Now THIS is just fucking stupid

Thanks, SPOOFE, you said it better than I can right now.

I mean no disrespect to peaceful protestors, such as those on my university’s campus. The examples given here, however, are idiotic and make the protestors look like attention whores.

Protesting is an effective means of expressing dissent. On a small scale, what a ordinary protest can do is legitimize a position (vomit protests aside). It usually shows that the position advocted is not a nutty one, and can not be dismissed out of hand.

Other protests, particularly dramatic and large ones (banner hangs, street theater, die ins etc.) can bring attention to a topic which would otherwise be ignored. This may be a seperate goal from makign the position more legitimate.

Large protests can also have the effect of encouraging representatives to change their minds on issues, if for no other reason that they want to keep their jobs.

Peronsally, I’m not sure a vomit protest is an effective way of communicating, nor does it appear to achieve any of the above goals. It is an interesting idea, however, and I support their right to try.

I too was at the WTO protest. I spent 56 hours that week shooting video as a (volunteer) legal observer with the National Lawyers Guild (no I’m not a lawyer). If one makes the distinction between violence against people and destruction of property, there is no question that the police were several orders of magnitude more violent.

There were people who destroyed property, no question. But a few broken windows, or even lighting a dumpster (safely away from buildings) on fire, is just that-property damage. No worse than when someone broke into my car. Annoying, frustrating, but relativly minor.

During those five days (Nov.29-Dec.3, 1999), I witnessed exactly two instances of a protestor attacking another person. They were (i) A man kicking down a niketown sign was hit with an egg from the crowd and (ii) A protestor punching and grabbing a flag from another protestor who was attempting to burn it (the flag remained intact, and cooler heads prevailed).

Police violence, on the other hand, was out of control. Asking a police officer for his/her name could get you pepper sprayed, even if you were alone on a deserted street. In three instances I saw, police used a car to disperse a crowd, including one on a sidewalk. Tear gas and low yield grenades (“flash bangs”) were used without warning, on protestors outside of the “no protest zone” (a questionable constitutional proposition to begin with).

One particularly stark example was captured by a newscamera: John Vanderwalker, a Sheriff Deputy, stops a car downtown and observes they have protest signs. He signals the driver to roll down her window, and with no word, pepper sprays her and her passenger. He was also captured on video kicking a medic. He is still with the Sheriff dept…

Police did not go after people who broke windows or desrtoyed property. Lori Wallach, a lawyer with Public Citizen (who helped orgainize the protest), gave the following account of an incident during the WTO:

Having been to many protests, I have rarely seen one where the protestors were better educated about the subject of their protest. An avarage person on the street, at least in my experience, could not only tell you in braod terms what they didn’t approve of in the WTO, they could cite WTO decisions to back it up. Even if one disagrees, they were still pretty sharp.

The weekend prior to the WTO there was a teach-in sponsored by the international forum on globalization. Imagine a trade policy lecture, going 12 hours a day with no breaks, and having thousands of people packing the theater the entire time. It was simply amazing.

I belive most anti-war demonstrators suggest we should have let inspections continue, and not invaded. The US should obeyed the UN charter, and not attacked without security council resolution.

Hans Blix, the lead weapons inspector, indicated that he thought three months was not enough time, and progress was being made. It is not unreasonable, therefore, that some protestors might agree. It is at least an option worth discussing.

Blocking freeways is a calculated move, and not one which is always agreed with in the broader anti-war community. Such tactics tend to come from a feeling of media marginalization. Several weeks of organizing, and several thousand people turn out, and it is not unusual to see only a sentence or two of coverage. That is reason, whether or not it is effective is another question.

Perhaps AchimbaProphet and others will forgive me for ranting a bit as well.

—We should all take the position that we won’t listen to peaceful protest.—

Get a clue. This is not an issue of whether or not we listen. People do listen: and in fact, this sort of attitude is half of what’s wrong. Protestors seem to imagine that people who disagree with them are just uninformed, and all they need is to be sat down for a teach-in or shouted at. All they need to do is get their message out. But that’s ridiculous: almost everyone has heard their message already, or thought of it. Gaining support has to be much more intelligently planned out: it’s a real business in this day of powerful and influential media spin. Protesting is lamely amatuer in this world.

If you want to make a change, DO something. Raise money. Gather data. Actually work to get yourself and others who agree with you in positions of power.

