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A mob proves... what?
Another day, another protest about another cause. As an example, eco-thugs are planning on disrupting proceedings at Heathrow. Displaying contempt of court if necessary.
But, regardless of the cause, it is all so pointless. It seems that, by default, if there's something you don't like, you try to gather a large crowd together. And while you are at it you Israel-bash, because that's what the leaders of such protests do. But I digress.
Now, I'm not a big fan of empty symbolism. Even the slightly less empty symbolism of having 35 blokes, 2 dogs plus rent-a-crowd and solidarity doesn't particularly impress me. If they bring "awareness", then good on them, but if there aren't enough people already concerned then they probably don't have the numbers to form a decent crowd, and if there are, then people are probably aware already. They just disagree or don't care.
And this is leaving aside the inherent arrogance that the protestors know better and have a right to preach, and all others be damned.
However, I do accept that people want to express concerns and make statements about issues. Maybe even solve them. So let's look at alternatives to the camp outside Heathrow Airport as a protest for Climate Change.
Now fact one: I am educated, I consider myself intelligent, I have access to the scientific literature. I am as aware of climate change as I choose to be. I'm still going home for my brother's wedding. I ain't spending the time in a boat.
Fact two: The more people who attend the camp, the more of a success it is, right? Wrong! As a classic Koala Park, every extra person who attend expends carbon dioxide, energy and money, when really they should be lying in a vegetative state (and hence absorbing CO2) until it is next time for them to go to work.
Fact three: If they are committed to using time, money and energy, why not do something that genuinely contributes to a solution.
Maybe they could, as a group, make, distribute and install insulation. Free of charge. Into the homes of people who need it. The poor. Those in energy poverty. The elderly who keep their houses like saunas because they are old and that's what they do. Go through neighbourhoods patching doors, double-glazing windows, stopping draughts. Repair and replace boilers. Give away energy efficient light bulbs. Install solar-panels on the rooves. There are so many options. And I'd imagine the "targets" would, in general, be far more thankful, appreciative and receptive than the targets at the Heathrow camp.
And you'll probably get positive coverage.
Because inconveniencing people isn't a good way of gaining sympathy.
When an important letter is lost or delivered late because of a postal strike, my thoughts aren't with the poor posties in their quest for better pay and conditions. My thoughts are annoyance at the bloody unions who are playing their power games. And I sympathise with management for having to deal with such nonsense.
But why strike? All that happens is that the workers lose pay, and I'd be surprised if strikes often had the effect of getting the workers much more than they would have got otherwise. Why not do something a little more creative. Like work to deliver all mail as if it was one class up. So, for example, treat a first class post like it was guaranteed next day delivery; treat a second class post like it is first class. Publicly announce that this is workers' policy. They will even work extra hours of their own accord as part of their protest. Why will this hurt management, you might ask? Because suddenly people know that, for as long as the action occurs, they can pay less for the service they want. Suddenly, revenue starts shrinking quite quickly and, while the workers' salary costs don't change, all the ancilliary costs of business go up because the workers are working longer, harder and doing more. (There are a couple more details, but there is probably enough to demonstrate the concept, and we can get bogged down going into the specifics).
Similarly, take the lecturers' strike last year, where lecturers were threatening not to set or mark exams. As well as being hard on the lecturers, it was quite hard on the students. Not a good idea if you want sympathy. So why not take the opposite tack. Something along the lines of, "We are warning the students in advance that the exams will be marked in a negative manner. You will start on full marks, and for each mistake we find, you will lose marks." And, of course, let it be well known that, if a satisfactory deal isn't reached, you won't be looking particularly hard (or at all) for mistakes. Students still need to study and do all the work in case it is resolved, so they have that warning. But suddenly the universities are scared. Because it officially devalues the degrees by having everyone scoring 100% on all subjects, regardless of whether they deserved high marks, a slight pass or failure. It would be far easier on the students than threatening to not set or mark exams, wouldn't it.
And, after all, the customer is always right!
Yes, there are holes in all three of the above suggestions. But they aren't insurmountable. And they certainly make a far bigger statement than inconveniencing the people whose sympathies you are trying to gain to further your cause and / or having a day off.
Comment from gelfen
it is a little-known fact that the intelligence of a mob is equal to the IQ of its most stupid member divided by the number of people.
My favourite procrastinations
The Head Heeb - Jonathan provides a balanced view on various Israeli and (former) colonial states in less developed regions of the world.
The Bladder - a sports satire site. Well worth a look.