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 by Jon Burras
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The Evolution of the "Protestor"
       We have come to see a rise in protest movements in the last several years that have led to much social unrest. Some of these protest movements have become extremely violent with innocent people being hurt or killed. Cities have been burned and destroyed, property has been damaged and chaos has ensued.
       From the Boston Tea Party to the American Revolution, America was born on the backbone of protestors. Protesting has been an integral part of our evolution as we have used civil uprising to force change. The right to assemble has been written into our Constitution and is an important part of our collective freedoms.
       The sad reality is that the art of protesting has changed in recent years. With the advent of social media, political correctness and a drama plagued mainstream media, the average protestor in today's climate is not your grandfather's protestor anymore. Far-reaching shifts have occurred in protest movements and in protestors themselves. We are seeing a new generation of protest movements and there are many things to be concerned about.
       The new generation of protestor is quite different from those of the past. He might be more interested in the excitement and adrenaline of protesting rather than the actual cause itself. He is often one who is a conduit of blame and victim consciousness, taking little self-responsibility for his own actions. He is more interested in directing blame than in formulating an action plan of change. If he would spend just as much energy trying to be successful rather than blaming others he might see an entirely different outcome.
       The current protestor is impulsive and unsophisticated. Today's protestors often seemed "dumbed" down and operate from a frenzied emotionally charged hysteria rather than basing their protests on substance and fact. For example, the 2015 riots and protests in Ferguson, Missouri were based on emotional frenzy and on little fact. A white police officer had shot to death a young black man. Before the investigation could even begin about why all of this had happened the streets were on fire and chaos had erupted. Protestors had no facts to back up their protests. This emotional frenzy is like a group of piranhas swarming around a deer carcass. After the investigation was complete, it was revealed that the white police officer was completely justified in his actions.
       Often protestors operate from a low level of analytical thought and wildly exaggerated untamed emotion. They are easily swayed by social media posts of gossip driven media reports. The media will create news and gossip by choosing which stories to pay attention to. The media is often at the forefront of the protest movement as it uses short video bites to play on the emotions of people who feel that they are the victims of injustice.
       Protestors will often choose to express their first amendment right to protest in many awkward ways. They will often protest against the right of someone else to have the right to free speech. Today's protestor does not realize the contradiction that free speech is granted to everyone. Just because someone has said something unpopular does not give you (the protestor) the right to prevent them from speaking. A protestor in today's climate has made a widely ridiculous claim that they can say whatever they want but nobody else is allowed to have free speech.
       Today's protestors are very good at demonizing and labeling others who disagree with them. Instead of the rational response to say that you do not agree with someone, a protestor will call someone names and label them, (demon, Nazi, racist, bigot etc.). By labeling someone, (usually without any evidence) you are saying that you have no strategy against this person and the only tool you have is to try to get others to demonize your enemy as well. Today's protestors have very little facts behind their arguments and demonizing those who oppose them is their only strategy.
       With the addition of social media and the Freedom of Information Act, protestors are often called to protests by emotionally driven but substance-less videos. Social media often spreads a protest movement with insightful rhetoric and little facts. Just like a room full of school children will often spread the cold virus, social media often quickly spreads an inflammatory image. The Freedom of Information Act allows media companies access to government videos and documents, and without clear facts and completed investigations, the media can now incite a riot.
       The protestors of this generation do not seem to need facts to back up their actions. Today's protestor just follows along with the current societal trend that most are not willing to wait for anything-including the truth. Protestors will protest with only partial stories being handed out and with misinformation often being common. Today's protestor shows the impulsiveness of a two year old guarding a cookie jaw full of cookies.
       In the past, protestors had well-established criteria and a treasure chest of facts in order to back up their protests. During the 1960's and 1970's, common phrases like "End the War" and "Equal Rights for Women" were chanted throughout the land. There was no ambiguity because you knew what the protests were all about. Today's protestors appear to be unfocused, uninformed while speaking in code with just an excitement driven agenda and little substance. These modern day protestors are more excited about belonging to a movement than actually knowing what the movement is about.
