Here’s the deal. The world has a proud history of individuals and groups successfully protesting injustice. But not every protestor has a great game plan…
Take, for example, Mr. Chris Sevier. As a means of protesting gay marriage, this gentleman petitioned for the right to marry his computer. He claimed that he should have the equal right to marry his “preferred sexual object.” Wow. Trying to marry a computer to protest gay marriage, that’s like…trying to marry a computer to protest gay marriage. Yes, it’s so absurd that the action itself is the best example of its own absurdity.
This would be like protesting the death penalty by stomping on Twinkies. It’s just difficult to make a logical comparison between an action involving a person and an action involving an inanimate object. But I’m sure you and your laptop will have many happy months, until it’s rendered obsolete.
If you want your protest to be taken seriously, it really needs to make sense. In Sweden, the Feminist Initiative decided to protest the discrepancy in pay between men and women. They calculated that women made 100,000 kronor ($13,000) less than men every minute across the country. An important issue? Sure. But how did they protest this gap in wages? By burning 100,000 kronor. Hmmmm, what exactly is this message? Pay us more money or we’ll keep lighting fire to money? You’re destroying that which you’re asking for. How do we know that if their wages aren’t increased, they won’t just build another cash bonfire?
And, while we’re on the subject of taking the time to have a clear message, let’s talk about signage. The Tea Party, for example, is notorious for being able to almost spell a lot of words. Come on now people, most of these signs have fewer than a dozen words on them – would it kill you to take five minutes to double check? If you’re trying to make an informed comment on politicians, the constitution, and issues of the day it never hurts to be able to spell “politicians,” “constitution,” and “day.”
You see, protesting used to be about something, nowadays people just like to make noise. Have you heard of rolling coal? For reasons that aren’t exactly clear, people with big trucks are spending lots of money to outfit their vehicles so that they emit giant plumes of black smoke. Apparently, this is somehow a protest against environmentalists. But the online videos that show these people blasting pedestrians with clouds of toxic smoke raise some doubt as to the thought they put into their “protests.” Guess what, most people don’t want to look like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, and shoving your exhaust down everyone else’s throat only proves one thing…you’re just not very nice.
Of course, no one is better at being just not very nice than the Westboro Baptist Church. Their bread and butter is protesting homosexuals, but, because they know God’s opinion on everything, they are ever expanding. They’ve protested Jews, Catholics, Harry Potter, Lady Gaga, the Kansas City Chiefs, HBO, iPhones, Swedish vacuum cleaners, and probably just about anything else you can imagine. On the positive side, they did tweet that God loves bagels. So…there’s that. Yes, the church’s twitter page (with the exception of church members, they only follow Fox News and Sarah Palin…how’s that for a horrific endorsement?) is one long string of hate. The only thing they do without discrimination is protest. If there’s something out there (other than bagels), they’ll find a reason to condemn it.
And maybe that’s the biggest problem. People used to protest because they believed in something. Now it seems that most people aren’t protesting for a change – they’re protesting against one. They’re not offering a way to make the world a better place, they’re just blasting away at all the things that don’t fit into their world view. Having a sign is fine. Having an idea is better.