Occupy Atlanta’s Rules of Parliamentary Procedure: X-Posed!!!

Isa Ray, the megaphone-wielding consensus-builder featured in the recent video of Occupy Atlanta’s debate over a U.S. congressman’s attempt to speak, talked with Reason this morning about the Occupy movement’s consensus process and his own post-debate departure from the group’s facilitation committee.

“I have, because of other time commitments, not been able to go to the facilitation committee meetings,” Ray said. “The process committee is working to get more people trained in the process and to have a larger pool of people.” 

Ray said he was part of the four-person process committee chosen by the consensus process the Sunday before the event.

This same four-person group acted as the facilitation team – de facto leaders of the technically leaderless 500-person event – on Friday, when Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) was prevented from speaking.  

A well-shot video of the episode has been drawing unwanted attention to Occupy Atlanta: 

Another Occupy Atlanta representative told Reason that during a meeting after the Lewis episode, “someone chewed out the facilitation team for being the all white guy show and Isa stepped down in favor of someone else (not a white guy).” 

Ray, who works for a health food and supplement company, did not dispute this characterization. “It's good to have a diversity of voices,” he said. This is a movement that's a voice for all of the people. It’s also a good idea to rotate the moderator to include more voices. And it’s good for the moderator, because it’s a very exhausting role.” 

The process procedure, Ray explained, is developed differently, by General Assembly consensus, for every Occupy event. In Atlanta, the “mic check” and “human microphone” tactics (during which the crowd re-intones every clause spoken by the designated speaker) were intended as a way to work around the city government’s failure to give the assembly a permit for public address systems in a timely manner.

These procedures are generally based on the Take the Square Quick Guide, which was written by the Commission for Group Dynamics in Assemblies of the Puerta del Sol Protest Camp. This group put about 5,000 people into a public area of Madrid, Spain for sixteen days in May of this year. (Ray prefers to use Puerta del Sol as a point of comparison with the Occupy events, rather than Cairo’s Tahrir Square.)

Ray noted that there are problems with the consensus process but said the group is perfecting it and claimed it has advantages over voting. “Consensus is based on the idea that each voice is valuable,” he said. “Voting is just a way of choosing between two alternatives. It allows majority rule to dominate a minority. With consensus, the idea is that each voice may have something to add. The goal is to synthesize that into something the entire group can agree with.”

Nevertheless, he acknowledged that viewers of the Lewis video might find the process off-putting. “I watch that video and I see: This is the process working, this is the process working. Then I see where the process got rushed – where we might have had two more rounds of discussion.” 

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  • Zuo||

    Ray is a wannabe Stalinist. Problem is he's a pussy fuck and a real Stalin could easily "Snowball" him (in keeping with the Animal Farm theme) in about 2 seconds flat.

  • ||

    He is one of the pussy fucks who excuses the actions of the real Stalinists. That is until they line him up and shoot him.

  • smh||

    that's retarded.

  • Zuo||

    No its not. I can totally see it. Ray is the epitome of "useful idiot". Useful idiots have expiration dates, you know.

  • smh||

    shouldn't you be commenting on a drudge link somewhere?

  • PantsFan||

    GOOD LORD could you imagine if Drudge had comments?

  • cynical||

    Really? Something about the way he talked screamed "useless middle management suckup" to me. Missed his true calling, I suppose.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The goal is to synthesize that into something the entire group can agree with.

    The consensus was synthetic, alright. A sizable group of individuals in the group - some could argue over half - wanted but didn't get to hear what Lewis had to say.

  • ||

    When I think of organizations that typical run by "consensus" and try to avoid voting, I think of corporate boards.

    Thus, I keep getting the feeling that the Occupy Whatever people want to replace democracy (with all that icky voting) with corporatism. And yet they say they hate corporations?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    There's a reason corporate boards work by consensus instead of voting. Nobody wants to be held responsible for a decision. Congress would LOVE to work by consensus.