—Forgive me for thinking that this sort of dismissal and contempt of protest may just be what prompts others to start thinking about blowing things and people up.—

Forgive me for thinking that protest of this nature is pointless. It’s like trying to re-attach a severed arm by dancing a jig: the method has little or no relevance to the goal.

Well put.

Bullshit. No, you’re not forgiven, because that’s exactly the kind of simple-minded all-or-nothing thinking that renders protests impotent in the first place. And also: shut up.

Many of us were cursed with too much intelligence to be able to reduce our opinions to platitudes and bumper-sticker slogans. I’m more than willing to listen to someone who has a reasoned and intelligent opinion. If somebody has nothing more intelligent to say than “war makes me sick!” or make some dumb-ass crack about Bush, then that’s just as stupid a waste of my time as “Support America or shut the hell up!” It does a disservice to every one of us who’s opposed to the war but yet isn’t an idiot – it makes it as easy for people to lump as all together as simple-minded tree-hugging liberals who are Against Our Troops, as it is for me to lump all the “America: Love It or Leave It” demonstrators as undereducated Fox News-watching rednecks.

And finally, with your last little comment above, you’re saying that terrorist acts are justified because it’s the only way to shake people out of their apathy. “If we won’t listen to people throwing up in public, of all things, then the only thing left to do is blow up buildings and kill people!” Fuck you. There’s no defending that mentality. Democratic societies guarantee citizens the right to speak their opinions, they do not guarantee that their every wish will be granted.

One of the quotes from the article linked to above:

Twat. Just like this moron has the freedom to voice his protest, other people have the freedom to ignore him if they desire. We don’t need a bunch of arrogant twats like this one fucking up things at home just because they feel they deserve to be heard at any cost.

This is the same kind of attitude that says destruction of property is necessary to get people’s attention. Apparently, their right to free speech is more important than everyone else’s right to live their lives as they want, free of the fear that their property is going to be stolen or destroyed. “It’s just an inconvenience.” Asshole.

**Spit, ** I like you. I really, really like you, and you know this. But please Goddess tell me you were kidding here.

The protestor here is dead. What has he accomplished? Nothing. Not a damn thing, except is own death, and a paragraph in a newspaper, where his name wasn’t even given.

He didn’t die in the line of fire. He took his own life. He took his own life while voicing his dissent in a country that *wasn’t going to harm him for his dissent. *

Even in dissent, there is such a thing as going too far. I respect the protestors, but I cannot respect blatant stupidity.

SolGrundy, I don’t know where you get the idea that I said or think “that terrorist acts are justified because it’s the only way to shake people out of their apathy”. Idiot.

Same with “This is the same kind of attitude that says destruction of property is necessary to get people’s attention.” Fucking idiot.

Then what did you mean?

Simply that peaceful protest should be tolerated, along with peaceful but silly protest, like the one the OP referred to, and peaceful but annoying protests like ones that hold up traffic.

The alternatives are worse, often much worse.

How is SolGrundy’s* paraphrasal of your statement incorrect?

*I do not intend to speak for you, Sol; I’m just attributing the quote to which Desmo objects.

It’s not the paraphrase that I object to, it’s the implication that I advocate the exact opposite of what I do advocate.

How many rolleyes do you need with that?

When you consider that this war occasioned what is probably the largest worldwide mass protest in history (just the sum of the figures for 40 of the most prominent protests on February 15 gives 9.5 million people, I wouldn’t be surprised to find our quota of idiots and losers. Irritated, but not surprised.

Furthermore, I think that the scale of these protests is so disproportionate to anything we saw before that I think it’s simplistic to attribute it to a generalized aversion to war. There’s something specific about this war that’s bringing people out that hasn’t been there, or at least as widely felt, in previous wars.

Forget the rolleyes. Do you or do you not think that it’s reasonable to “think about blowing things and people up”?

For fuck sake.

No, I don’t think it’s reasonable to “think about blowing things and people up”.

But anyone that doesn’t have their head up their ass realises that there are some pretty fucking unreasonable people in the world.

How many more times do you want to misread what I’m posting?

You’ve finally made yourself clear. Thank you and carry on.

I think that Demo’s post was vaguely worded, and I also think that I overreacted.

By way of explanation, there was an awful lot of talk after 9/11, even from people I’d previously thought “reasonable,” along the lines of “Isn’t it clear why these people hate us?” Implying that the attack was somehow justified. I read that sentiment into Demo’s post, when it apparently wasn’t there.