Both Sides of the Issue


brennan_icon.gif cat_icon.gif lydia_icon.gif maddie_icon.gif monica_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Both Sides of the Issue
Synopsis … make their opinions of the new law known at a peaceful protest in front of the Department of Evolved Affairs Building.
Date July 28, 2010

Brooklyn DoEA Building

Afternoons in New York in late July are hot, humid and sticky, as a rule, and though weather rules have been not only broken but shattered earlier in 2010, today is statistically "normal." The picketers and protesters at Number 26, Federal Plaza, would probably appreciate a little unseasonal chill, as long as the chill came in the form of a cool breeze rather than a polar-arctic blizzard.

It is a peaceful assembly, the Constitutional right to gather and protest laws found to be unjust and unfair, a concept the country was founded on. Circling the building with hand-made signs, those opposed to the upcoming deadline shout out, "Resign! We won't sign!" in a rhythmic unison (register is a tricky word to rhyme). Most of the picketers fall between teenage and fortyish, but there is always an exception to the rule. One woman wearing a pink and purple floral mumu and sparkly silver jelly sandals must be pushing 70. Her sign reads, "Invasion of privacy — what's next, our right to vote?"

On the other side, not circling the building but surrounding the picketers, are the pro-Registry factions, held back behind an invisible line by a bored-looking police force, called to keep things in line. So far it's peaceful, but the slurs being yelled are less so: "If you're not a freak, what do you got to be afraid of?" asks one man with a mullet, his neck stereotypically sunburnt.

It's probably not too smart, but Monica is out there herself, standing with the older woman as they make their stand on this particular issue. She doesn't have a sign herself, but she's carrying a pack full off chilled water bottles that she seems to be passing around as needed. It's likely she just happened by and saw the protest going down and just didn't have time to make a sign. But she helps out as she can!

Other people just walk by and seem to linger. Lydia is one such person. Dark eyes narrow as she takes in the scene. Her lips press together as she takes a step back, forcing herself to look away from the scene. All of this conflict makes her reminiscent, longing for something else altogether. Her periwinkle dress leaves her arms bare. Tightly, she hugs her arms to her body while goosebumps form along her arms; there's something very not-right about all of this. Her sandy-coloured hair is pulled back into a tight ponytail, away from her face.

Sucking in a breath, her body relaxes slightly, but the goosebumps remain. In a world where no one is allowed privacy and no one can endure trust, what can be left? Shifting her weight from one foot to the other, she contemplates turning back from whence she came, but something about the scene obliges her to linger.

Rolling to a halt a little way along the street, a lycra-clad woman puts down one foot to keep her balance without stepping off her bicycle, and slightly adjusts her wrap-around shades. Frowning a touch, Ygraine eyes both sides of the gathering… then leans down to unclip a water-bottle from her bike's frame and take a long drink. Now is definitely as good a time as any to take a break from her ride, it seems.

She's not involved in the actual protest, standing clear of both the anti- and pro-registration groups. Cat's purpose here is to observe without calling attention upon herself, as best she can. She is visible and out in the open, memorable as a woman accused during Jennifer Chesterfield's failed Mayoral campaign of having been in Pariah at the same time the candidate herself was linked to Pinehearst.

The panmnesiac is counting heads and scanning faces to record them all in memory on both sides of the issue, to gauge evidence of her theory that general population registry will make the mainstream oppose the law and tear it all down. She's also scanning for the presence of persons associated with Humanis First.

There's a friend in the building, someone he's supposed to have lunch with. The crowd of picketer's though, make it a little hard to actually catch up with his friend. Brennan stands at the back, eyeballs where best to press forward, words on the tip of his tongue about how many it might just be better to register and help work at fixing a broken law.

But sometimes, people don't like to be told that.

A periwinkle van, beat up and in need of a tune up passes behind the physician and forges forward into the crowd. "Pardon, need to get through, excuse me" There's a sign to the face when someone turns to look at who's coming through then goes back to protesting. "Shit" That stung. "Pardon me ma'am"

"It's so nice to see the young folk out here doing their civic duty. Do you know, young lady, that I helped with the bus boycott back? Rosa Parks, she was a treasure. I never met her mind you, but I did my duty, by God, and I will now, too," the floral-clad elderly woman says, a Southern accent giving some credence to her words. "Are you registered? I hope not. I am not evolved, but I sure as hell ain't gonna register. I'll pay the fines. Civil disobedience, yes, ma'am, that's how they'll learn. If everyone just ignored this stupid new law, where would they be? They can't arrest all of us!"

Some of the others near Monica and Granny turns and agree. "They can't arrest us all!" one young man begins to chant and others pick it up.

"They sure as hell can try!" says the redneck across the way, to a murmur of laughter from those nearest.

Maddie Hart, blond curls pinned up in a loose bun, moves among the crowd, taking Man on the Street quotes as her aqua eyes dart about, keeping an eye out for trouble or anything newsworthy — sometimes one and the same. She moves toward Ygraine. "Ma'am? What do you think of all this? You don't seem to be on one side or the other just yet, though probably you do have an opinion. Do you work here?" the reporter asks, her Aussie accent coloring her words as she nods to the building, the Department of Evolved Affairs.

