Friday, December 21, 2007

If you simply must protest...

I don't recall that I explicitly wrote about how embarassed I was at last year's Global Warming protest during the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in Portland. Something about coming to someone else's city, a city that is better environmentally than many of the cities we live in, and holding a protest march just because we are there and we are UUs and UUs like to hold protest marches, really irritated me.*

I am only slightly more ambivalent about the people who are planning protests about the "government-issued ID" issue in Fort Lauderdale. While the theoretical basis for the protest makes more sense on its face, the regulation everybody's protesting comes from the Department of Homeland Security. It's not like the people of Fort Lauderdale had anything to do with enacting it. Indeed, they probably hate it since I'm sure all conventions hate it and it is probably bad for the local economy. (You think GA's coming back to Fort Lauderdale anytime soon? Neither is anybody else, I'm guessing.) So basically you are afflicting the afflicted by protesting as you snarl their traffic and yell at them on their way to work. They didn't get to vote on this, it was imposed on them by DHS, so annoying ordinary Floridians about it is just stupid.

But you know, there is an issue, arguably closer to the hearts of UUs, where the Floridians who have our values could use some help.

When you heard about the guy in Florida who murdered his children, his ex-wife and her lover, you may have noticed that he had custody of the kids despite his threats on his ex-wife's life. "Gee," you might have thought to yourselves, "what sort of crazy state looks at a choice between an unstable, murder-threatening, whackjob and a lesbian, and gives child custody to the whackjob?"

Duh? Florida.

Florida is, as far as I know, the only state in the union with a straight-up ban on gay adoption.

You know those Domestic Partnership benefits Disney gives that the Baptist church hates so much? Well, local governments and large universities have been following the trend. But now there's an anti-gay marriage amendment to the Florida constitution up for a vote that will stop the public sector institutions from offering those. That almost makes me want to draw up a sign. Well, almost.

So yeah, if you believe that protests can make a difference in this day and age, and I don't really, at least you can put your arguably wasted efforts toward influencing people actually making a decision about something important as opposed to further bothering people who had a decision imposed upon them.

CC

* As a Washingtonian, functionally, I do understand why people come to my city from other places to protest things and I don't mind that at all. (OK, I don't mind it as long as protest groups clean up after themselves and refrain from blocking off streets and otherwise taking their righteous anger out on people just trying to get to work in the morning.) But yeah, if you're not going to be making an ass of yourself, come to DC. And let me know you're coming. I make a mean Chicken Marsala...

20 comments:

fausto said...

Great point. Thanks.

Elizabeth said...

I very much appreciate your common sense take on this sort of thing. I really am having a hard time understanding the outrage over this. As if there are not better places to be putting our energy. Geesh.

Robin Edgar said...

"Gee," U*Us might have done well to think for yourselves, "what sort of crazy "church" looks at a choice between an intolerant and abusive anti-religious bigot of a U*U minister and a complainant, and gives carte blanche the anti-religious bigot?"

Since very few U*Us have bothered to think for themselves about that I guess I will just have to continue my protest against U*U injustices, abuses and hypocrisy in front of the Unitarian Church of Montreal. I dare say that U*Us quite regularly make asses out of themselves in their foolish responses to my protests. And yes, Montreal U*Us and the UUA have had plenty of opportunity to vote on it. . .

Chalicechick said...

Robin, I hope you get a sense of perspective for Christmas.

CC

kim said...

Robin -- Do you know that most decisions are made on an emotional basis and not a rational one?

kim said...

CC -- I got an email from a friend about that boycott because of the "security" measures. It was the first I'd heard of it, and it's good to get your perspective on it. I believe I will send a copy of your comment to my friend.
We are now guardians of a sixteen year old girl from Florida. Her father is contesting it, and is expecting the court here in California to be sympathetic to his objections to a same-sex couple. HA!

Robin Edgar said...

I already have a very good sense of perspective CC. Maybe you and other U*Us could benefit getting a sense of *principle* for Christmas. I was making a point about principles, U*U and otherwise.

Yes, Kim I do know that most foolish U*U decisions are made on an emotional basis and not a rational one. That has been pretty obvious from the very beginning. . . It is most regrettable, and to the ongoing shame and detriment of the so-called U*U World, that today`s "Unitarians" are so averse to using good old Unitarian reason in their decision making processes. If U*Us had used reason in their decision making process this conflict would have been satisfactorily resolved over a decade ago. . . I might add that it would appear that emotion trumped reason in Rev. Diane Rollert`s deeply misguided decision to seek a restraining order against me on grounds that are far from reasonable.

Robin Edgar said...

Come to think of it. Rev. Diane Rollert could definitely use a sense of perspective, to say nothing of principle, herself. . . The Canadian criminal law that she is cynically misusing in her far from rational effort to force an end to my peaceful public protest in front of the Unitarian Church of Montreal seems to be intended to protect people from offenders who have a proven track record of violence. I have been completely non-violent throughout my decade long protest, even when I have been threatened and assaulted by U*Us. The "guy in Florida who murdered his children, his ex-wife and her lover" was a far more worthy candidate for such a restraining order than I am or am ever likely to be. Rev. Diane Rollert might want to consider how she is going to feel is some guy in Québec murders his children, his ex-wife and her lover because her spurious attempt to seek a restraining order delays the Québec court from granting one that is genuinely warranted. . . Rev. Diane Rollert has no "reasonable grounds" to fear that I will commit a "serious personal injury offence" against her or anyone else but there are other people in Québec who most certainly do have "reasonable grounds" to fear that someone will commit a "serious personal injury offence" against them and Diane Rollert`s spurious demand for such a restraining order may well delay them from obtaining what they genuinely need. Has any U*U given any rational thought to that?

