The 4 Worst Reactions To The Women's March
On Saturday, well over a million people across the United States participated in the Women's March. And then hundreds of thousands of your friends and family went on Facebook and Twitter to explain why protesting is terrible and will never accomplish anything. I've been reading these kinds of remarks for years and have recently concluded that anyone who writes them has never been within 100 yards of an actual protest.
Now, I'm no "Jerry Protests-a-Lot," but I think I like it more than most people because one time I took my birthday off from work to go counterprotest the protesters protesting Planned Parenthood. Some of the protests I've been a part of have gotten out of hand, some have seemed like they were going to get out of hand but didn't, and some (like Saturday's) have stayed peaceful the entire time. There are a few things the people who protest protests from their Facebooks don't realize, so let's unpack some of those dumb arguments, like...
"Protesters Are All Just A Bunch Of Whiny 'Special Snowflakes'"
I believe it was The Blaze's latest doofy provocateur Tomi Lahren who invented the term "special snowflake," which refers to the type of whiny baby doodoo heads that don't have any reason to protest but are protesting anyway because they just want attention. "Why do you need to protest?" Tomi Lahren probably said, "Women have had the right to vote for like 15 years or something! What more could you ever ask for, you silly snowflakes? Careful you don't turn the heat up too much, snowflakes, because even when you wad yourself into a snowball of protest, you'll still end up melting when summer rolls around."
(Hey Tomi if you like my take on your voice give me a call I'm always looking for extra work and I have no convictions or integrity so we'd probably get along pretty well.)
Plus we're both Aryan AF.
And it's true: the protesters were a bunch of babies. Like these adorable little snowflakes:
Save that sign, because when you're a senator it can go in a museum.
Or this one, from Canada:
This sign maybe you can throw away.
Or Mary Tanasse, an 87-year-old special snowflake with terminal cancer whose family pushed her through the march on her wheelchair. Her children called her "their matriarch" and when interviewed, she explained, "I asked them, please let me live until this march because it's so important to me to model what I feel is right for my family."
Hey, real quick -- what's that thing that happens when a bunch of special snowflakes collect in one place and get pissed off?
I'm sure it's not important and doesn't completely ruin this stupid buzzword or anything.
Everyone who disapproves of the Women's March, or the people who protested the inauguration, will start their arguments with "I support your right to protest, unless," and then they add some unachievable ideal: "unless anyone involved destroys any property whatsoever" or "unless you disrespect the people who disagree with you," or "unless even one single Nazi gets punched."
I am referring, of course, to the guy who clocked Richard Spencer, a well-known something-or-other who describes himself as "alt-right," which is Nazi for "Nazi."
As you probably know, that incident set off a fiery and condescending internet debate that The New York Times summarized as "Is it O.K. to Punch a Nazi?" At first I was really conflicted about this debate, because. I had an interesting discussion about it on fucking Twitter, somehow (Twitter, I'm sorry I doubted you). But then I realized that this entire debate is stupid and it doesn't matter.
Protests are here to stay because they're effective and fun. Nazis are here to stay because ignorance and hate are tough ailments to shake, apparently. So it stands to reason that, eventually, another Nazi will get punched at a protest. But it's not actually that important. Discussing a Nazi getting punched by an anonymous Nazi-puncher when behind them is a massive demonstration against the sitting president of the United States is like worrying about the ammonia level in your fish tank while your friends battle acid-blooded aliens (from Aliens) in your living room.
Dude. Forget about your fucking Betta.
The fact of the matter is a couple million people across the entire country gathered to express their outrage at the government and, collectively, did less damage than a gang of drunk Red Sox fans or the average Cracked writer on a Thursday night. These are people who have had their humanity questioned and their personal physical safety threatened by the leader of the free world. I don't know how you can find their restraint anything less than inspiring, to be frank.
We can't let the conversation about protests be about one or two or a dozen people's mistakes, because people are constantly making various mistakes -- sometimes they atone for them, sometimes they don't. If you don't take a step back, get some context, and look at the whole picture, then you're gonna get eaten by a goddamn alien.
"Protesters Are There To Create Chaos"
This is sort of a reiteration of the last point, but I think it's really important.
