Act Like You Know

2 Mar

Americans’ right to convene and protest is one of the more interesting clauses guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. The idea seems counter intuitive to running a successful enterprise. Imagine you worked for a company which allowed insubordination and encouraged disagreements, that company would probably cease to exist in short order. And yet the United States of America is founded on the principle that protesting and free speech insures an active and cognizant populace, and for some weird reason our forefathers deemed an informed citizenry to be a dutiful one, despite all historical evidence to the contrary.


Today, we have people who consider themselves “professional activists.” I have met some of these people. It’s impossible for me to stifle a chuckle at the idea of a “professional” activist, considering they don’t earn any money protesting, but I suppose it’s their ability to think outside the box of normal, accepted definition that makes them revolutionaries and me a brainwashed plebe. In any case, a professional activist is someone who makes it their business to attend and foment protests. The protests could be about anything, really, but they will usually conform to an activist's general political bent. Meaning you'll probably see the same professional activists at an anti-war rally as you would at a gun control rally.


It makes me think of the lines from Rebel Without a Cause: “‘What are you rebelling against?’ ‘What do you got?'” The point of a protest, I believe, is that it should shake things up a little, put average people on alert and the oppressors on notice with swollen ranks of concerned citizens. A protest should not, I think, include some shirtless dude impressing teenage chicks with Devil Sticks and some girl in multicolored dreadlocks screaming inaudibly into a megaphone. The statement being made here is, “what we think doesn’t matter because we’re completely unemployable.” Professional activism has turned protesting into a commonplace thing, a meet-and-greet where people can clap each other on their tattooed backs and assert how much they’re changing the status quo, while mainstream society stays totally unaware of their existence.


There’s a game we play every four years here in America, it’s called the National Conventions. It all begins when either of our two relevant political parties announces which city they intend to hold their bacchanalian bash, where they’ll determine who will represent their platform in the campaign for President. Immediately, both the police of that city and professional activists nationwide begin to mobilize: the former to allocate more funds in order to hire more cops and buy more riot gear, and the latter plan to show up and cheese off the pigs with slogans and armpit funk. Once the event arrives, the cops allow the protesters some time to rant and rave, but when the Port-O-Potties start overflowing, police line up with their see-through shields and batons and push the crowd away. The protesters act indignant at their treatment (though many will be glad to have been arrested, making their professional status official), the police have justified their budgetary needs, everything goes on as normal. We get to do it all again at the other party’s national convention, then everyone has to wait for four years for the fun to start all over again.


And that’s the state of a lot of protesting, in my mind. A lot of self-serving, unwashed weirdos who want the whole world to know how angry they are. More of a tantrum, really. I don’t think this is what the framers of the Constitution had in mind, that people would protest anything and everything just because they could. These endless mini-protests, retarded mid-day marches by bored theater troupes and vitriol because the progressive bill passed by Congress just wasn’t progressive enough, they undermine the entire process. If you catch yourself attending more than two protest rallies per year that are about wildly different subjects, then you should probably evaluate your effectiveness. Some of that time protesting life’s unfairness could be spent, you know, working at a fucking job. I suspect that the definitions of both “fairness” and “professional” will change after such an experience.

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