Aaron Sorkin: #FreeTheArctic30

Protest Outside The Russian Embassy, MexicoPlease don’t read any fur­ther until you’ve signed the demand to Rus­sia to free my jailed friends, or tak­en some action, any action, of your own inven­tion to fur­ther their cause. THEYRE FREE!!!!!


Aaron Sork­in, I have your next move. You’ve done pol­i­tics in West Wing — show­ing us what politi­cians ought to be as a hope­ful glow and glim­mer beneath the dull and fine­ly observed cloth­ing of what they real­ly are.

You’ve done jour­nal­ism. You’ve shown us the hon­or and integri­ty of the peo­ple who work in The News­room and held it up, in every one of those per­fect­ly penned solil­o­quies by Will McAvoy, as some­thing all of us can aspire to.

It’s time you tack­led activism. Yes, I saw that frus­trat­ed cheap shot you took at Occu­py. But I saw it as tough love. I saw it as the same cocked eye­brow I throw at my own cause, and the organ­i­sa­tion I work for, on any given day when idio­cy or com­pla­cen­cy saps your strength and feeds the teleprompter of your inner voice with sound­bites from your worst crit­ics. But you know as well as I do that’s not what’s real. That’s not what’s at the core. What Occu­py or Avaaz or Anony­mous or 350 or Amnesty at their best have been, and what I saw today from my desk at Green­peace, is a mag­ic I know you can cap­ture: bruised, unbur­nished, and with that ever cyn­i­cal eye that says this isn’t easy stuff, but which res­onates at its core with the music of truth. It’s the sto­ry of ordi­nary peo­ple doing extra­or­di­nary things for caus­es they believe in so deeply that they will go to incred­i­ble extremes, risk impos­si­ble odds, and keep on believ­ing — some­times again­st all evi­dence — that they can change the world.

If the West Wing made me regret not pur­su­ing that Wash­ing­ton intern­ship and The News­room made me pine for my days at Georgetown’s stu­dent news­pa­per, today I was in an Aaron Sork­in script, work­ing an envi­able job among incred­i­ble, amaz­ing, over­caf­feinat­ed and sleep-deprived peo­ple in a place unlike any oth­er. Come hang out with us for a while, and your next series will write itself.

Come tell the sto­ries of our activists jailed in Rus­sia, fac­ing 2 months in a mis­er­able jail cell for hav­ing the courage to chal­lenge Big Oil’s insane march into the Arc­tic. Cast some fer­al tal­ent as Iain the Engi­neer, pac­ing back and forth in his wit­ness cage telling the judge “this is bull­shit. You’ve com­mit­ted an act of pira­cy, we were not invit­ed, they know that’s a lie, it was an act of war you stu­pid peo­ple.” Flash­back to their On Board Cam­paign Train­ing and build a char­ac­ter sketch of Faiza, the fierce young wom­an who sea­sick­ness couldn’t stop, brief­ing her cam­paign team with a buck­et by her side, paus­ing to toss her cook­ies and then ask­ing if there were any ques­tions. Fig­ure out how tele­vi­sion can con­vey what it feels like to be Sini and get hit by the cold blast of a water can­non as you shim­my up a safe­ty line swing­ing from an oil rig with numb fin­gers, when you hear shots fired from above. Take your cam­era on one of those long unin­ter­rupt­ed track­ing shots through the office while all this is hap­pen­ing in the Arc­tic. Attach your­self to the fast mov­ing media offi­cer who is try­ing out the sound­bite from his press release on the social media intern to see if it will play in Twit­ter­ville, fol­low her through the video suite where live footage is stream­ing in and the edi­tor is shout­ing down the phone that he needs the Eng­lish, not the Amer­i­can, translit­er­a­tion of those Rus­sian names if he’s expect­ed to cap­tion accord­ing to styleguide. Squeeze past the desk of an Argen­tini­an wom­an speak­ing Chi­ne­se on the phone and French across the cubi­cle while she takes notes in Eng­lish, then bump into and spin away from a lawyer who hasn’t slept in 3 days explain­ing to the coast guard on his cell phone that “seiz­ing a ves­sel out­side of ter­ri­to­ri­al waters is allowed under only two con­di­tions accord­ing to the Law of the Sea and tak­ing non-vio­lent action again­st oil in the Arc­tic is not, dammit, one of them.”

And Aaron, while you’re at it, you can make up for that cheap shot at Occu­py. You can do one of those setups where you show the pet­ty rival­ries and com­pe­ti­tions between organ­i­sa­tions that ought to be pulling togeth­er for their com­mon cause, how they can snipe at each oth­er and split hairs over dif­fer­ences of val­ues or tac­tics, then strip away that lay­er of ugli­ness and show what I saw today: the ral­ly­ing of diverse organ­i­sa­tions around the human sto­ry of 30 peo­ple fac­ing ter­ri­ble con­se­quences for try­ing to make a bet­ter world, and one by one rais­ing their voice in sol­i­dar­i­ty with them and their cause in a mighty wave that looks a lot, when it finds focus, like a move­ment: Green­peace, Occu­py, Avaaz, Amnesty, 350, Anony­mous: a con­tin­u­ous land­scape of unarmed resis­tance to The Way Things Are.

I’d watch that show. But for now, I get to live a part of it.

Please sup­port the peo­ple of #FreeT­heArc­tic30, who faced gun­fire and, as I write this, a cold Rus­sian jail cell far from the ones they love, to make their stand again­st the tyran­ny of Big Oil in the Arc­tic.

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