Saturday, August 27, 2016

Is inconveniencing others a method for successful protest?

"So remember, the next time a demonstration stops your evening commute or gets loud outside of your office window, protesters are not hoping to raise your awareness or tug at your heartstrings. They are teaching you of the deep political importance of being inconvenienced, and helping you to get used to it."

The author kind of meanders a bit, but the main point is that inconveniencing others is a great method for forwarding your Just and Important Cause.  She gives examples of the current pipeline standoff in North Dakota, where Native Americans are trying to block an oil pipeline to protect their water, and the takeover of a lot next to the notorious Homan Square police station in Chicago.  These I would actually agree with, since they are directly confronting the group that is their concern.

But I strongly take issue with using this tactic to, say, shut down a major street corner in some city, where the geographic location and the people thus inconvenienced have nothing to do with what you are protesting.  Wise protesting is very much tied up with not only your message, but in how you conduct yourselves and what you are doing.  Your message is MUCH more clear when you are protesting at a location that points to your object of concern, when you are doing something that relates to your concern, and when you act in a way that shows you are respectful of your audience (that being everybody that you want to sway to your side).  I fail to see how inconveniencing mere bystanders (and probably not even bystanders - simple ordinary people with NO connection to your cause) will bring anybody to your side, or make them want to listen to what you are complaining about.

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