There is a great deal of hate in the world at the moment. It concerns me.
There was an incident that occurred, someone made a video that offended some people. Those people reacted badly to the video and protested. The protests became violent for various reasons. More protests happened and more people became offended. These people protested via the Internet and media and that offended more people. Can you see a pattern?
First of all, let us look at the triggering event. Someone gave an opinion about something they don’t believe in about someone else’s world views. Ok, nothing specifically wrong with that. People do this all of the time. There are things you can comment on fairly freely “what a warm day it is”, and things you need to be more careful about “your mother does interesting things with my genitals”. Both of these statements could be true, both could be false. The point is, that stating the first one is not likely to offend many people and is considered safe, so as a mature caring person I don’t have to be too careful about how I say it. The second is likely to offend pretty much anyone, so as a mature caring person I should be really careful about how I say it.
Yet you will always get half wits who will say pretty much anything to get a reaction, or because they have no idea of the consequences of their actions. We call these immature, self centred and should treat them like ignorant children. You do not punish an ignorant child, you inform them of the errors of their ways. You don’t do this with a stick, you do this with education. Follow the clearly demarked process of the system the person made the offensive remark. For example, if the offensive remark was made on YouTube, state in the comments that you find this offensive and ask the maker to rectify it, or make a counter video to correct the ignorance, or if this does not work, mark it as inappropriate and offensive, get all of your friends who are also offended to do the same. Now the person understands, or it is taken down and things return to fine.
What is not a correct way to protest such a thing is to make a very large tantrum in public. The result of this is to bring everyone’s attention to the offensive material. If you don’t want everyone hearing that are offended that your mother has done interesting things with someone’s genitals, whether true or not you know they will assume it is true, then perhaps publicity is not for you. If the process of complaint has not worked, you bring world recognition of the failure in the complaint process, not in the material you have been offended by. That brings the focus on the faulty process with the material being a side issue. There are always going to be ignorant offensive people in the world, a public tantrum is not going to fix that, but a pubic tantrum may resolve the system that allowed it to be kept online despite it’s offensive nature.
If you are going to protest, then think about the response you want to get from the public. It is the public opinion you are trying to change here, not anything else. You want the public to be on your side and pressure those who are failing to comply with what you want.
First look at what you want – if you want an offensive video taken off line, then that is going to be a fail. How many offensive video’s are there? Are you going to protest each one? No. What you want to protest is the failure in the system that has allowed this video to be there despite it’s offensive nature and your going through the correct procedure to ask it to be removed or corrected. Of course, this means you have to go through this procedure first…
Now do you want the public to be notified about the issue (the take down procedures), or your sub group (religion, culture, nationality) or you as an individual?
If it is about the procedure, then you make the point about the floor in the system and you protest loudly if you have few numbers, or quietly if you have many, but make sure the focus is on the problem. If you waver from this with either slogans that counter offend, or break down into violence, or protest the wrong issue, then you will not get a good solution. Instead the focus will be on the group of protesters and publicising the offensive material that you want taken down. A fail on both counts. You do not want people to equate the larger group that your sub group belongs to as violent, offensive or impractical. You do not want everyone in the world to assume the message you are protesting is true.
Those who were offended by the protests are just as guilty. You have done exactly the same thing in your protests that you are angry at them for doing. You have lost the issue, because it was too easy to hate the group. I have been part of some peaceful protests that the police rode through on a horse. The media made great example of the “violence of the protesters” despite the complete lack of violence. That is not to say that these protesters did or did not use violence, the point is, don’t get caught in the hype of media, instead look at the issue – someone made an offensive video and others were hurt by it. Forget the protesters or the culture/religion/ethnicity of them. It could be you trying to protest the extermination of the whales. You don’t want people to believe the hype about violent hippies, you want people to focus on the light of the whales. So you do the grown up thing and focus on the actual issue, not the poor media presentation, or your friends who have got themselves in quite a state badly protesting the way these people badly protested.
This incident is not isolated. I have seen it repeated very often.
I would like people to grow up just a little please. Learn, change, and use the system or protest the system, not the people, not the message.