  • ||

    What exactly is the point of the "mic check, mic check" business? I get the whole intone-after-me bit -- although I find it creepy and pathetic, I at least understand its rationale. But I don't get the intent of the "mic check" part. Anyone know?

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    My understanding per Isa is that you say "Mic check" so that the rest of the Human Microphone knows who the proper speaker is and they repeat after you. You start off your comments by saying "Mic check," and then the Human Microphone repeats it so there's agreement about who the designated speaker is.

    I think in the vid he keeps saying "Mic check!" to cut through the crosstalk.

    Quick vote: Human Microphone or Human Centipede — which would you rather join?

  • withheld to protect the guilty||

    Human daisy chain

  • ||

    HUMANCENTiPAD.

    Would you mind loaning me some of your lipstick, Tim? Because I wanna at least look pretty the next time you decide to fuck me.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Now that's a hard choice.

    I'll pick centipede if I get to be in front.

  • ||

    It's my policy never to join any Human Centipede(capitalized?) that would have me as a segment.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    I wonder who the original imbecile was who came up with THAT idea?

  • ||

    Wouldn't confusion cause some sort of feedback?

    Perhaps two guys with beards screaming 'mic check!' into one another's faces until the end of time.

  • Apogee||

    Human Microphone or Human Centipede — which would you rather join?

    Is there a difference?

  • Piggy||

    But I've got the conch!

  • Platypus||

    This is the process working, this is the process working.

    If you have to convince yourself of this, it ISN'T working.

  • ||

    I am so sick of "procedure." Can't anything be done simply. Fuck, even STEVE SMITH has procedures.

  • Dunce-Phy||

    Finally someone who sees it my way. Procedures and paperwork are wastes of time.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Your post does not conform to the format outlined in last week's memo. Please revise and resubmit for our review.

  • PantsFan||

    You used the old cover sheet for your TPS Report.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Shit. I didn't get that memo.

    I must have been distracted by that chick on channel 9.

  • Joe M||

    Dark Helmet had something to say on this subject.

  • ||

    Evil will always triumph because good is dumb?

  • Joe M||

    That or "just go".

  • Pip||

    As someone posted on a different thread:

    The 99th percentile of Americans, by income, starts with households earning incomes of $593,000. The "We Are the 99 percent" branding puts somebody making $500,000 per year on the oppressed-and-downtrodden side of the wage divide. Indeed, "99 percent" is so expansive a designation that it includes most of the bankers working on Wall Street.

    BTW, I've actually had to do work at the office the last week or two. I don't get done reading the morning links until about mid-afternoon and barely have time to post. I realize that's a blessing for most of you, but for me it really sucks. Great to have a job, though.

  • SIV||

    Great to have a job, though.

    No thanks to me!

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    I fucking hate consensus. Consensus is a poor substitute for principles and a shield for the morally weak.

    I had a boss who was a consensus freak. We could never get out of a damn meeting on time because he had to be absolutely certain everyone was happy with the decisions made.

  • ||

    I'm sorry. Was this necessary?

  • Barack Obama||

    “I watch that video and I see: This is the process working, this is the process working."

    Let me be clear.

    I understand completely.

  • ||

    So, instead of marching to DC to fuck with the Wall Street Co-conspirators, they are gonna march on individual mansions? What if the billionaire question actually empathizes with their plight?

    http://money.cnn.com/2011/10/1.....?hpt=hp_t2

    Blast away Fluffy, blast away.

  • ||

    gee, I wish i were a billionaire, and they were coming to my house. I give them some pressed ham, and maybe some redeye gravy.

  • ||

    "I have a ham and mayonnaise dinner waiting for me back at my mansion."

  • ||

    Ah, judge Whitey. Mic check, mic check.

  • Platypus||

    Price check, price check!
    Price check, price check!

    Thank you for shopping at McProtest.

