Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Not All Protests Are Created Equal

I remember in college, this was back in 2001-02, encountering a picket at a local gas station. I noticed some of my friends were part of the picket and inquired why they were conducting this exercise. They responded that the gas station (It was a BP station if memory serves me correctly), was degrading the environment by drilling in ANWR. I pointed out that there was no drilling in ANWR at that point (still none to this date). Undeterred by facts, there rationale shifted, it was now a preemptive protest. The owner was actually really nice and polite (Minnesotans are, almost every last one of them with the exception of Garrison Keilor) to all of these idiotic protesters. He explained to them that he was an independent franchisee and that his gasoline actually came by way of Oklahoma as opposed to anywhere in Alaska. But the protest went on though, it seemed more than anything to piss off the town residents seeking to tank up and depriving the gas station owner of a morning's revenues.

Anyhow the moral of my story is that sometimes protesting a just cause is itself not enough, the manner of your protest is of great importance, too...which brings us to this story. Protesters in Paris attempted to take the olympic torch from a wheel chair bound amputee torch bearer. It almost sounds like an Onion headline. Amazingly enough, the torch bearer held on.

I sympathize with the protestors endgame, shining a light on China's harsh treatment of Tibet. I also recognize in light of recent Chinese actions combined with the fact that China is now at the forefront of the world stage by virtue of hosting the olympics, that now is an ideal time to highlight China's human rights abuses. That said, attacking a special olympian, a wheel chair bound amputee is probably counterproductive.

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