Friday, September 5, 2008
Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Dumbshit Protesters Have to Go!
Does this picture make you more or less sympathetic to whatever cause these people are promoting?
So, I like to consider myself a reasonably well informed, politically minded person. As such, I have been enjoying the Democratic and Republican National Conventions over the last two weeks. It's a historic campaign for many reasons and after an endless primary process, it's finally getting good. I really look forward to the debates, the posturing and the gamesmanship that we will see over the next two months.
But there is one thing I saw during McCain's acceptance speech last night that I have never understood. When will misguided political radicals learn that obnoxious protests do more damage to their cause than good? I couldn't care less about what their message happens to be. 911 Truthers, Global Warming Apocalypse, Cheney drinks the blood of Iraqi babies. Whatever. It's a free country, believe whatever the hell you want. But if they're going to try to persuade other people, at least do it by using tactics that work. And certainly don't go with worn out cliches that are counterproductive. Interrupting a Presidential candidate while he is addressing the nation does not win any supporters to whatever cause you have. It infuriates and inspires your opposition and it alienates and irritates fair minded people, who may have been persuaded to your cause if you hadn't been such a prick about it.
It's like bumper stickers. No one in the history of time has ever been parked behind a car at a red light and had their political / cultural viewpoint revolutionized by a 4 word slogan screaming at them from the bumper in front of them. No Subaru driving, hairy legged woman has ever said, "You know what, I've been a life long pro choice advocate, but maybe it really is a child, not a choice. The minivan told me so." Just as no F350 owning, Carhart Jacket wearing plumber has ever said "Hey, I am an NRA member and an avid hunter, but I now believe meat is murder. Thanks preachy PETA member, driving a lime green Jetta."
The reason this has never happened is the same reason that protesters are always ineffective. Bumper stickers are not meant to be a statement of persuasion, they a statement of individual expression. If I had a Boston Red Sox sticker on my car, I'm not telling you to love the Red Sox. I'm telling you that I love the Red Sox. Likewise, if I had a John Birch Society "Get U.S. Out of the U.N." sticker,I should have no real expectation of changing anyone's mind about the value of the U.N. I would only really be interested in presenting myself in a specific political light.
A giant protest is nothing but a massive bumper sticker. Signs, chanting, friggin' puppets?! None of it does anything except reinforce the beliefs of those that already agreed with you and piss off your opposition. And that's a pretty futile objective. The same applies to right wing talk radio. Rush Limbaugh makes no attempt what-so-ever at convincing others of his beliefs. He is reinforcing those that already agree with him. The problem with this attitude, is that as soon as that becomes your objective, you have a license to act like a total dick. People who agree will love you know matter what kind of an ass you are, and everyone else hates you anyway. Rush certainly is aware of this, and those douchebags last night seemed to know it as well.
Look, I'm not here to tell you what to believe. It's not that I don't care. I love having well thought out, honest discussions with people who agree or disagree with me. Defending my own beliefs usually strengthens them, however I have been persuaded by another point of view several times. Either way, it's a constructive experience. But the problem is, you can't have an honest discussion with someone who is screaming at you.