Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Fine Art of Effective Protest

The Fine Art of Effective Protest

There are three things wrong with these current round of protests.

(1) They are not nearly big enough.

(2) They need a reason to exist - a clear message.

Protesting the fact that Trump was elected is nonsense. He's elected. That's a fact. Protesting this fact is like a child throwing a temper tantrum. "I don't want Trump to be President. Whaaaaaa!"

Here's a reason to protest. There are a lot of people in a communication bubble made up of Fox News and paid for by corporate interests. (Not all corporate interests are malevolent, but some of them certainly are.)

On the internet, and in our personal lives, we create communication bubbles. We hear only from those people we agree with. All others, we "unfriend" or we simply refuse to access their internet sites or click on their links.

We heed to burst these internet bubbles and get real, accurate information to these people - information about climate change, about Obamacare, and about social injustices. This is a benevolent act. They are harming their own interests, those of their friends and neighbors, and, most of all, those of their children.

Write up something. One page. Pass it around to anybody you encounter. Put it on windshields of cars. Invite people to meetings where they can learn more.

The purpose of the protest is to get them to pay attention - to "look this way".

The purpose of a protest defines its content. It needs to be packed with information. Good, honest, reliable, fact-checked information. Not "leftist propaganda" that can be easily dismissed and discarded. Not mere opinion that has no facts behind it. Facts, that people can look up for themselves - that Politifact will identify as "True".

(3) It must be non-violent.

Loud, but not violent.

By "loud", I mean something that is hard to ignore. I mean shouting. I also mean civil disobedience - actions that may be technically criminal but that do no actual harm.

NOTE: Civil disobedience needs to be announced in advance with a clear messasge. Ghandi's salt march, and King's march on Selma Alabama are paradigm examples. "We are going to do X. We are going to do X at this date at this time and at this location. We are doing X for the following reasons."

And it is best to precede the act with some perfectly legal action that nobody has any right to stop. The best preliminary action is a march from a rally location to the location where the civil disobedience will take place.

Violence will only invite hatred and make retaliation seem justified. Worse, violence tends to spiral out of control. Group A commits acts of violence against Group B, who now feel justified in retaliating against Group A, who now feel that they are justified in further violence against Group B. Pretty soon you have a situation like Iraq or Lebanon (or North Ireland, until recently) - filled with people whose main goal in life is to deliver yet another deadly blow against the opposition.

The best place to stop this cycle of violence is before Round 1 - do not start it. If the other side starts it, then it both starts and ends with them. If not before Round 1, then when? Round 9? Round 109? 1000 years from now? Nope - before Round 1 is the only rational place to stop the violence.

Trump is an authoritarian. He is going to hate protest. A person who can be provoked with a tweet will be provoked by a protest. He will look for ways to make a violent response. Count on it. Be ready for it. Be resolved to the principle that the violence starts and stops with them.

If there are people on your side prone to do violence, then plan your activities without them. Do not let them corrupt and contaminate your message. The message is important. Corrupting and contaminating it is counter-productive.


Anonymous said...

Hi. Deplorable Trump supporter here. I think you hit the nail on the head with the ideologically self segregated media consumption habits. (Although I don't think its exclusive to people on the right. The Left does it equally as much.) And you're right that political protests need clear messages. But all the messaging and information won't make a difference (to me, as a Trump supporter) if your party wants to destroy the first amendment by interpreting it to meaninglessness.

Hillary Clinton (as well as nearly the entire Democratic Party) is anti-free speech. According to her interpretation of the first amendment, if the government threatens political documentary filmmakers with criminal penalties for releasing their documentaries, this is not a violation of free speech. And this logic has been extended to virtually all forms of media -- newspapers, books, union pamphlets... probably to blogs, podcasts, etc... anything. She said she would use this interpretation as a litmus test for her Supreme Court nominee. So I couldn't support that. This was issue #1 for me. And that's why I supported Donald Trump.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Trump say he wanted to bring back libel laws to use as a weapon against critics in the media who were "against" him? I took that as a pretty big red sign that he was not the man to support if you were interested in the first amendment and the right to criticize your government.

Anonymous said...


Yes, he said that unfortunately. So he isn't the perfect free speech candidate. However, 2 points in his defense:

(1): It still isn't nearly as bad as Hilary's position, which I outlined in my previous comment. So since we only have two realistic options, Trump was the better pick for this issue. (Otherwise, Gary Johnson probably would have been the best pick on that issue.)

