Cairo by the Bay

You can slash their student loans and hand them a labor market with no jobs...but if you really want the angry youth of America to take to the streets, then just start messing with their cell phone service:

BART temporarily closed all four downtown San Francisco stations tonight - Civic Center, Powell, Montgomery and Embarcadero - after protesters gathered to express anger over the transit agency's decision to cut underground cellular phone service for three hours Thursday evening in an effort to quell a protest.

As of 6:30 p.m., the Civic Center, Montgomery and Embarcadero stations had reopened. At the Powell station, passengers could exit trains but not board them.

The closures began at 5:25 p.m., when protesters were kicked out of the Civic Center station, then began marching toward the other stations. That prompted BART to close them, one by one.

If you haven't been following this story, it began last week when in response to a planned protest of a shooting by a BART officer earlier this summer (the latest in a history of controversies involving the transit cops there), BART went all Mubarak and shut off all cell phone service within the transit stations

In my opinion, and in the view of many others, there's no difference between the Egyptian authorities shutting down the airwaves -- and thus free speech -- which provoked global condemnation this spring, and the undemocratic actions by authorities right here on U.S. soil. It doesn't matter whether you agree with one cause (overthrowing a dictattor) or disagree with another (protesting alleged police brutality); what BART did is the first greasy step down the slippery slope that could lead to wider assaults on social media -- as debated in Britain -- and against free speech in general.

And so I'm thrilled to see the people of the San Francisco Bay aren't letting this nonsense go unchallenged.