When I was at the national protest against massive unconstitutional surveillance two days ago, organizers were handing out a piece of paper titled “CHANT SHEET.” These were the chants we were supposed to practice and use during the march:
- They say wire tap / We say fight back
- You say land of the free? I say my data belongs to me!
- When our democracy is under attack — what do we do? Stand up fight back!
- All of our privacy is under attack — what do we do? Stand up fight back!
- What do we want? The 4th Amendment! When do we want it? Now!
- What do we want? Privacy! When do we want it? Always!
- We can be / Safe and Free
- Hey hey, ho ho, Mass surveillance? We say no
- We can’t be free without our privacy
- No secret laws. No secret courts. No secret surveillance
The two most common chants were #1 and a modification of #8 (Hey hey, ho ho, mass surveillance has got to go). I just couldn’t get enthusiastic about any of these.
Only a small part of the problem is me — maybe I’m getting old, but I’ve hey heyed and ho hoed enough in my life already. Can we start a chant just for once with “Bong bong, boop boop?” or “Zap zap, zip zip” or “Fred Fred, Frieda Frieda”? Many of the other chants led to confusion because they didn’t have a clear rhythm (#2, #5, #8, #9, #10); when large numbers of people are trying to coordinate their chants so as to be heard, you’ve got to have a clear rhythm. Other chants (#1, #3, #4) had a lot of “fight” in them. Call me a pacifist, but I think a big part of the problem with the expanded surveillance powers of the U.S. Government is that it’s been exploiting the sense that we’re fighting, fighting, fighting, fighting, fighting and need every possible
power device of exploitation tool in order to win the fight. In order to escape the Homeland Security trap, I think we have to stop casting ourselves as participants in “fights” and find other language.
I don’t think I was the only one who was dissatisfied. The chants on the chant list just kept trailing off during the march to Capitol Hill. I found myself in the middle of the march improvising a little, with “NSA? Uh uh! No way!” and “Privacy’s a civil right / civil right / civil right / Privacy’s a civil right / not a privilege” (sung to the tune of London Bridge). They worked for a bit, but there’s got to be some better ideas out there for chants in an anti-surveillance protest. Have you got any ideas? Share ’em in the comments!