too far fetched to imagine someone going there and seeing the drones for the first time up close and thinking, “Wow, this is sick!” Are guards trained to control how people think there as well?  Not the case.

      There is a show on WBAI here in NYC called “Weaponry” and while the host is ex-Military, he’s not some “tool” just pushing how great the American military industrial complex is. In fact he’s quite critical of the bloated mess the U.S. Wilitary-industrial complex is.  He explains the pluses and minuses of procurement as well as the politics behind the decisions. Which has helped me—and others—better understand the pork-barrel mess the U.S. Wilitary-industrial complex is.

      You can’t really say something like “No more spending on war!” without understanding how the money is spent and where and who gets it.  If most Americans truly knew how much money is utterly wasted on American military spending they would be outraged.

      Which is all to say a bunch of “protestors” storming into a museum, grabbing a guard and then having another guard do what they could to protect him from an overwhelming force makes sense. Maybe mace or pepper spray wasn’t the best solution, but I am not too sure how anyone would react differently given the circumstances.

  15. It’s funny AP calls this (100 to 200) people a large group of protestors. When OWS started a couple of thousand was not even worth reporting.

  16. I was actually at the Air and Space museum a couple of weeks ago – the security is INSANE. anyone who wanted to challenge that gauntlet was asking for escalation – the guards there are really, really rude and confrontational anyway.

    We had to FedEx our damn multitools back home because they didn’t have a bag check system. Like several other museums we went to. And they never told us there were bag checks nearby.

    I saw that drone exhibit – I was surprised they actually had those things on display, since some of the drone parts were covered because they were still classified. No shit, the guards are going to be aggressive.

    The sad thing is, these guys are the ones who are going to become the public face for the whole Occupy Wall Street movement, since it’s a perfect storm of douchebaggery and anti-Americanism. Doesn’t matter how true it is – so long as it fits into existing propaganda models, the media will make it true.

    1. Gah – it drives me batty when places don’t have check ins for knives. Even Disney World has little lockers for them. If I can, I usually step out and hide it in some landscaping.

      But your comments about the drone remind me when the when I got to see a real U2 at an airshow. You could get close – just not tooooo close. And IIRC some things were blacked out/covered up. The F-117s were like that too.

      I remember going up to the dummy (at least I assume they were dummy) Sidewinder missiles on the F-16s to get measurements for my 1:3 scale model rocket.

  17. It would be nice if Boing Boing posted comments with a thread that connected all relevant responses.

  18. Look, a china shop is the wrong venue for a bowling tournament, even if
    they have some crystal bowling pins on display.  And a museum of
    priceless, absolutely irreplaceable national and international and
    f*cking LUNAR artifacts is the wrong venue to protest some pieces of war technology, even if
    they have a couple of those pieces on display.

    Gaw, the protestors should thank security for macing them at the gate.  No
    telling what harm would have come to them if they had been allowed to
    come face to face with the museum staff and volunteers.

    1. ‘Lunar artifacts are anti-ecologocal instances of the western tendency to control external reality despite consequences.’ I don’t believe that, but it is still a valid point.

  19. Have to wonder how a poor civilian mother, father, son, daughter who had their loved ones blown to bits by one of our remote controlled kill machines would think about an exhibit celebrating these machines…

    1. Is the exhibit really celebrating them, or showing them for what they are?  Would it really be better if none of these items were on display anywhere?  Do you really want to live in a country where tools of war are simply never shown to the public and hidden away from view with the only ones who ever come close to seeing them being victims or military?

      How about the piles of armor at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC? How many people died or were killed in those tools of war? Should they be removed from view until neutral non-battle-used armor can be found?

      1. To use your fantastic comparison, I imagine that…say …Indians in Meso-America 500 years ago would probably not be very “stoked” to see the implements of their doom at the hands of the Spanish on display for Europeans to ooh and ahhh over..

        How are they showing them for what they are by the way?  Is there a photo of some dude at the pentagon with a joystick contrasted with a photo of blood, buts and body appendages all over the place?

        1. How are they showing them for what they are by the way?  Is there a photo of some dude at the pentagon with a joystick contrasted with a photo of blood, buts and body appendages all over the place?

          Probably not, but are you telling me someone can’t do a Google search or read further?  I mean seriously, this isn’t like a creationist exihibit.

          1. What is the point if there’s no *current* context at all?  Especially considering that these controversial tactics of assassination (in sovereign countries) have also taken out a shitload of “collateral damage” and have resulted in the fresh minting of new fighter after new fighter?  

