On Protesting and Other Things

This past week was one of protests and demonstrations. My first thought on protests is a selfish one: is it going to impact what I want to do? If not, sure, go ahead and knock yourself out. If yes, then I rather you didn’t.

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Personally, while I support the right of people to protest, I think they are not all that effective and offer as many pitfalls as benefits. Actually, more pitfalls than benefits. 

Before protesters start throwing Molotov cocktails in my direction, hear me out . . . 

. . . and understand that these are my own opinions, misguided as they may be. I have a right to them just as you, the reader, have the right to think me an idiot. 

So, here are the benefits I see:

  1. People see the protest on TV or the Internet and you get some screen time. 
  2. You raise awareness about whatever you are protesting.
  3. It makes you feel like you done something; you feel like a warrior.
  4. You meet people who think like you and they will validate and reinforce your views.

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Those are the benefits I can think of . . . and I had to push the meaning of benefit to add those in there. 

Before I go on, let me repeat; these are my thoughts on the matter and I do not claim to hold The Truth of Things

So, let me take each one of those in turn.

Screen time — it sounds nice, don’t it? National exposure, politicians knowing you are serious enough to get your ass out from in front of your TV, and the chance to introduce people to views they might not have considered.

Here is my cynical assessment: people watching a protest will fall into one of three categories; people who already know about the views you hold and agree with you, people who already know about the views you hold and don’t agree with you, and people who could care less either way. 

Let’s face it; we live in a plugged-in society. We get news through phones and tablets and computers that have a nearly constant presence in front of our face. People who care already know the arguments for at least one position on any given subject. If they don’t know the counterarguments it’s not because they haven’t been exposed to them; it’s because they don’t even want to consider them or they do not care. 

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Is it possible you are raising awareness? Yes, I suppose so, but see my previous paragraph. Your protest is not going to swing a large number of new people to your way of thinking.

But, damn, it sure feels good to yell out stuff and wave signs in the air, don’t it? And, holy crap on a cracker! You can’t spit without hitting someone who thinks like you. Your views surely must have the blessing of the universe itself! I mean, look at all them people around you with clever signs and yelling stuff that sounds a lot like what you are yelling. 

I bet I could make a killing selling extra arms so that people could pat themselves on the back and still hold up signs. 

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OK, I sound a tad derisive and perhaps come across as a bit of an asshole. Well, I can’t help who I am. I tend to be frank about my opinions, even though that’s not my name. 

Let’s again be clear . . . I’m expressing why I see no point to large public protests. Others are welcome to their opinion on the matter and I am perfectly willing to be schooled on the reasons why protests in the current times are a fine and necessary thing. Heck, that’s what the comments are for, right below this post. 

But, let me present the rest of my arguments before you rip me a new one.

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There are two major and a few minor reasons why I’m skeptical of the exposure angle. One, you are not really in control of the message. Do you know what headlines are the first that I see? Violence, clashes with police, arrests, destruction of property. 

Say I don’t have an opinion about something . . . ok, stay with me here; I know it’s a stretch of the imagination, but pretend for a moment I was busy eating and I know next to nothing about what’s going on. 

The moment I see store windows smashed in and cars overturned I will not give one bit of crap about your anger, your reasons for protesting, your message. My only thought will be that the protesters are jerks with no regards for others and hence I have no respect or consideration for them and what they want. 

I mean, that’s not exactly true . . . I might agree with the views of the protesters but I will be mad at them for ruining the image of people who hold those views.  

“But, but . . . that was only a small part of the protests! Most were peaceful! We sang shit and hugged and sang more shit, some of it even in tune and clever and stuff!” 

Yeah, but that’s not what makes the news. 

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“Yeah, but people are mad! They are passionate about what them summabirches are up to!”

Let me see; where have I heard a similar argument. Oh, yeah . . . Trump used that very excuse when some of his supporters got violent. 

We, the enlightened “nice” people, decried the barbarians for their language and behavior. Funny that, isn’t it? How things look different when it’s our own interests on the line. Some protesters hinted that they would be driven to violence against the White House. 

OK, that was a celebrity, and you know my feelings on celebrities; they have the right to open their mouths and provide ample proof that they are idiots who do not live in the same world we do and will never suffer the consequences of being idiots. 

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That’s my second huge reservation about joining protest groups . . . someone other than me will be speaking for me. I would be smeared with the idiot brush wielded by whatever mouthpiece makes it to the news cycle. Because, again, what’s going to get reported, the person who will make the news, will be the most outrageous and vociferous and “newsworthy” individual they can find. Remember, the news wants to sell ads and generate clicks and controversy sells. 