(2): Trump was certainly the victim of slander and libel during his campaign, so when he said that he may have just been frustrated with the media's handling of his comments. (Example of defamation during the campaign: When the hot-mic comments from the bus were revealed, many media figures described Trump bragging about "grabbing women's genitals against their will," bragging about "sexual assault", etc. However, he never suggested any of that was against their will or without their consent. In fact, he fairly explicitly stated otherwise when he suggested they gave him permission to do those things because he was famous. "When you're a star, they let you do what you want." The word 'let' means permission granted. If I say "Bob let me use his car", I didn't just describe taking Bob's car against his will. In any case, the media's spin in this particular case involved obvious and damaging lies.)

Anonymous said...

When he said he grabbed them and/or kissed them and they "let" him, I thought that meant he did it without asking first and, because he was a star, they wouldn't do anything even if they weren't comfortable with it. I wouldn't consider that "consent" even if, strictly speaking, they let him do it without consequence. I think of that more as women being afraid of retaliation from a rich "star" if they speak up and therefore enduring something they shouldn't have to.

Alonzo Fyfe said...

Anonymous 1:

You seem to have me confused with somebody else. I have no interest in partisan politics. If you expect me to run through a defense of everything on the Democratic platform, you came to the wrong blog.

I approach each issue on its own merits. On other issues, I will be critical of Democrats, as I am with their view on the minimum wage. In all things, I am interested in making the world a better place than it would have otherwise been, not in being a partisan foot soldier.

Currently, Trump is enacting policies that will literally kill tens of millions of people, spread suffering and misery to hundreds of millions more, destroying whole countries and cities because he is a callous megalomaniacal idiot These policies cannot even be defended under the title of "capitalism" and "free market". They fall under the category of "ignoring reality".

The physical properties of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is NOT a partisan issue. There is no such thing as conservative physics and liberal physics. There is one and only one physics and what physics dictates will happen regardless of political preference. You cannot put a bunch of Republicans in office and then adopt a "conservative" law of thermodynamics in which we can put unlimited CO2 in the atmosphere and suffer no adverse consequences.

People are going to die. Lots of people. That's what I care about.

Anonymous said...


But that's not what "let" means. If I say "When you're a star, anyone will let you use their cell phone", I'm not saying I go around stealing people's phones because I think I'm above the law due to my fame. I'm saying that due to my fame, people will give me permission to use those phones. If you interpret him charitably instead of leaping to the worst possible interpretation (which doesn't even make sense given the words used), I think you'll see that his statements weren't really all that bad. Not any worse than you'd hear at a comedy club with comedians half heartedly shooting the shit.

@ Alonzo Fyfe

"People are going to die. Lots of people."

This is more than a little hyperbolic. The Republicans were going to control the congress whether Hillary or Donald won. Obama has been in the White House 8 years, and still the climate change issue hasn't been solved, and it wouldn't be solved if Hillary was elected (even if only because of Republican obstructionism.) I'm not saying that the physical facts are partisan issues. But you are naive if you think that Clinton being elected would cause meaningful work on climate change to be done.

But what WOULD happen if Hillary was elected is that she would get 1-3 Supreme Court nominees, would interpret the first amendment to meaninglessness, and, depending on who's in power and can lean on the FEC, you might not even be ABLE to criticize a Republican for not accepting climate change without the FEC counting your chosen media platform's cost as a campaign contribution to the Republican's political opponent and blocking the release of your criticism.

I'm not expecting you to run through a defense of the Democratic platform, but you clearly prefer Clinton, and I was just pointing out why I preferred Trump. On an issue that actually matters for this election, he was clearly the better choice. (And even if Clinton could have started helping reverse climate change -- I'd much rather be 4 more years behind in solving it than to lose the first amendment. Tossing out the first amendment to get 4 year "jump start" on the issue is incredibly shortsighted.)

Alonzo Fyfe said...

No, it is not hypoerbolic.

It's physics.

You can't get elected into office and repeal the black body radiation formula. It is going to remain in force regardless of any policy or plan one might enact, and it will produce its effects regardless of one's desires.

That's the point.

That is where the protest needs to get through the communication bubble.

There are people in industries that are pocketing tens of billions of dollars from activities that will, in the future, literally kill hundreds of millions of people, cause suffering for billions more, and destroy whole cities (including Miami, New Orleans, New York, Washington DC, and Los Angeles).

I know, the people who are pocketing those billions of dollars have hired politicians, public relations firms, and are using the media that they control to say that this is not true.