            BTW, I loved this museum when I went to it years ago, I truly think the drone thing is bizarre though.  Maybe I just know about more about U.S. policy than I did back then though….

            It’s like showing the advanced technical wonders of Napalm during the Vietnam war. It turns my stomach, that’s all I know.

          2. Is anyone in this media-saturated, Internet-savvy age going to see a drone that is featured in the media and not understand how it was used?

          3. Really? How exactly is it more wrong to see a Military weapon on exhibit than a sword or “ye olde” gun on exhibit?

          4. Navin, where do you get the idea that somehow drones are worse weapons than others? The Smithsonian has missiles, jets and other weapons of war on display next to other non-military items? Why are you apoplectic about this specific exhibit?

            Are you angry at Google Maps and GPS? Because technically speaking satellite maps and GPS have been used by the military in the U.S. as well.

            Technically speaking shouldn’t every BoingBoing article on the birth of computing be scorned as well since all that does is promote the computers the military used to help create weapons , strategies & tactics of war?

      2. Is the exhibit really celebrating them, or showing them for what they are?

        That would depend on the context in which the exhibit presents them.  Does anyone have any actual museum verbiage that would provide that?

        How about the piles of armor at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC? How many people died or were killed in those tools of war? Should they be removed from view until neutral non-battle-used armor can be found?

        How many people have been killed by medieval armor in the last year?  Because otherwise, your comparison is inane by a time factor of half a millennium.

        1. I was there in April, and they had three of the drones on display then. They were tucked off to the side, and from what I saw they were the reconnaissance variants of these machines. Oh, and they  were supported by large mannequins of all former presidents (INCLUDING Grover Cleveland — I couldn’t believe it!) and were draped in flags and nestled in a bed of Mom’s apple pie.

          I didn’t really think the display was too over-the-top, but maybe I’m just blind to these things.

          How do you think they were displayed? “These are reconnaissance drones. This is what they do. Here are some facts about them. This is when they were first introduced.” It’s a world-class museum, curated by intelligent human beings, but showcasing interesting developments in air and space travel.

        2. How many people have been killed by medieval armor in the last year?

          Medieval armor doesn’t kill people.  People in medieval armor kill people.

          [Sorry.  Couldn’t resist. :-)]

    2. Well, it’s just a guess, but maybe they would feel the opposite of a civilian mother, father, son, daughter who had their loved one saved by a drone killing the person who was going to kill them.

      War is Hell, but you can’t pretend that it’s black & white.

          1. Are you seriously trying to claim that I’m wrong?

            ahankinson, I’d like to introduce you to travtastic.  Enjoy.

          2. You know, maybe there’s a difference between people dying who signed up for war, and people dying from the guns and bombs used by the first group. Clearly I’m not saying that either death is right, but to claim they’re even remotely equivalent is outlandish.

      1. Yes it would indeed be curious to see how many people in the East feel that they’ve been ‘saved’ by our wars and drones…….

    1. John Glenn never should have pinned down that security guard for saying the moon landing was faked.

    2. John Glenn lived through the ’60’s. Now, those were turbulent times. We haven’t got there yet but Mr. Glenn might be feeling deja vu and he might see the big picture (like looking down at this blue planet from space) and see things in a different prospective. He might not have been terribly freaked out by a little incidence in another part of a huge museum.

      1. If you watch her closely towards the end of the video she looks for cameras and when she thinks no one is looking, she drinks a Starbucks pumpkin spice frappuccino.

  20. Look, this is the dance. Push boundaries, get maced, it makes the news, people might spend a couple seconds musing over whether it’s cool we kill brown people with flying robots. That’s more than they did yesterday.

    Is it cool to rush a museum? Not especially. Even if they didn’t plan to break shit, it could easily have gotten out of hand. I don’t blame security for protecting their building.

    But I don’t really blame the protesters for wanting to engage in some civil disobedience. We *should* be talking about drones. Why aren’t we?

    Let’s dance.

  21. To the people that believe things like the drones do not belong in that museum … if it has been in the air or in space and is historically noteworthy it by definition belongs in that museum. Not all of human history has been a good thing, a lot of it being violent and terrifying  but it is our history none the less and should be preserved.

      1. And that has absolutely nothing to do with what I just said. I think those things are terrifying as all f*ck, don’t get me wrong, however that does not change the fact that they are in that museum because they represent a historical, game-changing innovation in air-based warfare. They are capable of terrible, terrible things as we have recently been witnessing them used for. They belong in that museum.