Remember, we are trying to inform and possibly change minds, but the minds of people we want to change do not listen to sources who will bother to express our views clearly, concisely, and fairly. The foxtards will show someone breaking something and yelling something and will sit there tsk-tsking the whole affair. No minds changed. If anything, quite the opposite.

Even if that’s not the case, it is unlikely organizers and people who present “the message” to the media will have and voice views that align with mine in anything other than general and vague points. We likely differ on many things, especially what to do about a given problem or concern. But that will not stop the spokespersons from voicing opinions as if speaking for everyone. 

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“OK, wiseass; what do you suggest we do? Sit at home and fume?”

Well, if you are blocking traffic where I am trying to drive, that is exactly what I would want you to do!

. . . and commit to writing letters to state and federal officials and departments. Not just once, but every month. Be insistent. Ask for their opinions, engage them in discussions. Post their answers in blogs, message boards, Facebook, etc. Write your local paper, get involved. 

Now, I know some of the demonstrators are committed. They both demonstrate and are involved, but the majority of demonstrators see the half a day of their time that they donate to the marches as absolving them from doing anything else. 

How do I know this? Because senators and representatives do not receive two million letters a month. Or two million calls a month. Or two million faxes a month. They might get e-mail campaigns approaching those numbers, but those are general “we are against this or that” and often require as much effort as hitting a couple of boxes on a form and carry as much weight. 

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Do you want my suggestions for how to make a difference? It’s work, and I no longer do this because I don’t have kids and because I am old and because I have no confidence in my fellow Americans to rub two ideas together to come up with a third. 

That’s right; other than in this here blog — and even here I tend to go in sporadic spurts —I’m checking out. The future for me is, if I’m lucky, between ten and twenty years. I don’t have time to deal with this crap. I got stories to write, photos to take, I’m homeless until we can decide where to live, and I want to spend my time enjoying life with my wife.  

When I want drama and concerns, they come find me without me having to go out looking for them, thank you very much. 

Do I sound angry? Do I sound bitter? You betcha!

Twenty years and five administrations of debating both the leftards and the rightards, or arguing that “the other side” is not as bad as they are made out to be, of trying to get reason and data into arguments, or battling entrenched ideologies, of watching people get more and more partisan and not give an inch of consideration to those they disagree with. 

“Oh, we lost the election! Woe is us! Let’s be even bigger dicks next time around because that seems to work!”

“Oh, we won the election! Yeah, baby! Let’s be dicks and not care about what the other half of the country wants!”

Regan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, and now . . . Trump. Those same two arguments flip-flopped back and forth between the two parties like clockwork. 

Guess what? I don’t really give a rat’s . . . 

. . . breathe, breathe . . . that’s it . . . sip of coffee, grab a snack . . . calm down . . . 

OK, where was I? Oh yeah . . . my suggestions.

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So, THIS site gives you suggestions on how to write your representative. They suggest faxing as the best way, but I suggest all four; fax, call, snail-mail, and e-mail.

Keep it short; no one is going to read a dissertation on why you are upset. Trust me on this; heck you likely stopped reading this ten minutes ago and I’m now talking to myself. 

Be on point, ask for a response to a direct question. If your 1,999,999 other buddies are also writing, you are not going to receive an answer, but believe me, them kind of numbers will have an effect. 

Set up a schedule, organize letter writing with your local group of merry demonstrators, and none of this crap about form letters. Use your own words to express your own concerns. If you can’t do that, then you have no business demonstrating to begin with; you’re just in it for the glory of carrying a sign around and hopefully appear on TV with a silly grin splashed on your face. 

Cycle your efforts write two letters a month, make two calls a month, send two faxes a month, write two e-mails a month, not all on the same day or week. 

Stick to one subject and pick your targets wisely. For that, you need to be up on both who is your representative and senator, but also be up on when committees are meeting, which committees are meeting when, and what it is they are considering. Here are some links that might help (there are others for them who care to know): 

https://www.govtrack.us/events/coming-up

https://www.senate.gov/committees/committees_home.htm

http://docs.house.gov/floor/

http://docs.house.gov/Committee/Committees.aspx

Write your representative and senator if they are on a committee, but if not, write both your representative and senator AND the head of the committee you want to influence. 

While you are at it, write the White House. You’ll get a form letter . . . unless you make threats; don’t do that. Ever. Be polite, concise, and on point. 

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“Disperser! You dumbass! We want other people to know we care about this or the other thing!”

