I thought I could not possibly see a dumber protest than the pouring down the drain, by restauranteurs, bar owners and winos throughout Red America, of bottle after bottle after bottle of French wine a few weeks ago. An empty gesture, I urged my “Freedom Fries”-eating comrades; the wine is already paid for, the French have your money, and you’re not even going to catch a buzz. Dumbest. Protest. Ever.
Or so thought. But now I think we have a tie.
I am told that some antiwar protesters in San Francisco have staged a “vomit-in” to graphically illustrate how “war makes them puke.” They appear to have ingested quantities of milk tinged with red food coloring and vomited in unison on some federal buildings! And this is supposed to be a dramatic gesture, bold and arresting. Which it might be if we can ever stop laughing at them.
The puke-a-thon is particularly amusing since, I am sure, many of these same people spend a lot of the rest of their time railing about America’s culture of conspicuous consumption and conspicuous waste, about mounds of disposable diapers in landfills, about excessive packaging, about the extra food that gets tossed out behind restaurants every day that could have gone to Food Not Bombs.
But these concerns are trivial compared to the chance to puke in front of a TV camera to protest a war that even now is setting a people free, removing a man who, let’s not forget, could have prevented all of this by just packing a suitcase and taking a vacation in Jordan, feeding villagers in Iraq their first proper meals (OK, MREs, but at least they’re nutritious)… I bet the residents of Safwan would love to show their gratitude to those San Franciscans who vomited untold gallons of milk on their behalf.
I know, I know, gestures like these feel good, draw publicity for the cause and bring people of like minds together. But there are so many more constructive things to do with the time and effort that goes into orchestrating such demonstrations of ire.
Don’t hate the media, become the media, Lydia Lunch once advised – and here we all are. Never again will news and information be a top-down, tightly controlled, one-way flow. We are all the media.
The same works for public policy. Every year in this country there are elections. Every year, these elections suffer from dearths of quality candidates, coherent and meaningful dialogue, constructive efforts, and voter turn-out.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
I sat for two years in my little ol’ hometown and griped and carped and pointed fingers before finally waking up to the reality that the only real way to effect change is to get my hands on the gavel. So I ran for office and got elected. I’m 33 years old, a baby in a town full of geezers, and it’s an uphill struggle every day to bring about meaningful change, but let me tell you, it’s a lot easier to make that struggle, and make it worthwhile, when you have the authority.
You can do it, too. It’s not a show.