But the laws of physics cannot be repealed or wished away.

All of this stuff you say about Clinton is not relevant. She lost. She's out of the picture.

Now we have Trump and the policies that he plans to implement - policies that will, in fact, kill hundreds of millions of people, create great suffering for a billion more, and destroy whole cities.

Anonymous said...

"I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. I just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything." I really don't think he's saying he asked first and was given permission. He seems to be clearly saying that he just does whatever he wants and people don't do anything to stop him because he's a star.

Anonymous said...

Anon#1 here,

Did my most recent response to your Nov 11 comments get removed? Or did it just not post for some reason?

Alonzo Fyfe said...

I have removed no comments.

Resophonic said...

I agree with almost everything in this with one modification. I think it is absolutely our duty to obstruct those in power to defend those without. I don't think we casually obstruct on every issue like the Rs did to Obama, but we absolutely obstruct the policies that all good people should reject.

Anonymous said...


Okay, I guess it was a technological issue, then.

Basically, I made the following point:

I didn't deny physics or any of the relevant physical facts, as you know, and I never suggested someone could repeal physical laws. (No one thinks this, as far as I know.) So I don't know why you keep saying things like that. And I never had a problem with educating anyone on, say, climate change.

Instead, I was just pointing out that there exists people like me who prioritize 1st amendment free speech over addressing something like climate change (or basically any other issue) 2-4 years sooner than we otherwise might. I know you said you aren't interested in partisanship, but if the party most likely to positively affect climate change also has as part of their platform something as serious as the destruction of the first amendment, you have to see that these kinds of things will turn people off of voting in such a way as to positively affect the climate change issue, regardless of what education you give them on that issue, yes? If you care about the climate change issue, then ensuring the party platform on which it appears is as rational as possible is a worthy goal, and increases the likelihood of that issue being addressed. After all, you think we are talking about saving the lives of millions of people, so it is worth considering.

(None of this disagreed with your general points for an effective protest, or even the purpose for the protest. I just think there is a bigger picture to consider when trying to move the political world to enact change on a particular issue, and was trying to point that out.)

@2nd Anonymous

Again, that's not what "let" means. It means permission is granted. Also, you are not accounting for hyperbole. If I say "That buffet was like a magnet -- I ate a ton of food and couldn't stop shoving it into my mouth," I don't literally mean that I couldn't stop eating and that I ate a metric ton of food. Its hyperbole. Trump speaks in hyperbole all the time (as do many people).

Trump was basically talking about groupies there -- women you don't have to wine and dine and develop a relationship with before they are willing to have sex with you. For example, Drake doesn't have to wait to form a relationship with a woman before she is willing to have sex with him. He has a ton of groupies who will go into the back room of a club with him the moment they meet him. A groupie giving consent is not sexual assault.


When the Rs obstructed Obama, don't you think they disagreed with his policies on those issues? Don't you think they thought they were obstructing policies that good and well informed people should reject? (Not that I'm disagreeing with your central point -- I'm not. I just suspect they probably had the same philosophy, but disagreed on what was good or bad.)

Anonymous said...

You seem to think that "let" implies that he asked these women if he could kiss/grab them first and then they said "okay, go ahead;" however, I've never known the word "let" to necessarily imply permission was sought, only granted. If you put "define: let" into google, you get "not prevent or forbid; allow," among other things, which seems to back up my point that just because someone lets you do something doesn't mean you actually asked them to do so, or even, for that matter, that they were okay with you doing it. It simply means you did it and they did not prevent/forbid you. As another example, if I were to put my hand in the cookie jar and take a cookie (without asking) while grandma was watching, but she didn't say anything to prevent or chastise me, I think we could agree it would be fair to say she "let" me have a cookie.

It seems extremely clear to me from this, as well as the quotation in my last post, that he was not saying he asked them for consent and they granted it. He is instead saying that he did what he wanted without being given explicit consent and, because he is a star, they did not do anything about it even if it was inappropriate. That they might have been groupies or not-groupies or whatever makes not a whit of difference; if he touched them intimately without consent, as it seems to me he is saying he did, that is despicable.

All this being said, any further arguing seems like it would just be more quibbling over the technical, precise definition of the word "let," and its interpretation in this context, which seems largely subjective and therefore pointless to me. We might have to simply agree to disagree on this. You can have the last word, but I don't think we will convince each other of anything if we keep going, so I will stop here.