Let me make a suggestion . . . you know them signs you like to carry around? Organize with the other 1,999,999 buddies of yours, and on a given day each month plant them in your yard. Remove them the next day. Repeat next month. Do this for the whole term of the presidency. 

Imagine for a moment, a few weeks from now. The marches and demonstrations will be forgotten by most people. BUT . . . now imagine than once a month, across the whole country people see these signs expressing concerns for the environment, immigration issues, women’s rights, the economy, the horrors of bolognese sauce on pasta when butter suffices. 

There is another advantage to doing that . . . neighbors will know there are multiple concerned citizens around them, people with opinions and commitment, people of conviction. Conversations might ensue. Sure, maybe even arguments, but you can control that. 

Imagine you are driving to work and you see signs dispersed all over the city. Every month. Post them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram . . . not every day, but that one day a month. Repeat every month. Not every day, not as your backdrop at your site or Facebook or Twitter; once a month. People notice changes and ignore that that stays the same.

Organize, write, act. 

And, not just at the federal level. It’s even more important at the local level. Crap-all people vote in local elections, but they are very important. Get involved. Follow the same schedule for your state representatives.  

Are you concerned that will not be enough? I have yet another suggestion . . . 

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You know that idiot celebrity? OK, that’s not specific enough. Enlist the help of a few celebrities. Or do it yourself with your 1,999,999 buddies. 

About once a week, Tweet something like this:

How come Trump don’t have a dog? Other presidents did. So SAD.

Once he gets a dog . . . 

Trump picked ugly dog. Obama’s dog much better. Very unfair!

. . . and . . .

Trump average president so far.  Lying Donald pulled a fast one on us. SAD . . . and, I miss Obama. I even miss Bush.

Did they order smaller pens for when Trump has to sign something? Small hands, SAD.

It don’t look like Trump drinks Diet Coke. Hugely SAD.

The man will be too busy foaming at the Twitter to actually do anything. 

You are welcome.

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As usual, click on the photos for a larger version or go to the SmugMug Random Post Gallery HERE.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

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Note: if you are not reading this blog post at DisperserTracks.com, know that it has been copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.

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Please, if you are considering bestowing me recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so.  I will decline blogger-to-blogger awards.   I appreciate the intent behind it, but I prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way.  That would mean something to me.

If you wish to know more, please read below.

About awards: Blogger Awards
About “likes”:   Of “Likes”, Subscriptions, and Stuff

Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.

. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

Finally, if you interpret anything on this blog as me asking or wanting pity, encouragement, or advice to better my life, know my subtle mix of irony, sarcasm, and humor is blowing right by you.

About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
This entry was posted in Musings Stuff, Personal, Photo-effects, Photography, Politics and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to On Protesting and Other Things

  1. renxkyoko says:

    Sustained protests are effective, and protesting on the streets is only one way. I myself have already signed on many petitions and these will be sent to Congress.

    But I do believe that protesting on the street is the most effective, therefore they should continue that, once a month, at least, with the same massive numbers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • disperser says:

      I can’t speak to efficacy because historical data may not be relevant to current conditions when it comes to information transfer. And even historical data is sketchy when it comes to effectiveness.

      For instance, if you get a photo of a cop beating up a pregnant woman, you could say you hit gold as far as getting your message across in a sympathetic manner. On the other hand, if you get a picture of a doughnut shop owner dejectedly staring at his shop in flames, the message is lost.

      For instance, part of the effectiveness of the race marches in the 60s and the anti-war protests in the 70s was both getting the message out showing widespread support (believe it or not, there was no Internet back then), but there is also the impact of police dogs tearing into demonstrators and students being shot. Those are powerful images we don’t see today. Showing cops shooting tear gas at demonstrators who are in the process of overturning cars sends a mixed message . . . who do you root for?

      These days getting the message out literally takes one tweet.

      And, again, I’m not opposed to people taking to the street; I personally do not think they are as effective as a sustained dedication to engaging our elective officials.

      Now, that is different in oppressive regimes; there is some safety in numbers and it lessens the risk of personalized retaliation. But, we don’t live in such a state . . . yet.

      Like

  2. Dina says:

    Very interesting read! Still, I want to voice my opinion against hatred. It cannot be tolerated. I do so hope that this man will surprise us all and so something good, including not excluding.

    Liked by 2 people

    • disperser says:

      I do hope that’s what I’m doing here, spreading a message in my little corner of the world. I’m not convinced I would be more effective out on a street corner waving a sign.

