(NOTE: Edited with actual protester numbers on 8/30/2010)
Folks, I find myself writing this post in dire protest of protesters – but only those who congregate in less than critical numbers, and those who protest events worlds away from their selected protest site.
Am I the only one who finds it rather silly that 25 people 35 people in Peterborough gather up to protest a woman being stoned to death in Iran?
Is there some ayatollah in Iran who’s going to read about this little chanting session from a handful of attention seekers and say “Great Allah’s Beard! Why haven’t we seen the error of our ways before this moment? How could we have been so wrong?”
The notion is so clearly retarded that it makes my mind spin.
Before you say it, I must say that I do understand the underlying concept: protesting here will attempt to put upward social pressure on elected government officials who may actually have some influence on the world stage.
However, these people really need to be honest with themselves.
It’s a sad thing, yes… but none-the-less true: the woman who is being stoned to death has absolutely nothing to do with anybody this far removed from Iran (excluding any immigrants of an Iranian origin).
Sure… there are any number of bleeding hearts out there that will donate $10 to a $100 to an organization like Amnesty International to appease their conscience – but then they’ll move on with their day, completely absolved of responsibility and forget the whole thing.
At the end of the day, this sort of protest is as effective as protesting the sun or the moon.
Even if you blow the number of protesters up a thousand times, odds are that politicians still won’t listen.
The recent G8/G20 summit and it’s attached protests would be a great example of that: thousands upon thousands of protesters/rioters/all-around hooligans descended on Toronto to scream, shout, break windows, and set police cars on fire in protest of… what? The global economy?
They did all this for the government agents and representatives on hand, right? The ones that blithely ignored them?
Or how about the Buddhist monks who set themselves on fire – burning to death calmly in protest?
Hòa thượng Thích Quảng Đức did this in South Vietnam to protest how Buddhist were treated – but this only resulted in lip service from the ruling government at the time.
For there to be any effect on governmental bodies, the protesters have to be a real and legitimate threat – threatening to take away the government’s power to rule through the election process: in a democratic society, every eligible voter gets one vote… and if enough of those votes are possessed by people protesting, that is an immediate danger to the politicos in charge.
To understand this, we have to go back in time… back to the American Civil Rights movement.
Martin Luther King’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was a truly awesome sight and one of the most effective protests that I can think of – nearly half a million people descending on the nation’s seat of power.
It showed the powers in Washington that the black man was now united in it’s desire for equality… that there were now millions of voters in the U.S.A. that would throw their ballots in the direction of whatever party and presidential candidate that would give them the right to stand up with pride and dignity in CrackerLand.
And while the results were not immediate, they were tangible: a year later, Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act.
For protests to work, you need to have both numbers… a commonality… and authoritative body that can be threatened.
This can be easily demonstrated in many European countries where the governments actually fear the people e.g. France: if the French government passes some legislative charter that doesn’t sit well with the average citizen, a large fraction of the populace will take to the streets for days or even weeks until the government backs down.
Somehow, the North American populace has lost this power – and I have to say that we are poorer for it, but it is how it is.
However, I’ve been talking purely about democratic society and not those elsewhere that aren’t quite that free.
Let’s zero in on Iran where that poor woman is going to be stoned to death.
Yes… in theory, Iran has open and freely voted democratic elections – but the caveat is that the country is a theocracy ruled by ayatollahs, and that makes the presidential and governmental processes purely symbolic.
As much as we would like to heap hatred on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he is merely the mouth piece of the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – a puppet (a poorly dressed one) that spouts the religious party lines when the ayatollah can’t be bothered with the small details.
So, honestly, what are 25 people in Peterborough going to do against that?
Especially considering the entire frakkin’ UNITED NATIONS can’t get Iran to do squat?
The majority of U.N. members don’t want Iran to have any sort of nuclear energy whatsoever – in case it results in the development of nuclear weapons – but Iran just fueled up it’s first nuclear reactor with the help of the Russians (who also tend to do whatever they like).
If the world’s most powerful authority (at least ostensibly) can’t get certain nations to change their ways, what chance do a few attention whores carrying signs and chanting rhyming mantras have?