Monday, 17 March 2008

Digital protesting vs physical protesting

It’s the fifth anniversary since the start of the Iraq war, or at least it will be on Thursday. No doubt you will have caught one program in the plethora of Iraq, ‘where are we now, that’s right, just showing you this so you can keep tabs,’ season.

I went on a, what should have been called ‘Leave the Middle East alone, they all cool’ rally but was in fact called, the less catchy, 'Troops out of Afghanistan, Iraq, don’t attack Iran and stop the oppression of the Palestinian people’ rally. Phew. I think my name is better. Anyway, it was a miserable day, raining and freezing but there was still a pretty good turn out.

Speeches were made, some better than others. I took particular offence at a speech given by ‘the girl that organized all dem walk outs at schools before the invasion and ting.’ She sounded as if she’d just been pushed out on stage rambling on about, ‘nukes were bad and so was America, yeah, that’s right, cos, eeer, um, they’ve got like a military industrial complex init.’

That evening I had a discussion about the effectiveness of public protests. I went on the million people march before the war and here we are reflecting on the five-year anniversary. Since that time, Green Peace, Amnesty and others have petitioned me via the interweb.

Click here to add your name to a petition to stop such and such. And lo, a few weeks later I’d receive an email explaining that the petition was a big success and bill x was passed in the House of Commons. Wow, direct, digital protest and it works.

Despite the meagre coverage the protest on Saturday got, having pictures of Parliament Square packed with protesters still makes the hairs on my hunch back stand up on end. The moment it looks like people don't care enough to take to the streets will be the day that those who have the power to change something will have nothing to convince them to do so. The only difference now is there are two mediums to get your protest across, each feeding the other. Protesting in the flesh is still more fun...for now

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