      Again, I may be a different sorts (or so I’ve been told) but when I consider doing something, I take into account a number of things. I still see protests as channeling anger into a momentary release. That may help a person’s state of mind (“Hey, I’m doing something!”) and it may make a person feel good about themselves, but as far as I can tell, few people sustain the level of commitment and focus necessary to get results.

      I’m not just blowing smoke here; how many letters to their representatives does the typical voter send each year? My guess is that the average voter does not send any letters.

      My opinion, and you can take that for all that it’s worth (not much) is that I would rather see people channel their efforts to sustained involvement in government, from being informed of everything that goes on (as opposed to one or two issues) to regularly communicating with elected officials.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. sandra getgood says:

    One of the things I consider important is calling liars out on the lies. Every time, never allowing telling a lie to become “normal” and acceptable behavior. The press should do it, and so should every one of us. If something is provably untrue and deliberately said over and over again, we need to call that person out.

    And I really like your Tweet suggestions. Those are great.

    Like

  4. Eddy Winko says:

    I think I might even get a twitter account just to send your message! Well my message but you know what I mean.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well, I disagree with most of your opinions but I heartily agree with your suggestions! And I like your photos. So you’re batting over .500 in this posting! I truly believe that this protest was successful mainly because of the numbers that turned out all over the world. And I don’t think there was one arrest in Washington. The only violence I heard of was in Madonna’s speech. Maybe we should leave protest marches to the women!

    Like

    • disperser says:

      Well, people can differ on such matters. I did a fair amount of reading on the efficacy of protests, and it comes down to opinions, of which we both have one.

      I was not specifically targeting the women’s march, and I’m not saying all protests get violent. The inauguration day protests did turn violent and property was destroyed.

      Even on the women’s march, Madonna got more press than should have, and I’d argue she does not come off as the beacon of rationality she imagines herself to be. Should she be considered a spokesperson for the women in attendance?

      But, I have a question for you . . . you say the protests were successful. What do you mean by successful? That they happened? That something changed? That people steeped in misogyny and a disregard for the opinions of women had a change of heart?

      Or do you mean successful in the fact that many people turned up? I’m not denigrating or minimizing the commitment of the people involved and the effort it takes to organize and execute such a march.

      My question is whether such effort is better focused elsewhere.

      Some say “why not do all of it; protest, be involved, write, call, etc?” and that is exactly my question. I don’t see this kind of mobilization carried forward to literally swamp elected officials with concerns and questions and pressure to enact changes. Were I a politician, I would nod sympathetically knowing that in another week things will be back to “normal”.

      Imagine, instead, if all the people who traveled to Washington donated all that money they spent to a fund that hires lobbyists and lawyers to put pressure on elected officials and bring about lawsuits.

      Let’s see . . . 500,000 * 200(travel) + 500,000 * 150(lodging) + 500,000 * 200(meals) + 500,000 * 0.25(chewing gum) = $275,125,000

      That’s a lot of money to put toward enacting change. The interesting thing is that if someone asked all those people to each donate $550.25 they might have balked at it.

      Like

  6. What other way is there for the people to get a message across? Governments are supposed to be there to govern at the will of the people for the people, if they are there just for their own benefit what other option is there? What do you suggest? Writing a letter? Would do a lot of good!.
    There are not really many options, The 18th century revolution was seemingly quite successful, but then the opponents were from another country far away. So now a revolution would not be on. So how to make the voice of the people heard,; now. 4 years is a long time to wait, to just sit back and accept whats wrong. Put a stop to it before it gets a hold.
    The English wouldn’t put up with it in the 13th century, and like it or not that feeling and blood still runs through the minds of the American people. Well quite a lot truth be known; even if unacknowledged!
    But then I’m prejudiced.

    Like

    • disperser says:

      Almost seems as if you didn’t read what I said.

      There certainly is a time to taking to the streets. I just don’t happen to think this is it.

      I’m open to an explanation about what this or any demonstration accomplishes. If it’s a matter of having one’s voice heard, then I say a letter (fax, e-mail) is exactly something that helps.

      Look at it from the perspective of any of the elected officials. I look out at that throng and have no idea how many people from my district are in there. It’s easy, in fact, to imagine that since I was voted into office, those people do not represent the people who voted me into office. What was it that Trump Tweeted? “Those people should have voted” or something like that.

      Again, I’m not saying don’t demonstrate or don’t protest. Want to go out there with a sign? Knock yourself out. Want to tell me Trump or any of his cohorts are moved by such demonstrations?