  22. Navin, please tell me exactly how a person who “looks like” he or she would use violence looks. I can’t tell you how many people who look like nice, respectable office workers — and probably are — that I’ve seen start fights, act like pricks, and do mean, nasty and illegal things. 

  23. Re: displaying drones and/or military hardware of the past.

    The three things a culture is most remembered for are:

    1) The art and architecture they produced

    2) The science and discoveries made

    3) The wars they fought

  24. I would like to point out that from the video it’s clear that the ones who were maced were most definitely a part of the Occupy DC protest.  The one woman in pink is code pinko medea benjamin (google her).  She’s a professional protester and is certainly one of the more influential personalities within the movement.

    1. “Professional protesters” will attach themselves to anything. Attending the Occupy DC protest and this one doesn’t mean the two movements are necessarily linked.

    2. It’s ridiculous to call Medea Benjamin “one of the more influential personalities” of the occupation protests. It’s even more ridiculous than using “pinko”. Archie Bunker, izzat you?

  25. Anyone notice at :52 that the girl with the pink sign lays down, straightens out her sign, and then goes on being dramatic.. drinking some water, and spitting it out? I got the impression she was staging her drama.

  26. I was just reading on Daily Kos that an assistant editor at The American Spectator (right-wing) is bragging about being the instigator and agent provocateur of this action. Thought that relevant to the discussion, and early judgment of motive.

  27. That video looked like something I’d see on South Park, people all yelling “medic!” like they’re in teh warz. Other people are yelling “Shame!” as they protest outside a museum that does a wonderful service of informing the public and imparting knowledge.

  28. We should, and you’re right. I don’t know any historian worth his/her salt who would disagree with you. I imagine they don’t because they have to walk a fine line between getting people, often with families in tow, through the door and appealing for public funding. I assume then, that they sometimes have to play it safe. Some museums don’t. Auschwitz had nothing against showing some grisly artefacts.

    But I don’t know what point you’re making other than unpleasant things should be shown in museums. They should…and?

  29. That there may have been multiple groups of protestors, only some of whom may have been acting violently or intending to commit violence: irrelevant to the guards, who don’t know or care which group any given person belongs to, and who are being paid to keep the building (and its contents, including visitors) safe.

    That the museum contains valuable artifacts or weapons of war is irrelevant to whether it is acceptable for protestors to enter. Again, the guards are charged with keeping order, and if they suspect chaos is about to ensue they’re within their rights to ask anybody to leave who they suspect may be a problem, whether their assessment is correct or not. It may be a government building but that doesn’t mean just because you pay taxes you can enter it at any time.

    Not sure what John Glenn’s being an awesome hero astronaut has to do with anything; if he was escorted out for his safety, good job. If he was escorted out because he was seen as a potential threat, it’s probably because anybody who seemed remotely threatening or associated with the protestors was escorted out, regardless of age. The guards weren’t roaming around looking for people to mace; the protestors came to them. I don’t really see this as an abuse of authority.

    What is relevant is that a group of people put the guards into panic mode and some (perhaps innocent) protestors got pepper-sprayed. What did they expect was going to happen when they, along with others whose behavior they had no control over, entered a building with security guards who saw them all as one big potential threat?

  30. Agents Provacateur from the The American Spectator confirmed:

    Says it all, really.

    I’m saddened that some minority of Conservatives  don’t see that this is for them too.

    The Tea Party campaign was a good and timely campaign to protest overreach by the government.
    The 99% campaign is the same thing to protest overreach by corporate interests.

    Both seem needed, to me. Too much power in any one place is worrying, and too much abuse of power is unquestionably bad. Any concentration of power needs checks and balances put in to control it. Political, or corporate, doesn’t matter.

    1. Is your whole concept of the Tea Party based on their own descriptions?

      What overreach were they protesting, socialism in my freaking Medicare?

  31. I almost feel sorry for this fucker.  Consequences will never be the same.

    Anonymous never forgives… and never forgets.

    I christen thee “meathead”…

    Provocateur (a.k.a. target):

  32. On a side note… when are these asshats going to realize that cameras are EVERYWHERE?

    You could learn a lot from a Tony Baloney.

    “I deserved to get a face full of high-grade pepper, and the guards who sprayed me acted with more courage than I saw from any of the protesters.”

  34. Isn’t it possible that, if you don’t like what the  drones are being used for, you can demonstrate against the people making the policy?
    If there were only somewhere in Washington that you could find the guy who makes this policy. Where could he possibly be?Hint: NOT in the Air and Space museum. Another hint: His house is on Pennsylvania Avenue.