  • ¢||

    But I don't get the intent of the "mic check" part. Anyone know?

    You saw it. It's to terrorize the valueless voices of non-consensus into silence.

    Fascist rally is fascist.

  • sevo||

    Related:
    "When I checked in with her Monday, she was even more committed.
    "I gave notice at work," she said. "I worked there five years. I've never done anything like this before, but I've never felt this kind of pressure and insult from the system."
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/.....1LFNLO.DTL

    Yes, folks, you read that right: Ms. Anglin is quitting her job so she can go protest, among other things, a lack of jobs.
    You. Can't. Make. This. Up.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    She's just doing her part to create opportunity for others.

  • Jeffersonian||

    Occupational Darwinism.

  • BoscoH||

    WTF? "Off-putting?" It was fücking hilarious. The only way it could have been funnier is if they did that to Biden or Obama.

  • Joe M||

    “I watch that video and I see: This is the process working, this is the process working. Then I see where the process got rushed – where we might have had two more rounds of discussion.”

    The entire video, during which they did nothing but work on "process", was more than ten minutes long. Now, I'm not sure I'd care all that much for what John Lewis would've had to say, but isn't it just possible that he could've given a quick ten minute speech during the time that was totally wasted and let them get back to what they were doing? When every single possible decision takes that long, you're not going to accomplish much other than going around and around sticking to "process".

  • Llama Face||

    Backward, forward, inward, outward
    Bottom to the top
    Never a beginning
    There can never be a stop....

  • sevo||

    "When every single possible decision takes that long, you're not going to accomplish much other than going around and around sticking to "process"."

    But process and intentions are far superior to results!
    Only right-wingers care about results.

  • Jeffersonian||

    I think he said in an interview later that he was just going to express his support for the group and wish them well, a fraction of what it took these Romper-Room Stalinists to decide if they were going to let him say it.

  • ||

    I think he said in an interview later that he was just going to express his support for the group and wish them well ...

    Which the mind numbed drones would have to echo back at him. Now that would have been funny.

  • sounds real good||

    Yes, it would have been. I'm doubly sorry he didn't get to speak now.

  • ||

    Regarding the human microphone:

    I was told last week, by Wired magazine no less, that these protesters were hipster Techno-weenies of the wizard class; couldn't somebody come up with a system whereby the speaker would speak into his phone and the audience could listen on their phones via the web?

  • Protester||

    WHAT?!! And use devices created and marketed by corporations?!

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    These assholes don't create, they consume. They think the act of expressing their emotions is a gift to society.

  • ||

    While the protesters are "hipster Techno-Weenies of the wizard class", I'll bet very few of them have a SCIENCE degree in engineering, computers, physics, or the like. Most are probably $100K+ in debt with graduate degrees in "women's studies" & sociology, which, if they are lucky will top out somewhere near $40K/year.

    Now if the facilitators needed someone to roll a D10 or D20 to see if Lewis could speak on the mic, the techno-weenies would've covered the ground with them.....

  • ||

    Facilitation teams and process committees...I feel like I'm stuck in some endless board meeting purposed to make the worker bees feel important.

    JUST LET ME DO MY DAMNED JOB AND STAY OUT OF MY WAY!

    Or not. This is the kind of stuff that gives me migraines. The bureaucracy they hate, they love.

  • ||

    I should add, I don't necessarily want to feel important. I want my paycheck and the stuff it will get me. That doesn't mean I won't do my job well or even excel from time to time.

    But making it tiresomely difficult to give me a voice when I have a real grievance is a fan-fucking-tastic way to gum up the works.

  • Ed Zacharias||

    " . . . Then I see where the process got rushed – where we might have had two more rounds of discussion.”

    Yep, I saw the video and that's EXACTLY what I took away from it.

    All you needed was two more rounds (not three!) of discussion, and that totally would have worked for me.

    Jeebus.

