On Protesting


On Protesting

No Voice is Too Small

Something that many people seem to think is that for a protest to be effective you need to have a lot of people; while that's a given that larger numbers creates a larger stirring of the proverbial pot, you can accomplish plenty when you have the right influence.

For example, when bus drivers went on strike in vermont they were only a few individuals, but their affect was massive. Or when students at Pomona College struck out about divesting from fossil fuels. The club organizing the protests was rather small, but they still organized and had a large impact on the college.

So while some groups within the #RealNetNeutrality campaign may be small, they're part of an international campaign. And it is this solidarity that is a driving force that will (I hope) have an impact on the FCC's direction on their Net Neutrality rulings.

For anyone who doesn't know what Net Neutrality is, John Oliver sums up things in a hilarious way, and focuses on what the affect of the rulings would be. It's worth a watch, and I imagine you'll be in stiches by the end of it and also, hopefully, scared.

A successful protest inspires change

Because that is what a protest is really an attempt to do. A protest is an attempt to bring about a change, it's an attempt, as it were to, Win Hearts And Minds. This can be through an appeal to someone's moral values or good nature, but really, fear is a better motivater. A protest says: "If you don't do something now, about this issue I'm showing you, there will be consequences that will affect you".

There are nonviolent protests, or simple protests of people sitting down. But even when these happen, if you talk to the protester's you're likely going to hear about whatever is causing them to protest, and the intent is to inform you, and hopefully get you to protest as well because you believe in the message. And because you are afraid of what will happen if you don't. Nonviolent protests typically don't gain a lot of news coverage since watching someone sit somewhere for a long time isn't particularly interesting to most.

Importance of a Goal

From what I can tell, most protests are around a single core issue. This seems wise. While they're many many issues in the world, trying to address all of them at once is a naive and foolhardy approach. However when there is a single, simple demand, it is much easier to fight back against a system.

For example, Women's Suffrage took over nearly a century, but it was a nonviolent protest, using hunger strikes and picketing as one of its many methods of inspiring change. In India, Mahatma Gandhi rejected British taxes and products and became renown around the world. During World War II The White Rose distributed leaflet's protesting the German Nationalist Party's control of the government.

Each of these movements had one simple goal. Voting rights, a stance against imperialism, and a call to action against tyrany. All of these happened in the last century.

Recently, I took part in a small protest within my own town for Net Neutrality. It was small, but still part of the international event and will hopefully bare fruit soon. After speaking to a few people, most feel that protests don't change much. And I think that that attitude comes from their view on American Society. Primarily, that the news media often doesn't report on peaceful protests or other events that don't generate a lot of buzz.

It's a shame.

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