  35. There is something terrifyingly wrong with your country, and your whole way of thinking, if you think it’s normal and acceptable for museum security guards to be armed and carrying pepper spray.

    1. I don’t know why it’s any different than a cop having a gun, the problem is what they do with their weapons. You act like our security guards carry bazookas and portable waterboarding machines.

      1. I  think it’s just as bad or possibly worse that you let them carry guns around too.  What sort of lawless violent hell-hole are you living in, Somalia?

        1. I’m just about the last person who’s going to support the police, but are you suggesting that they go around completely unarmed? Or do you mean the security guards? The guards should not have guns.

    2. What should they be armed with, in the case someone decides to open fire like at the holocaust museum or take a bat to the exhibits. I’m pretty comfortable with having people injured temporarily to protect shit from being destroyed permanently. 

  36. Oh Xeni. I’m sure the people who did this had thought through their actions very carefully and were aware that John Glenn was going to be in the building.

    Also, it’s moronic to debate whether these people did or did not represent Occupy DC when it’s an explicitly leaderless, decentralised movement.

    That said, strange choice of target. Why aren’t people forcing their way past the security guards in somewhere like Goldman Sachs and causing trouble there? I guess it’s because bank guards seem scarier than museum guards. And you’re allowed to be in a museum, but going into a private office is “naughty”.

    Honestly, I don’t get why it’s taking the 99% so long to take effective action. You have easy access to guns in the US, right? Shoot up a dozen Wall Street offices/champagne parties and the pigs will have to capitulate like they did in the 30s!

  37. Agree that, if the AP story is accurate and the protesters put their hands on a security guard, it escalated the situation. This may have been a poorly planned act of civil disobedience. On the other hand, I’m curious why it’s considered wrong to protest in the presence of John Glenn. Cause he’s 90 and a “national treasure?” That doesn’t make sense. 

    1. Totally agreed.

      Sentimental bullshit.

      He happens to be at a museum that’s showcasing a load of war stuff – that isn’t even old.  And it’s such a crime because he’s been to space.

      *rolls eyes*

  38. If museums are going to get involved in politics, it’s not really surprising they’ll acquire an opposition.

    War machines in current use belong at a trade fair.

    Pepper spray ought to be illegal – doesn’t it kill asthmatics?

    tl;dr  –  legitimate protest countered with brutality (again)

  39. *sigh* and this is why the anti-war movement never caught on in America. Because of stupid, nit-picking arguments about the fine details of what is or is not legitimate protest, or what is the right way to illustrate it, or whatever.

    Honestly, the WWI exhibit at THAT VERY SAME MUSEUM does a pretty good job of bringing home just how horrible it was. That is only possible because there are no political forces trying to tell a different story about it, since it happened almost a century ago. WWII scholarship is just starting to really get into the brutality perpetrated by Allied commanders – because it is only now that WWII veterans are not a huge political force, who can pressure publishers, universities, television channels, or museums to change the presentation. This drone exhibit is involved with current events – no kidding, it’s going to be without context. Any context you put around it will involve huge political infighting (like what’s going on in this thread right now) and so, they are not going to put a lot of context around it. Otherwise, Senator McHawk and Representative Leftie are going to rake them over the coals.

    So, we have agent provocateurs and professional protestors making asses of themselves in one of the greatest museums in the country. The biggest object lesson to take from this incident is that we need to police ourselves. Not to the assholish level that some Guardian Angels seem to think is necessary, but to grab the most vigorous people who are looking for confrontation, and sit on them if necessary to keep from creating an incident like this. The agent provocateurs will keep trying to escalate – and if it takes them popping me one in the mouth to get them arrested and out of there, then so be it. Let’s see them worm their way out of an incident report, since they like the authorities so much :)

  40. I thought the OWS movement was mainly about the unfairness of the system, the powerful doing as the please without repercussion, the loss of the middle class, the takeover of government by business, evil bankers and hedge fund managers,etc. etc.  What does this museum have to do with any of that? These idiots are playing right into the hands of Fox News and the Republicans who work for the above mentioned entities (or they were hired by them). One word: FOCUS!

    If you want to protest drones, start an Occupy the Air and Space Museum movement!

  41. “John Glenn. Who is a living national treasure. Who is 90 years old. Nice going, guys.”

    Given Boing-boing’s generally supportive slant to the Occupy Wall Street protesters and previous protests against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, I’m having a hard time figuring out who you’re pissed off at here. The protesters? The security guards? The police? The PR flak for the Smithsonian?

  42. The incident described in the news and post anchoring this thread were the result of now self-confessed, right-wing provocateurs – not any genuine “Occupy” participants.

