Unless you’ve been in your closet for the last month, you may have noticed a growing incidence of protesters seeking redress against the government of the United States. It’s spreading to other countries now.
More civil unrest is almost inevitable in the US. Prices are skyrocketing, wages aren’t going up, and unemployment is horrifyingly high. The Occupy movement doesn’t surprise me (I expected something like it) but there is one thing they need to remember.
WHEN YOU POOP ON THE STREET YOUR MESSAGE IS LOST.
The Occupy camps have created a Woodstock-like atmosphere of filth, stench, and destruction of public areas, and now people are getting killed. Here are four ways to ensure that your cause gets its due.
#4 – Don’t scream.
When you were a kid, did you listen when your mom or dad yelled at you? And what happened when you yell at them? I’ll bet you a dollar they told you to go calm down and then they would listen to what you had to say.
If you yell at people, they’ll focus on the screaming and not the content. They’re also likely to run from you.
#3 – Don’t hit anybody or throw anything.
Violence does the same thing as screaming. Let me tell you a story.
When I lived in Santa Cruz, California in the early ’90s, the city enacted an ordinance that stated you couldn’t sit on the sidewalk unless you were waiting to get into a restaurant. The ordinance was supposed to reduce the number of panhandlers downtown, who were scaring away tourists and bleeding revenue from the merchants there.
That’s all fine and dandy, except the ordinance was unfair. According to the wording, if you sat on the curb to tie your shoelace, you could be in violation.
So a peaceful (hear that? PEACEFUL) group of protesters simply went downtown and sat on the sidewalk. The cops picked them up and removed them as discreetly as they could.
Outside agitators from Berkeley heard about this and swarmed in. Not their town, not their problem, but that didn’t stop them. They had to have their say. Expecting trouble, the cops showed up in riot gear. I can’t blame them either, although some people said it aggravated the situation.
I was down there watching this. Someone climbed up a light pole, and when the first rock hit a cop’s helmet, I vamoosed. The subsequent riot ended up with numerous people being arrested and more than twenty windows broken.
The ordinance was quietly repealed.
Did the riot cause this? Perhaps, but knowing Santa Cruz’s vocal population, and knowing also that the city was open to criticism (at least at that time), the sit-in might have done the trick. The main focus on that night’s news was not the ordinance, but the broken windows.
#2 – Make sure you have done your homework
The Berkeley agitators poked their nose in where it didn’t belong. They didn’t spend time downtown, so they didn’t understand the problem. The Internet is full of these protesters, haunting comment threads and blogs galore, waiting to pounce on any suggestion of unfairness or oppression.
On Consumerist, a blog I like to read about consumer issues, there’s always someone who does this. He/she will post a criticism, usually of the original complainant. Everyone else will jump down his/her throat with “RTFA(read the fucking article)” and if he/she tries to stick to the first uninformed argument, further comments will be quickly squelched.
There are many more people out there fact-checking than you think. Because of the relative anonymity of the Internet, they have no qualms about pointing out your mistakes and completely derailing your protest.
So make sure if you post a rant against beef producers for selling ground-up cow assholes to vitamin companies for protein supplements (I made that up—I hope), check your sources and make sure they really are. You don’t want to be sued for libeling someone, or spreading stupidly false information. Go to snopes.com and look it up first. Chances are someone already sent it in.
#1 – Give the other side a chance to rebut you.
What? WHAT? Let them speak? Surely you jest.
If you let someone else tell their side of the story, they’re much more likely to listen to you. Those farmers might be selling ground-up cow assholes to vitamin makers, but if you listen to them for just one damn second you’ll find out they use them for DOG supplements, not people ones. (Disclaimer—again, I made this up.) If you just scream over them, you’ll never find that out. And then you’ll look like an idiot.
If other people are always saying to you “JUST LET ME FINISH!!” you may be guilty of this. Ask your controversial question and then listen for the answer. If the answer is bogus, then feel free to point that out. But you better see #2 first.
BONUS—Don’t kill people.