       Protestors are not usually protesting against what you think they are protesting against. They might have an entire bucket of disgruntled issues that they have put a lid on. For instance, a teacher might have given them a poor grade on a test in third grade and they are still angry about the injustice. They might have been kicked out of the Boy Scouts for using foul language and they are still holding a grudge against authority figures. Their bicycle might have been stolen at the age of ten and they developed a mistrust for society. A traffic ticket given to them when they were sixteen years old created a disdain for police officers. There was no father in their home growing up and they lacked the structure and support to feel good about themselves.
       When we look at protestors we often wish to believe that the rally they are attending is what they are protesting about. Most often it is not. The cause in front of them gives them an excuse to open up their bucket filled with all of their unexpressed wounds and dump it out on society. This is no different than a worker going crazy and shooting up the office and killing several people. Most often the office environment is just the surface tension that allows someone to open up the bucket of unexpressed anger that they have kept the lid on. Protestors are no different. Protestors are just taking the lid off all of their old wounds and dumping it out. One could say that most protestors really need a solid dose of therapy or Dr. Phil (television talk show therapist) to undercover why they are so disgruntled.
       The new age of protestor has emerged with far more dignity and respect than often warranted. The modern day protestor has turned into a "Robin Hood" kind of figure, somehow becoming a beacon for the poor and underprivileged while rallying against the "evil society." The protestor has become an iconic figure, like the fair maiden or the swashbuckling adventurer. Protestors are often not much different than internet hackers, credit card thieves, drug cartel leaders and foul language rappers, often viewed with awe by members of the underclass as heroes and voices for those without a voice. Others see protestors with a venomous rage as a bothersome scourge that lacks focus and is always intent on rallying against some cause, no matter what that cause might be.
       Coincidently, the modern day protestor has emerged through a more coddled culture, where children receive trophies just for participation in sports, where adults are not allowed to discipline their children due to fear of child abuse and where a protestor is more like a spoiled child than a freedom fighter. He is allowed to break many laws in order to have his voice heard and police departments are afraid to exert too much force to curtail protestors. Protestors routinely block city streets and intersections, walk across freeways while throwing rock , bottles and fire bombs at police. The modern day protestors, often rallying against alleged laws broken, will most often break many laws themselves, including rushing a stage of a public speaker, throwing punches, throwing rocks and bottles, taking over intersections, blocking streets, walking on freeways etc. While the Constitution grants us the right to assemble, this ancient document does not say that you are allowed to assemble in the middle of a busy intersection or on a fast moving freeway. When do we have a protest against protestors?   Police departments are often told to back off and allow the protestors to express themselves. How much more coddling do you need?
       We are living in the age of entitlement that transcends the Millennial Generation. Major league baseball players think that it is okay for their young children to hang out with them in the dugout or on the field during a baseball game or practice. Professional basketball players believe that they can parade around their young child at a press conference after a big win. The child squirms around and makes everyone laugh but certainly the air of professionalism has left the building. All hell would break lose if every reporter covering the event were allowed to have his children with him during the interview.
       Protestors often are granted this same sense of entitlement by being able to do whatever they want and go wherever they want because everyone is afraid to tell them "No." Here we have more examples of a coddled culture.
       This generation of protestors seems inspired by aging and frustrated college professors as well as civil rights leaders with their own wounded souls and agendas who never felt heard through their protests of the 1970's and 1980's. They are able to inspire naive young men and women who might not truly understand the issues they are protesting about. Most would not be able to answer if you asked a modern day protestor to articulate "in detail" what he is protesting about and the facts behind his reasoning. You would hear a catch phrase slogan and little more with very little substance to back up his agenda. Today's protestors believe that if they just yell loudly and crank up the volume that there message will be heard.
       Most protestors have no idea what they are actually protesting about. They are often caught up in the social media frenzy of excitement addiction and anarchy. If you asked someone from the "Black Lives Matter" movement to articulate their argument most could not. Are black lives more important than Asian lives, Hispanic lives or Caucasian lives? Are black lives just as important as the lives of other races? Why wouldn't black lives be important? Are you protesting against the "black on black" violence in many inner cities? Why do you believe that we don't think that black lives matter? Are you protesting against the high crime rate among blacks? Are you protesting that you do not trust the system? Are you protesting that you will not submit to the authority of police officers and that you believe that all police officers are evil? Do not believe that the judicial system is unfair? Do you believe that white police officers have an agenda against young black males? Do you know that each year more white males are killed by police officers than black males?