    Here’s a link to the lead provocateurs’ own admission, published on his own blog, complete with his description of the “Occupy” participants’ responses to his attempts to incite violent confrontations.

    I’ll withhold adding my own $0.02 other than to say I’m wholly unsurprised at the fact that right-wing agitators will use deception and violence in service of realizing their own ideological objectives.

  43. No one here seems to have chirped in with a description of the actual exhibit, so here’s my best estimation based on a visit about a month back. 

    It’s at the end of the aviation side of the museum, viewable from the upper and lower levels. (I viewed it from the upper.) There are a number of drones/unmanned aircraft/warmachines/etc hanging from the ceiling, and along the railing, there are panels with diagrams to describe which plane is which.

    The exhibit is definitely historic in nature, as it includes, IIRC, the first unmanned aircraft used by the military, which looks straight out of Maker Faire. The descriptions on the panels are straightofrward. No “saving American lives” sort of stuff, though, it does feel celebratory of the technical achievements involved in making a pilotless aircraft that can be remote controlled from the other side of the world. 

    It includes a couple of failed prototypes, as well as some that apparently were used in the current war. 

    In re Antinous’ concerns, I don’t get the vibe that it’s glorifying the war at all. I think if you’re pro-war, you could probably leave thinking it’s pretty cool we can kill people with them, I think if you’re anti-war, you probably leave feeling a little unnerved that we’re using this amazing technology to kill. Either way, it’s played pretty much straight down the middle. 

    I’m revealing my biases here, but the idea of protesting it seems pretty completely foolhardy to me, especially when you have so many other vestiges of and tributes to Eternal War in and around DC that are way more offensive. 

    1. Thank you, Tennfann. Comparing that to an exhibit of Nazi art doesn’t work for me. And the whole thing is beside the point if the escalation was provoked by provocateurs, which it sounds as if it may have been.

  44. The inner halls of museums and libraries and other institutions of knowledge/expression are off limits. Bottom line.

    The argument over the offensiveness of what’s inside is irrelevant. The world’s oldest wine jug should be safe from Prohibitionists. Holocaust relics should be safe from deniers. Presidential letters should be safe from those who disagree with their presidents’ policies.

    If you disagree with what’s inside, that disagreement can overpower the environment all the way up to the entrance. But inside it’s the curators’ show. Discuss/throw in your opinion, fine. But anything that threatens access should be minimized.

    1. We’ve lost some of the greatest secrets in human history simply because one group of people didn’t want to hear it.  We have an obligation to preserve our knowledge and culture.  Not for ourselves, but for generations too far distanced to feel anything but curiosity.

  45. That’s really not the worst thing that ever happened to John Glenn. Space Ghost once blasted him in the face.

  46. At least one of the people who went to the Air and Space museum was an infiltrator, an associate editor from The American Spectator, a right-wing publication.  He posted his story in his article.  Wonder how many others were also plants.

  47. Antinous, I kind of get your point here, but I think it’s not helpful to compare the two in such a blunt way. You should spend some time on the Air and Space Museum website before comparing this to a nazi art exhibit. And “going there” is so inflammatory, it’s like feeding trolls you don’t even know you have, bro. 

    Anyway, the point may well be moot:

  48. “The American Spectator Foundation is the 501(c)(3)
    organization responsible for publishing The American Spectator
    magazine and training aspiring journalists who espouse traditional
    American values.”
    Sounds about right.

  49. Object fetishism + feral nostalgia x propaganda = Most (but not all) museums. Sorry to offend, but this  human just doesn’t care much about museums.

    Information is awesome. All information should be circulated in a free and equal manner.

    I just reread this whole thread. Good times! There are many intelligent humans in BB threads. Many seem to hold to specific reality models. But that doesn’t make them less intelligent. However, they can only process information according to the model they use.

    “Multi-model agnosticism or BUST!” — Genre Slur channeling Charles Fort c/o Robert Anton Wilson.

  50. I was going to comment “Idiots, what did they expect?” until I saw the “Occupy Sesame Street” post, and now all I can do is laugh and laugh. Thanks for reminding us once again not to take life and our fellow humans too seriously, Boing Boing!!

  51. Kind of strange that they’d attack a museum.  I would have thought this group would find such a thing abhorrent.  Maybe the “right-wing provocateur” angle makes some sense, not because righties love to obliterate knowledge but because it was intended to discredit the actual protestors.

    As far as the rape thing, I’ll note that fighter pilots rarely rape women unless they are flying VERY low and rush things a bit.

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