I have long thought that poeple who said things like "I stood up for what I believed. I wrote a letter to somebody" or "I fought for gay rights by disagreeing with a homophobe on the internet!" or "I spoke truth to power by signing a petition to..." were morons.
To me, any form of protest that involves either sign-waving or strongly-worded-emails is nearly a laughable waste of time.
Now Bill Maher has gone and written an awesome column about this phenomenon as applied to the Obama-doesn't-wear-an-American-flag-pin controversy, a controversy, I should note, that I have never actually heard of but that I can easily imagine.
Before people ask, here are a few examples of non-pointless ways to change the world.
1. Vote, and research your local candidates carefully before doing so.
2. Read, become informed about both sides. If you can't answer the question "why might a reasonable person disagree with me on this?" Then you have not done your homework sufficiently to be talking about a controversial issue. Don't make me have the Head Start converstion with you.
3. Talk to actual people about actual issues, listen to people who disagree with you.
4. Quit asking the government to be the change you want to be.
5. Set an example of how you want other people to behave. Don't want people to be jerks? Then don't be a jerk. I am constantly amazed at how often people miss this, to me obvious, point. When you see someone treating others badly and treat them badly in return, you do not teach them the lesson that treating other people beadly has negative consequences. If anything, you teach them that treating people badly is acceptable behavior. After all, everybody's doing it. Two wrongs don't make a right. Duh.
6. Don't come up with a pretentious name for what you're doing. Please don't fight for freedom, speak truth to power or kick ass. Just think about things, talk to people and try to figure out solutions to problems.
7. People are watching you. Set a good example. Behave the way you want your opponents to behave.
8. Don't sacrifice the good in a quest for the perfect.
9. Don't alienate people from your cause unnecessarily. I do not vote for people like me, I want people who are smarter than me running the country. But lots of people do like to vote for people like themselves and support causes supported by people like themselves.
OK, back to my homework...