       When a group speaks in code with unfettered emotional rage and little substance it is very difficult for others to support them. They might have more support if such groups were clear and articulate in their message. Catch phrases and code words might look nice at a rally or on television but it does little for a cause. If most people do not know what the code phrase stands for they will less likely support your cause.
       Nobody is saying that we need to clamp down on protests. However, the manner in which protests occur needs to change. If you are a protestor then go to a city park to have your protest, educate yourself about your cause and the language that you use to present yourself. Get off the streets and stop the violence. Get your facts straight and stop labeling people because you do not agree with them.
Be prepared for the consequences of your actions. You started this but the police will end it. Water canons, tear gas, billy clubs and other tools have always been used to calm riots. What would you do if protestors are locking arms, lying down in the middle of the street and refusing to obey police officers? How long are you willing to wait them out?
       It seems like we are in the midst of a Boston Tea Party revolt every day now with protestors filling streets and venues across the land. The difference is that protestors of the past were very focused and clear in their message. The Boston Tea Party was a very clear message and it had very little to do with tea. Today's protests carry very little truth with them while being run by exaggerated emotion. Today's modern day protest might achieve very little because modern day protestors are very unfocused and unsophisticated in how to protest.
How to be a Successful Protestor
1. Stay out of the street.
Your right to protest ends where the bumper of my car begins. If you are blocking traffic and not allowing me to get to where I need to go or causing other threatening actions, like rocking cars or threatening drivers, than I am surely not going to be aligning myself with your cause.
2. Stop speaking in code
If you use code words and code phrases than most likely others will have a hard time supporting your cause. Make your message clear.
3. Be articulate about your cause
Stay home and play video games if you cannot have a bullet point sheet about what you believe in and can articulate it clearly. What can be more pathetic than watching a protestor being interviewed who has little knowledge about the protest movement and only can vent the catch phrase for the cause.
4. Stop the violence
People will not listen to you if you are violent. Violence only shuts down dialog and you will get nowhere fast.
5. Be aware of the consequences
The act of protest is an act of civil disobedience. Pepper spray, rubber bullets, water canons, tasers and other police measures may be used against you in order to curtail the chaos that you started.
6. Allow others to have their freedom of speech
Don't be a moron. If you have the right to free speech than so does everyone else. You may not like what others say but you do not have the right to prevent them from speaking.
7. Have facts to back up your case
If you do not have any facts to back up you case then go home. Too many protests are based on emotionally charged video bites that the media has played. Most protestors have very little facts and are just dumping their emotions out on the street. They believe what they want to believe and have very little facts to back up their story. Most protestors are poor listeners and have already made up their minds about how things are.
8. Stop being impulsive
If you believe that something is unjust then wait until a complete investigation has occurred before you protest. There is nothing more saddening to watch than most of our current protests that occur before all of the facts come in.
9. Have a plan
Ralph Nader was a very powerful force because he was able to create change with a well devised plan. He was able to target companies and create boycotts of their products by millions of people. Companies were forced to change because they were losing so much money. Have a plan on how to achieve your goals.
10. Be careful of who leads you
Many leaders of protest movements are worse than what people are protesting against. If you are protesting against alleged racism incidences than make sure that those who lead you are not racists themselves. So many modern day racism protests are being led by racists themselves and the cycle of racism just continues.
11. Educate yourself
There is a high level of ignorance among protestors. Most protestors are not very literate and do not know the actual meaning of the words they use to protest. If you label someone as a "racist" make sure you yourself know the actual definition and not just something that you or your group make up to fit your cause. If you label someone as being "anti-Semitic" than you better know the actual definition of the word. A good many protestors do not. If you call someone a "Nazi" then you better have proof. Very often words and labels are thrown around without any proof of what is being said.
12. Stop the double speak
Often protestors are protesting against someone who they feel is judgmental against others. Aren't these protestors doing the same thingóbeing judgmental. It is common for protestors to act exactly like those who they are trying to protest against by being violent and judgmental. When it comes to protesting, many believe that two wrongs will still make a right.
13. Get some therapy
Find out why you are still so angry. Stop blaming outside influences for your emotions and begin to look deep within for the wounds you are still holding onto. Every time you react to a current event you are only triggering an unexpressed wound in yourself.