A video has surfaced from this weekend’s somewhat ludicrous “Occupy Wall Street” protests. The protests themselves have been barely newsworthy. Hippies and kids mostly — the North Koreans have better organization when preparing a dance routine.
But one kid, one kid who is currently a student at George Washington University Law School, set the protest on fire with his plaintive, whiny, pathetic rantings, as he literally begged to be arrested.
You’re going to want to see this video. It’s a great example of how NOT to use your legal training to bring about meaningful change….
First, let’s set the scene. During the protests, Robert Stephens of GW Law School decided that it was time for him to make his stand against Wall Street. In Stephens’s mind, getting himself arrested was the best way to get back at “the banks” for “taking” his parents’ house.
From there, we are blessed to have video:
I never knew quoting your and your parents’ résumés was a good way to get arrested in this country.
I’m just not sure that I have much to add here. Obviously, the conservative press is all over this guy. From The Blaze:
Robert Stephens graduated from Carleton College (average cost: $42,942/year) in 2010 and now studies law at The George Washington University Law School (average cost: $70,449/year). His father has a Ph.D. and two master’s degrees; his mother also has a master’s degree. Only in America could a kid have been blessed with so much… and only in America could he still claim to be a victim. America’s capitalist society has apparently leveled a grave injustice against his family and Robert will not stand for it.
Now, I’m a man who is open to the possibility of one being a “victim” of capitalist excess notwithstanding blessings and opportunities — but Stephens here leaves too much unsaid. How, exactly, did his smart and educated parents lose their house? Was it a “predatory mortgage,” or poor financial planning? Or some combination of both?
Or, and I’m just spitballing here, isn’t it at least possible that his parents lost their house trying to help young Robert pay for college and law school and save him from the ruinous financial decisions he was making? I had the good sense not to ask my parents for extra help to put me through law school — so at the very least, all of my terrible financial choices are mine to bear. But I know that lots of kids got help from their families during law school. Was Robert maybe putting his family at extra financial risk in the pursuit of another shiny degree, instead of maybe putting himself through law school (through debt or work), as so many do?
Or maybe Robert Stephens — “with a P-H!” — was just totally full of it?
Phone inquiries into the county property records & taxpayer services office reveal that the Stephens family home is not and never has been in foreclosure, that property taxes had been paid in full this year and the remaining balance on their mortgage for the half-million dollar home is less than one year’s worth of tuition+fees at their son’s law school.
The nail in this empty protest‘s coffin is a delightful phone conversation I just had with Robert’s mother, Marquita, where she admitted Chase Bank indeed was not “taking” their home from them. Instead, due to a recent “reduction in income,” they’ve decided to hold a “short sale.”
Boom, roasted by your own mother. Your own, well-educated mother, who was clearly more financially savvy than you’d like to give her credit for.
Not that I don’t at least slightly admire Stephens’s passion. We need passionate people like Robert Stephens — with a “P-H!” — to take on “the corporations” and stand up for master’s degree candidates everywhere. It’s better if these people tell the truth, but ya know, passion is good.
It’s just that we need these passionate people in school, actually learning how these financial instruments work. We need them in lobbying firms, making sure the advocacy for the people isn’t drowned out by the advocacy for the corporations. We need them in Congress, proposing smart legislation to regulate some of the smartest businesspeople in the room.
We do not need them screaming in the streets like a guy riding a mule looking for his 40 acres. This helps no one. This educates no one. This advances the argument in no way.
There is a place for screaming and shouting and causing a general ruckus. It’s called the internet. When you are out in the street, try to comport yourself like a man. I’m sure that this kid’s parents would gladly lose their house — for real — to get back their son’s dignity.