  • Tolly||

    Piss off, you faux-commie, liberal arts scumbag. I went to school with enough phoney blowhards like you to know just how tolerant and open to discussion you really are.

    I'm gonna go ahead and judge your scrawny Che-shirted book by its cover. You probably work full-time in some non-essential protest/farm/non-profit suckhole organization. You dont earn shit, but you're gonna go out and demand more of everyone else's money be taken by force.

  • Spoonman.||

    "This is the process working."

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  • irwin mann||

    The guy in the JUST DO IT tee shirt didn't get the memo that "We are protesting corporate exploitation."

  • kawliga||

    Watching these idiots play "mother may I" was unbearable. What a bunch of pathetic losers.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    I hope these clowns keep up this kind of nonsense and get a lot more publicity about it.

    They are their own worst enemy and the more exposure they get, the faster they'll be laughed off the stage.

  • non||

    The sad part was near the end when the crowd started to chant "Let him speak" until Mr. Voice of the People reasserted the collective will.

  • David||

    He sees the video and thinks to himself that, "this is the process working"? I would prefer to be dysfunctional.

  • Platypus||

    Funny thing is this:
    This "occupation" occurred at Woodrfuff Park, here in the very heart of Atlanta, which meant they were largely ignored by just about everyone.

  • GILMORE||

    Ray, who works for a health food and supplement company...

    ..."naturally" has the physical build of a cancer patient, and who probably thinks the reasons things like 'health foods' and supplements don't get more attention as panaceas is because of some conspiracy by drug companies or something.

    . “I watch that video and I see: This is the process working, this is the process working. Then I see where the process got rushed – where we might have had two more rounds of discussion.”

    Most Utopian socialist societies are just a few rounds of discussions away.... but dammit, the purges and gulags always get in the way of that last darn committee meeting.

  • sevo||

    Ray, who works for a health food and supplement company...

    ..."naturally" has the physical build of a cancer patient, and who probably thinks the reasons things like 'health foods' and supplements don't get more attention as panaceas is because of some conspiracy by drug companies or something."

    And in all likelihood has tats and gripes about "CHEMICALS!"

  • ||

    I can respect consensus building, but the consensus should be on what exactly will be the decision making process, while meeting participants are still in a veil of ignorance. Ideally an agreement should reflect the willingness of the participants to defer to the groups decision after a certain number of votes are reached. If these people agreed that 3/4 of the assembly needs to vote to suspend the agenda before John Lewis arrived that he would have been excluded because some d-bags couldn't make their minds?

  • ||

    I can respect consensus building, but the consensus should be on what exactly will be the decision making process, while meeting participants are still in a veil of ignorance. Ideally an agreement should reflect the willingness of the participants to defer to the groups decision after a certain number of votes are reached. If these people agreed that 3/4 of the assembly needs to vote to suspend the agenda before John Lewis arrived that he would have been excluded because some d-bags couldn't make their minds?

  • ||

    Dennis, the anarcho-syndicalist, filth-gathering peasant has something to say about consensus:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v....._embedded#!
    Thanks Monty Python

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    One of my personal favorites. If only a watery tart would lob a scimitar at me.

  • ||

    This gathering has about the summer camp/5th grade-career-day type atmosphere that makes all true individualists pine to throw their individualism away as they run away and join the "mic-check" utopian collective.

    Comrade Ray can be the medicine man, and properly ration our monthly zinc allotments.

    Sign me up!

  • ||

    Facilitation committee meetings? Process committee? Process training?

    I see they've already been co-opted by the corporate mindset. Can't let productive results get in the way of the process.

  • Sailor||

    They'll be drinking the kool-aid soon right?

  • YHWH||

    Lewis could have said his piece and left in less time it took these dolts to decide whether or not to let him speak. I got bored at around 5 minutes and shut it down.

    But then again, Lewis is one of the guys who came up with an 80,000 page federal register that, if following the constitution, should probably be around 2 paragraphs, so I guess you reap what you sow.

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