"I didn't know that, but you must be proud to have been a part of that," Monica says with real admiration in her voice. "I'm not registered, and I don't plan on it, either. The only way to change an unjust law is to challenge it. So that's what I plan on doing," she explains, her own accent showing through those words, too.

Civil disobedience. A smile edges Lydia's lips as she listens to the elderly woman, but again, she almost frozen in spot; unsure. The redneck, however, draws her attention moments later, head snapping in his direction. While most of the time she manages that quiet neutral exterior for a brief moment her features find a scowl that disappears as quickly as it came.

Quietly, near silently she steps forward now, still not entirely convinced this is her best course of action. But she lingers in the middle, not on one side or the other as of yet.

Ygraine runs her gaze over Maddie's press badge, before chuckling dryly and nudging the shades up atop her head to remove the blank anonymity of the lenses. "I'm British, I'm afraid", she replies, tone somewhat apologetic though a smile curls her lips. "At the moment, this doesn't directly affect my personal rights. But… I honestly hope that it's rejected by the people. Some years ago, I signed up for the NO2ID campaign in the UK - opposing mandatory identity cards and biometric records for everyone in the population. Those plans got thrown out by the new government brought in at the General Election this year."

She glances away towards the rival bodies of protestors, then refocuses upon Maddie. "The electorate here chose a president who favoured cooperation and tolerance. Whatever his flaws, the basic preferences of the majority of voters were clear. I'm hoping that those people will remember what they voted for, that the politicians will remember what was voted for, and that these measures will be rejected. Freedom is far harder to reclaim than it is to give away. And it's always most appreciated once it's been lost."

Her head moves back and forth, eyes tracking the numbers present in both viewpoint camps and maintaining awareness of her surroundings. 98, 99, 101… The turnout for each is perceived to be approximately equal. Maddie speaking with Ygraine over there is spotted, still Cat doesn't act to call focus on herself or interrupt their conversation, though she is in clear sight. Brennan is spotted but not given much attention.

What does catch her eye and hold attention is the woman who speaks with the elderly sign carrier.

Cat isn't spotted, he's not here to take a tally and not here to protest. Ygraine's comments about being a foreign national and the registration not affecting her directly garner a shake of his head. "Give it time Miss. If you're here on a work visa or a green card, you can be assured that something will likely be placed into effect. I personally think this is a far better fix to a flawed system that is still in need of even more repair. One fix of hopefully many more to come or eventually, the dispertion of the need for such a law like the Linderman Act"

The question of registration for foreigners raised, Maddie furrows her brows — she hates when a question comes up that she didn't think to ask when she had the source in front of her. Something to check with Praeger's office about, for sure. "I see. I'm a dual citizen myself, so that means I have to make an appointment, myself," she tells the Brit with a smile. "Can I get your name and age, city of residence? By the way, I'm Madeleine Hart, New York Times. I suppose I should have said that, shouldn't I have." There is a flash of a smile, and she turns to Brennan, her pen flying quickly across the notepad. "And you, too, sir? Can I have that on the record?"

The woman in the floral mumu laughs merrily, linking her arm with Monica's as the crowd takes up her chat. She points a finger at Cat as they come full circle to the front of the building. "That one knows you? Bring her on over here!" she says, waving at Cat, then grinning at Lydia as they pass by. "There are some extra signs, dearie, right over on the grass there, if you wanna join in. The more the merrier."

Meanwhile, a solemn-faced man, watching on the other side, shakes his head. "Registration is to keep everyone equal. If the Evolved have to register, we should, too. It's only fair, and there's nothing to be afraid of!" he calls out. "It was wrong before. Now it's fair. It's not about privacy, it's about equality!" Those nearby start chanting that, and the two mottos become a wordless rumble of noise as they collide.

Monica follows the woman's finger to Cat, which makes her straighten a little before she looks back to the woman. "They all have to make a choice for themselves, yeah? When they're ready to step to one side or another, they'll step."

A glance is given to the signs and then one back to the elderly woman before Lydia manages a tight-lipped smile she opens her mouth to object, but closes it moments later as she hears the quip about equality. The smile fades as she turns in his general direction, "It was always wrong. And it can't be made right like this. Not like this. Equality and peace don't come about just through law…" Her lips twitch with some unuttered emotion before she's, once again shooting the elderly woman that same tight-lipped smile. Slowly, carefully, she bends down and retrieves one of the signs before physically choosing a side.

"I read your badge", the Briton says with a smile to Maddie. "And… Ygraine. I live in New York", she adds quietly, not wanting to talk over Brennan. She does, however, offer him an amiable shrug. "I'd personally prefer not to see the Linderman Act in place at all. For a government to judge people on the basis of genetic expression is a very dangerous road to go down - but this probably isn't the place to have a debate on biosociology or the nature of citizenship."

