Protests Have Gone Too Far (And That’s The Point)

Unsplash / Roya Ann Miller

“Thou doth protest too much.”

Even Shakespeare was mad at protesters. Or maybe I just took that line completely out of context. I never was much for reading the classics.

Either way, has anyone ever criticized someone for protesting too little or too meekly?

“Gee, so-and-so didn’t holler loudly enough or obnoxiously enough. I was really hoping for a more animated tirade against whatever.”

I doubt anyone has ever said anything remotely like that about any protest. That ain’t how protesting works. You don’t make your point by writing a mild-mannered, pleasant letter and choosing your words and actions carefully so you don’t offend anyone.

“Dear Mr. Sir, I’d really appreciate it if you wouldn’t do that because it hurts my fragile little feelings when you say mean things or treat me like you don’t like me or other members of my group.”

“Yeah, yeah… whatever… now go fuck off, you little wimp.”

See, that approach is not really gonna get you anywhere in the fight against injustice. But I’ll tell ya what will work. Dye your hair some crazy color. Wear some outrageous clothes. Pick an event with lots of media coverage.

And here’s the most important part… set out to ruin the damned thing by offending every single person watching or attending. Do whatever you have to do to make that happen.

Burn a flag. Spit on a baby. Laugh maniacally at whatever God they’re worshipping and call him an imposter. Drop your pants and show your disgusting, dimpled ass. You get the idea.

I’m not criticizing the method. It’s borne of necessity.

By the time some group gets to the point of taking such extreme measures, their members, either collectively or individually, have been trying for a long time to be heard through more polite communication like… you know… letter writing. They asked nicely, and we all know where nice guys finish.

I’m not a huge fan of these extreme ways of protesting. Like many, I cringe a bit watching someone gleefully torching a flag or turning their back when our national anthem is played.

My father served in the military. I have friends who served and sacrificed greatly and who have nothing to do with whatever injustice is being protested.

They’ve never slandered members of the protesting groups or even thought about it. Hell, most likely they served right alongside them and treated them as brothers and sisters. They’re collateral damage in these protests, and it saddens me watching them feel hurt and disrespected and often not understanding why.

I also recognize that some of the people doing these outrageous acts aren’t even devout supporters of the causes they’re drum beating. They’re just attention seekers making fools of themselves in hopes of getting their moment in the spotlight.

I don’t know what to do about these opportunists. There’s a part of me that would like to beat the shit out of them, and I’d probably be justified in doing so. Instead, let’s just throw them out of the conversation and focus on sincere protesters.

Assuming the protesters are authentic and genuine in feeling they’ve been wronged, I get why protests have to be this way. When you point something out and nothing happens, and you point it out again and again and again, and still not a damned thing happens, sometimes for decades, you get really fucking frustrated.

Your frustration eventually comes to a head and boils over, and you do something radical about it. You pick up that bullhorn and you shout your cause loudly enough to shatter some eardrums.

“You don’t hear me??? Well I’ll make sure you hear this, motherfucker!”

Recognizing this reality, I try putting myself in the shoes of the protester even when doing so is really difficult. When I’m able to do that, I’m a little less offended by the chosen method.

Does that person really not appreciate the country we live in and the sacrifices that were made to make the freedoms we enjoy possible, or are they just desperate to be heard?

Most of the time, I’m pretty sure it’s the latter. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Author of Will Little Roo Ever…? and Inside the Mind of an Iron Icon

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