Methinks thou doth protest too much and bathe too little.

December 21, 2009

There is a one-sheet for Battle in Seattle displayed in the window of Napier’s United Video store. It is a fictional account of the 1999 rallying of so-called “activists” against a meeting of the World Trade Organization in that Washington state city. Because it opened commercially in Vancouver, I will need to view the movie. Some day.

The six o’clock news shows protesters clashing with Danish police during the Copenhagen climate summit. I watch with glazed eyes and dulled senses until the microwave oven beeps to tell me dinner’s ready.

My one thought? All those long-haired, freaky protesters look alike to me. I wish I had their money so I could afford to fly around the world hurling rubbish bins through plate-glass windows. That’s my kind of job. Plus you don’t have to worry about little time-consuming chores interfering with your protest march. Things like, oh, showering, for instance. Or washing your clothes.

Kiwis of a certain age wear the 1981 Springbok Tour protest like a badge of honour, as if they personally brought apartheid to its knees. Or maybe they were just thrilled to see themselves on TV. Either or.

I’ve never been much for protesting. Oh, sure, if you were to start slaughtering baby seals on my front lawn, I might knock rather vigorously on the window. And if you decided Starbucks should be shut down for cruelty to coffee beans, then you and I are going to be stepping outside.

The closest I’ve come to a demonstration was in 1980 when Caligula opened in a Vancouver theatre and Brother #1 and I ventured in from the boonies to see us some nekkid wimin.

We were met by a group of placard-waving nutbars clogging up the sidewalk in front of the box office, intent on pointing out that a simple reel of celluloid was going to despoil every single human being for generations to come. Their bleating didn’t deter us from purchasing tickets but, just before we entered the cinema, I spotted a photographer from one of the Vancouver dailies taking a shot of a youngster sporting a protest sign.

I got in the shooter’s face and said something along the lines of, “Make sure you mention that they’re using children to do their dirty work.”

His only response was a grimace that basically said, “Bugger off.”

I shrugged and went inside to have my soul destroyed. Funny thing: I emerged a couple hours later, blinking in the sunlight, with my soul perfectly intact. The cameras had vanished and so too, interestingly enough, had the protesters. The photo of the child was never printed. All that effort, and for what?

You could call me lazy. Or apathetic. Or disinterested. Or a blinkered fool. You could say I’m sitting on my arse while the world dies around me. And you’d be wrong on all counts.

You see, I don’t believe you get a politician’s attention by standing by the trough and screaming yourself hoarse while he buries his snout in perks bought and paid for with your tax money. No, you get their attention by taking away the trough.

If you don’t like the way the world is being run, then you run the world. Step up or step away. Do something or stop bitching.

It’s as simple as that.

These professional anarchists are going to die on the same pollution-choked, rich-get-richer, Nuke a Gay Whale for Jesus planet as me. No amount of stone throwing or cop-baiting or blatant vandalism is ever going to change that.

The difference is, I’m going to go out with some degree of dignity. Those who incite riots for a living? Not so much.


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