Robin Edgar said...

Read it and weep for U*U principles and a disturbing dearth of U*U reason. . .

hafidha sofia said...

I must be missing the outrage about the security measures at FL; I keep hearing about it, but haven't met anyone or heard any aggressive feelings about it.

In general - as much as I avoid protests (for a variety of reasons), I don't see them as annoying or traffic snarlers. I think they're an important tool for "the people" to see each other, and organize. They aren't the only tool, but they are a tool - and one with a strong foundation in our American history.

Comrade Kevin said...

Protests in good sense are fine in my book, but they ought to be used sparingly. It seems to me that leading by example, volunteering to help the poor, enriching the world around you through creating art, and a variety of other such individual responses are far more effective behaviors.

Chalicechick said...

The roots of my dislike of protests probably come from most of a lifetime in and near DC where we see a lot of them. (And they do snarl traffic, and they do cost the city a lot of money in security and cleanup*, and asshat anarchists do "direct action" damage to my city.)

I've attended dozens and witnessed hundreds and I've never seen a protest that made me want to join a cause I wasn't invested in beforehand. (I have occaisionally been sufficiently intimidated by a protestor getting in my face to pretend I cared about the cause until I had gotten away from the person, but no protest has ever made a lasting impact on my views about anything.) My guess is I'm pretty typical on that.

One of the most recent protests I attended was the massive pro-choice March for Women's lives and when I thought about all the good Planned Parenthood could have done for poor women with the money people spent attending and putting the march on, the idea depressed me.

CC

*Some organizations pay for this, but lots don't.

kim said...

Robin -- I didn't say anything about UU decisions, just most decisions. I don't think UUs are any more or less rational than other people. Why do you?

Robin Edgar said...

Because U*Us have been stunningly irrational in their decisions regarding me and still are. Lots of people I know are far more rational than most of the U*Us I know. I just dealt with an irrational U*U Type A* personality tonight.

*for asshole

So CC and Kim what do you think of this considerably less than rational asshat U*U "Citizens` Police Officer" aka vigilante doing "direct action" damage to my picket signs? To say nothing of snarling traffic and costing my city a fair bit of money in numerous unneccessary police interventions.

For the record, one of the most idiotic protests that U*Us have ever engaged in has to be when a dozen or more members of the Unitarian Church of Montreal counter-protested against me in a so-called "Positive Picketing Campaign".

Robin Edgar said...

Oops. Forgot to add the link to the asshat U*U "Citizens` Police Officer".

kim said...

Robin -- If you think UUs are so much more irrational than the common run of humans, why do you expect them to behave rationally? Isn't that irrational of you?

James Andrix said...

Robin: Your first real statement on this thread contained a piece of emotional rhetoric as a premise. That premise is factually false.
You are spreading false propaganda.

How did you determine that few UU's have thought for themselves on this issue? Is it because they disagree with you?

Or did you knowingly spread false propaganda?

Robin Edgar said...

Not at all James aka the indrax troll. My first real statement effectively asserted that U*Us have failed to think for themselves, "what sort of crazy "church" looks at a choice between an intolerant and abusive anti-religious bigot of a U*U minister and a complainant, and gives carte blanche the anti-religious bigot?"

Since U*Us actually gave carte blanche to the anti-religious bigot I think I can quite justifiably assert that they probably never gave any serious though to just how crazy they would look to the general public in doing so. I expect that if former Ministerial Fellowship Committee director Rev. Diane Miller had stopped to think just how crazy she, and by extension the UUA. . . would look in pretending that Rev. Ray Drennan's intolerant and abusive clergy misconduct was "within the appropriate guidelines of ministerial leadership" that she might not have done so. And that is by no means the only crazy way that the UUA, and/or the Unitarian Church of Montreal, effectrively gave carte blanche to Rev. Ray Drennan's anti-religious intolerance and bigotry.

You really should not falsely accuse me of spreading false propaganda when I can point to numerous ways in which the UUA and Unitarian Church of Montreal quite regularly spread false propaganda.

James Andrix said...

I take it then that your 'Not at all' is in response to my question about knowingly spreading false propaganda, and that your answer to 'How did you determine that few UU's have thought for themselves on this issue? Is it because they disagree with you?' is yes.

Thanks for clearing that up.

Robin Edgar said...

I think that it is abundantly clear that bery few U*Us stopped tom think just how crazy they would look for giving carte blanche to Rev. Ray Drennan`s anti-religious intolerance and bigotry indrax. Had they given some thought to it they would not have given him carte blanche as they quite obviously have done. It might interest you to know that I once had a chat with the editor of a Montreal weekly newspaper who had spoken to the police about my protests in front of the Unitarian Church of Montreal within the context of writing an article about the situation. I asked him what the police thought of the situation and his response was, "They think the church is crazier than you are." I don`t think very many U*Us have any idea just how "crazy" many people think that U*Us are when it comes to how they have responded to my legitimate grievances and public protest against U*U injustices, abuses and hypocrisy.