      Well, there I will point to evidence as opposed to feelings. They are not. The demonstrations against the war in Iraq did squat all in keeping us out of that war. Massive involvement of people in politics and constant barraging of elected officials might have done something, but now we’ll never know.

      Education, information, and involvement at a local level I think are more effective ways to affect policies. A strong unbiased press with deep ranks of investigative journalists might help, but that too has gone out the window.

      But yes, at some point, if nothing gets done, Democrats and other liberals will have to take up arms they don’t have and . . . oh, wait . . .

      Like

  7. I think when people feel frustrated they want to do something that makes them feel better. So, even if something like a march doesn’t change anything, it helps the marchers feel better…empowered, heard, etc. :-) And hopefully they will do more than just rest on the laurels of the march.
    Your suggestions are excellent, Emilio! Organize, write, act..we should all participate in them!
    I like what you said about being active at the local level. Often what happens there affects us in big ways.
    Your photos are stunning and, ooh, some of them are electrified! :-)
    HUGS!!! :-)

    Like

    • disperser says:

      There is little doubt in my mind that it makes marchers feel better. I happened to see a bit of the local march here (as I carefully avoided the streets they were on) and it looked like a merry-ole-time was being had.

      And thank you . . . I’m trying to drum up activism so that I don’t have to do anything.

      And, thanks for the comment about the photos. I had a bunch I had played with and figured a few posts would be the perfect excuse to use them (one more post coming up).

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Marchers these days seem to meet people who think like them, and who will validate and reinforce their views. And that is maybe what they want? March if you want, but if people are not interested to hear other peoples view it is sort of useless. Lovely photos, by the way, really beautiful. Some people should look more at the beauty of nature.

    Like

  9. You do speak a truth that works. Thank you for putting it out here.
    I do love your interpretations of the images you present. Kudos.
    Warmest regards, Ed

    Like

  10. beetleypete says:

    I am not an American, (and didn’t care less who won) but I cannot help remark on the irony of the huge outcry against Trump. If only all this effort had been directed into supporting his opponents, he probably would never have won in the first place. Instead, they sat back, expecting him to lose, and anticipating the laughs at his presumption. The same thing happened here in the UK, over the Brexit vote. And the bad losers and shocked lazybones are making just as much fuss. Let’s hope that everyone has learned a valuable lesson for the future.
    You reap what you sow. And if you don’t sow, there’s no point complaining when there is nothing to reap. Like the old saying goes, there is no point shutting the door after the horse has bolted.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Like

    • disperser says:

      Just to be clear, I think the majority of the protesters are not people who stayed home and did not bother to vote.

      I would venture a guess very few of the protesters are just now “waking up” to the Trump Presidency.

      Now, me, I did not vote. I thought both candidates were flawed, but also I live in an overwhelmingly “blue” state. It mattered not what I did and so I avoided holding my nose and picking a candidate.

      As far as protesting, while I won’t be carrying a sign, I will be vocal about things, just as I was over the last five administrations. No matter if “your candidate” wins or not, one must always assume the government does not give a rat’s behind about you, so there’s always stuff to bitch about.

      Like

  11. well Disperser, I tend to agree so thanks for putting this all to screen so to speak. You’ve made some great points! I’ve never been a protester or placard waver and yes crowds can turn ugly no matter what ideals you espouse! I can’t bear crowds and am claustrophobic anyway.

    Like

    • disperser says:

      You are welcome.

      I will reiterate — for them who care — that there is a time to protest, but that it’s not very effective unless followed by sustained involvement in the process.

      With the consequences that we face from actions of this administration — both short term and long term, and both on a personal and global level — I do believe more people than not will be galvanized into finally taking an interest in what is going on. The worry there is that people as a group tend to overreact.

      I don’t like crowds either, but that’s more a security concern than anything else. Also, because of the grossness of temporary bathrooms. Oh, and because most people are rude. Oh, also because I might actually have to talk to someone.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Thanks for putting your ideas out there, Disperser. I am sympathetic to many of the protesters, but hesitant to get into a big crowd like that. I agree about not really wanting to let other protesters “represent” you. The flowers are nice too 😊.

    Like

    • disperser says:

      Thank you.

      I get a bit irritated whenever I see or hear a newsperson emphasize the negative aspects of a given protest. The fact that a bunch of people were motivated to get on on the streets is important, and to have it reduced to a video of someone throwing a garbage can is a disservice the media is more than happy to provide.

      That said, it would be nice if protests would be free of violence. These days, it does not look likely, so avoid I will.

      Like

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