With the persons on both sides of the issue not seeming to grow in number and chants starting up from one side, Cat's observation from this vantage point seems concluded. Evidence of this is seen in her moving away from that spot and toward the anti-registration camp. Toward where Monica is with the elderly woman, but she doesn't actually approach. Instead she takes a spot a few yards away where she can be seen, leaving Saint Joan the choice of whether or not to move closer.

"Doctor Harve Brennan, i can give you the other pertinent details in private" He offers to Maddie, a glance to Ygraine with a shrug of his shoulders.

"A dangerous road it may be, but it is one that the government has chosen to go down and while compliance with a mandatory act may be distasteful to some given it's genetic implications, one can see what protesting the law has managed to do. With this new evolution of the Linderman Act it become no more worse than putting skin color on a drivers licence which is already done, and requiring you to carry an additional piece of identification and producing it when requested. Something that in the state of California is already down with Resident Registration cards"

"It's across the board, every citizen must register." There's a gesture to the others who are around bearing signs. "I have registered already, given my evolved nature as will my family in compliance and I will continue to work to change the law, till some day it is only voluntary. I encourage the rest of the citizens and those who are guests of the country to do the same. Peacefully demonstrate the law and work with your local lawmakers to lobby further changes"

Maddie's pen scurries across the page to keep up with Brennan, flashing him a bright smile. "Doctor Brennan, how nice to meet you in person. There's no need to give me further details; of course I know who you are!" Maddie bubbles, perhaps just a touch of fan-girl enthusiasm for the handsome doctor. "Thank you both. I should go get the other side of the street or else they'll whine about the liberal media. You know how it is." She gives a nod to both and crosses to the other side, flashing a smile at Lydia as the woman picks up one of the home made signs — "Registry or Fascism?" The blond reporter moves to the man talking about equality, to get his words down, along with name and neighborhood.

"That all sounds well and good and nice and all, but it's easier to keep a law from passing than to change it once it's passed," the mumu lady says, with a nod toward Brennan. "No one is going to burn a cross on your lawn for having blue eyes or being an organ donor. They might for being a mindreader or one of those pyromaniacs." Of course, she means pyrokinetics.

But, it's quitting time, it seems, for the main force of protestors, who begin to look at their watches. "I gotta go pick up River and Forrest from baseball," says the lead volunteer, a Boheiman-soccer mom hybrid. "Time to pack it up. Put the signs in the back of my truck!" As the anti-Registry sign starts to pack up, the other side begins to dissipate as well. It's nearly 3 p.m. and the heat is making most of them wilt, ready to find refuge in air conditioning.

Monica puts a hand on Lydia's back as she joins, sign and all. It's just a moment of gentle encouragement. The mimic does notice Cat joining, too, but apparently this is not the time for the two to chat, what with the protesting and the press and all.

But when things wind down, Monica turns to offer her hand to the older woman. "It was a pleasure talkin' with you, ma'am. I'll see you around the circuit again no doubt." And hey! No one attacked. It's a plus.

Monica is issued a tight-lipped smile as the hand is place on Lydia's shoulder. The small act of encouragement is appreciated as the former Carnie takes a stand for now, anyways.

The sign is quietly returned as things dissipate. And just as she'd come, she slips away, homeward bound.

Ygraine raises an eyebrow as Brennan identifies himself. She's no fangirl, but the name is familiar to her through the Ferry. She pauses to nod and smile to Maddie, before looking back to Brennan. "The British ID scheme was meant to be a matter of public safety, and something that no one honest should have any reason to oppose. The NO2ID campaign was based upon the idea of a million people each pledging a small sum to pay the legal costs of the first person to be charged with a failure to comply with the laws once they were made compulsory. If a law is unjust, challenge it in the courts…"

The voice carries a speculative tone, the words are spoken without Cat looking at anyone in particular. "Inconclusive," she judges, "but it's too early to tell if the general population will support universal registration or reject it as intrusive." She begins to wander away when the gathering disperses, neither approaching or seeming opposed to being approached.

"You're not in Britain Miss, you're in the united states and while here, you're expected to follow American laws. Encourage your acquaintences to do just that, challenge rulings in court, again, speak with your local government officials and make yourself heard. But maybe, you should also look to introduce that here. I'm sure there would be many people who support you in that. You get that up and running, I'll pledge a month's worth of my salary at the Suresh Center to the fund" Brennan offers, forefinger touching his temple in respect to Maddie. "Now if you pardon me, I have a meeting to attend with someone in the building. You have a good day"

With that, Brennan is pushing on through so he can go to his already delayed meeting.

Inside the building, the security cameras have been watched carefully to make sure that none of the protesters attack. Perhaps, some day, they will. But today, the crowd dissipates quietly, peacefully, a few barbs tossed back and forth between the two groups. All in all, a successful demonstration of the First Amendment of the US Constitution, and a rare occasion in New York: No casualties worse than a few blisters from holding the picket signs or ill-fitting shoes.

Marylou Watson of the silver jelly shoes will invest in a new pair of tennis shoes before the next protest, that much is sure.

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