The point of protesting?

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In summary, the conversation discussed the effectiveness of protests and whether they have any practical impact. Some argued that protests have led to significant changes in history, such as women's rights and environmental issues. Others questioned the purpose of protests, especially in the current war, and criticized the behavior of some protesters. Overall, there was no clear consensus on the outcome of protests and their effectiveness.
  • #1
As I've watched the many protests on TV lately, I've been wondering - do protests ever accomplish anything?

I kind of understand why people protest; to show dissent for the most part. This is fine and I support freedom of speech for whomever.

However, I was just curious if anything actually comes out of it. Is it productive or does it just make people feel better? Is it less reasonable to protest post-decision (i.e. after we are already at war) than it is before hand? Do laws actually get changed because of protests?

I'm not trying to be contrary - I'm just curious about the outcome of these protests, especially the ones that come before a decision is made.
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  • #2
The Vietnam War started off very small and grew quietly. While anyone with a TV or radio was inundated with information about the Iraq situation, many people did not bother to formulate opinions about Vietnam. The sight of people protesting the war made people wonder why someone would oppose their country. It isn't that many opinions changed, it is that opinions were formed when otherwise they wouldn't have.

I'm not sure what protesting the present war accomplishes. I read an article in "Slate" about a guy living in San Fransisco, trying to get to his office to publish his anti-war essay, and being blockaded by people protesting the war. He seemed to think their purpose is "pissing off the choir". Is blocking the street and chanting "No blood for oil" going to make someone suddenly think, "Hmm, maybe this is a war for oil. That's not right!" Perhaps these protests could be restricted to those exiting the biosphere project. Everyone who can be informed about this war, is informed about this war. Protests should be aimed at illuminating the subtleties that could be overlooked by an ordinary person formulating their opinion.

These protests will have no effect:
Stating the war is for oil.
Stating the war is to enrich Bush's cronies.
Stating that soldiers or civilians will die.
Stating that terrorism will increase.
Any of the various "America is evil" arguments.

Protesting is a wonderful right we enjoy. I'm not one of those who think it's treasonous to protest during a war. But don't just be a weight on society. To those protesters out there, for the sake of your own side, don't drown out those who have something to say by screaming pointless jingles.

  • #3
As to the question of whether or not protesting has any practical effect, I would say a most emphatically "yes".

It was almost entirely through protest that women get the right to vote. And through further protests in following decades that these rights were improved to the approximation of equality women now enjoy in this country. It was also in major factor in the international moratorium on whaling. The "harvesting" of baby fur seals, slash-and-burn clearing of the Amazon rain forest, animal testing by major corporations; all of these have been impacted by public protest in significant ways. Major corporations cannot stay in business with a lot of bad PR, neither can politicians maintain their hold on public office (in this country).

The "mobs chanting catchy jingles" may be fairly annoying, but they do serve to increase public awareness. That is, they may get some people who feel opposed to the war, but don't actually do anything about it to get off their collective rear.
  • #4
i agree LURCH. the unorganized protesters blocking streets and whatnot is crap though, especially when they are throwing rocks and rocking cars an the like.
  • #5
Yea, I was something of a "hippie" in the '70s, and I never thought I'd see the day when innocent passers-bye would be attacked by peace protesters! What kind of message does that send? It tells everyone watching "we don't believe our own position".

These people would appear to be just looking for an excuse to cause trouble.
  • #6
i don't think the major protests will do any good with this war...
  • #7
I think maybe that for some there really is not point other than to spend some time burning off testosterone.

Think about it. By the time some white guy has spent all that time braiding his hair into dreadlocks, he's lost his girlfriend and his job. He's basically got blue-balls and nothing else to do.

pointless posts like this get deleted!
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  • #8
Thanks for all of your replies. I didn't really understand mostly because these are the first major protests I've ever witnessed and I never thought peace protestors could be so violent.

The fact still remains that at this point most of the people are wasting their time (unless they don't have jobs or are children which seems to be popular for some odd reason.) *shrug*
  • #9
Unemployed hippies and Muslim fanatics make up 90% of the protesters in the UK. The other 10% have been people who have never been on a protest before (oooh!) and turn up for a day out and a picnic.
  • #10
What is the point of rah-rah flag-waving BS? What is teh point of any of that partiotic nonsense?
  • #11
Originally posted by Zero
What is the point of rah-rah flag-waving BS? What is teh point of any of that partiotic nonsense?

You don't see much of it in the streets. It doesn't generally prevent people from getting to work. Where you do see it, and this is weird, is in the framing and intros for the TV news about the war. To me, this is a mistake. It's like coming right out and saying, "Here's some biased news about the war". Maybe it does belong there.