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Not so revolutionary protest

October 23, 2007

A handful of protests were staged over the past few days in D.C. The protests were aimed at a slew of issues, including the war in Iraq and climate change, according to the Washington Post. Of course, dissident voices from the public are an important element of meaningful political debate; but, with so few palpable consequences, you really have to weigh the merits of public demonstration.

This isn’t to say public involvement is futile, but frankly, an organized march in downtown D.C. just seems like old hat. Nothing is less revolutionary than a well-planned gathering. According to the Post, Monday’s protest at Capitol Hill resulted in 59 arrests — that’s at least 59 people who care enough about the issues to put themselves at the hands of police. But how much news coverage did the protest result in?

The news media is supposed to provide the public with information they need to make decisions in their lives (according to a journalism professor here at AU. Thanks.) So, does the lack of coverage of these protests indicate that the news media doesn’t think they’re important? Can the public go on with their lives without knowing about them?

Maybe so. When there’s seemingly (and sometimes literally) another protest every week, it’s not really newsworthy. Maybe it’s time for the public to use more creative methods for getting dissident voices heard. It seems to me that the Internet is a much more effective platform for protest. Sure, you can’t replicate the visual of thousands of people coming together for a cause, but these days, who even cares to look?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Donny Sheldon permalink
    October 26, 2007 5:40 am

    There was an article in Sunday’s Washington Post that somewhat explain the mediocre turn out at recent protests. Sameer Dossani, a protest organizer, stated the crowd was small compared to 2000’s protest which yielded 20,000 demonstrators, and attributed the decline to a recent slew of anti-war protests throughout D.C. and the nation alike. The protest in Georgetown on Friday got rather frisky, though, when a police office was pushed from his scooter. It’s evident through the lukewarm impact of the past week’s protests the lack of news coverage regarding these demonstrations and their frequency are the primary reasons why most them have been arguably ineffective.

  2. Mescalero101er permalink
    October 26, 2007 6:38 am

    I fully agree that the use of protests has become rather pointless. They’ve been done before, they aren’t new and exciting anymore. We saw this over the summer with the Live Earth concerts, its certainly important, but didn’t we just do it with Live 8? The internet is a good start to get the ball rolling again, but it is incredibly easy to get lost in the noise. We have to take the bull by the horns, be succinct, confident, and authoritative in our protests, whichever form they may take. We also need to find a new way to stage a mass statement if we want the world to notice an issue. Marches aren’t doing it anymore. The most effective way I can think of starting change is boycotts. Without public support, things fall apart. If enough people don’t use something, it changes. Whether is political debate or climate change or gun control, we have to start changing the status quo.

  3. Sarah Duryea permalink
    October 26, 2007 3:44 pm

    It is always an interesting question to try and think of new and creative ways to protest. There is no doubt that thousands of people marching is not sending the right signal anymore. Take the peace protests which have yielded thousands and thousands of marchers. Some of the biggest protests in history. However, these protests can not and will not be effective if the mainstream media either doesn’t cover the protest or portrays every type of protester as a “dirty hippie” or a “violent anarchist”. While I also agree boycotts are a great idea there are also some things that I’m sure can’t or at least logically couldn’t be boycotted. I also agree that the internet is an amazing resource that should be utilized but nothing can speak the way sheer numbers can speak. I think it is jsut as important, if not more, to show our government the physical numbers that back our cause, whatever that might be at the time.

  4. Nick J permalink
    October 30, 2007 8:11 am

    There’s something to be said for seeing thousands of people converge on one location for a political cause. Protestors take time out of their lives (that could have been spent with friends, family members, working, having sex) to devote their energy toward furthering an agenda. If demonstrations have become maintstream, perhaps it’s not a reflection on protests as becoming a “cool” thing to do, but ask yourself whether it’s due to the unresponsiveness of our government within the last seven years. There would be no need for protests if our congressional representatives did, in fact, represnt our interests. The contrast is interesting: the 18 to 25 age group is both the hardest to mobilize in congressional elections but easiest to enflame for political protest. Instead of thinking about new methods of demonstration, then, perhaps we should be focusing on increasing electoral participation, then maybe we won’t have to protest….

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