Let's think about this mathematically. They say "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned," and there were 750,000 people in Los Angeles last Saturday. I'd say about 75% of them were women, which means that's 562,500 scorned women. Following that logic, downtown LA was subject to 562,500 times the fury of hell, or 562.5 kilofuries. Wait -- I forgot to factor in that the scorn of a woman is worse than anything hell has at its disposal. That proverb is not as useful as I hoped it would be. I guess we'll have to estimate that it's just a boatload of fury, right?
Avert your eyes, for this fury is too grotesque.
And yet I attended and somehow I survived. Not due to my masculine resilience, but because the fury of all these "scorned women" seemed to mostly manifest itself in supporting each other, inspiring each other, and sharing surprisingly clever pop-culture references.
"Hey!" I shouted, "want a job?"
Then I remembered that I'm not important enough to make those decisions ever since I tried to hire my drug dealer as my personal assistant.
In my experience, people who are getting really violent at protests tend to get calmed down, or restrained and sent home, by other protesters.
But I also know my experience, and Saturday's country-wide peaceful vibe, isn't universal. So let's look at the big picture: Is there a trend of protesters getting violent? Turns out no: In a comprehensive analysis of Occupy Wall Street protests in 192 U.S. cities, UC Berkley found that when protests turn violent, it's usually the police's fault. The study isn't saying that the cops are picking fights on purpose or that they're strategically trying to make things become violent. It's just saying that police culture has moved in weird, unhealthy directions, and that by adopting "military formations" and carrying an AR-15 around a bunch of nonviolent protesters, those protesters tend to get upset, because guns are fucking scary to anyone who knows what they do and how they work.
Yeah, just a quick aside here, as a proud gun owner: downplaying people's fear of guns doesn't make you look tough, it makes you look like you don't have any experience with guns outside of video games.
"I'm not scared of guns because my life is so easy that I have no need for survival instincts!"
I'm gonna be accused of being anti-cop in the comments, but I'm not -- I'm anti-violence. Protests are emotional things, by nature, and our country is built on their tradition. Everybody has a responsibility to keep them from resulting in injuries and death -- both the protesters and the cops. So if you find yourself, in every single instance, blaming one particular side for when things got bad, I guarantee you're not seeing the whole picture (particularly if that side is the one that doesn't have guns). And you can tweet as many photos of angry protesters spray-painting cop cars as you want, but at the end of the day, science tells a more complete story that is also, incidentally, more sympathetic to everybody than any partisan rant.
Weird how that works out -- it's like there aren't all that many evil people in the world, or something.
"Protests Never Accomplish Anything"
This is the big one, and it basically goes: "Yeah but, like, why? Why go to protests? Why gather in a group? That's not how our government works, you see -- we have voting and elected officials. All you're doing is blocking traffic and irritating people. What role does a protest even have in a democracy, where the people already rule?"
It's by far the most common critique of protests I hear. Sometimes it even happens at the protests themselves: While I was in downtown LA at an anti-Steve Bannon rally last November, someone rolled by in a BMW (a 750Li, no less, because these people have zero self-awareness), leaned out his window and shouted "What do you think you're doing? What? What can you possibly accomplish by doing this?"
I'm not gonna take any lip from a guy whose shifter knob has a touch-screen.
He drove away before I could answer, which is rude (what were you accomplishing by asking a question and not waiting for an answer, dipshit?), but if he had hung around I would've said this:
We're reminding each other that we fucking exist. Protesters aren't a different species of human or lazy assholes with no jobs. I haven't worked fewer than 70 hours a week since my sophomore year of college, and every single person I know who protests is similarly neurotic. We get lost in our own personal and professional shit just like everyone else, and start taking things for granted. And then something like Trump's presidency or the loss of a friend to something stupid comes along, and we look around and say "What in the rickety handbasket of hell happened? I'm busting my ass to fuel this economy, this country, and this is the direction our captain is driving it in?" In those moments we feel like it's just us against America. And it's disheartening. You don't want to go to work, you don't want to have fun with your friends, you just wanna drink cheap whiskey and play tearful Streetlight Manifesto covers on your guitar really, really loud until your neighbors knock on your door and say "If you don't stop playing 'We Will Fall Together' I am going to cut out and eat your eyeballs in a special eyeball gumbo that I am right now preparing on my stove. You can probably smell it. Look at me. Look at me, Sargent. Do I look like I'm fucking with you?" (that last part might just be me).
Last Saturday I had the honor to march with some of the bravest, strongest, and smartest people I've ever met. They were in the streets everywhere from Los Angeles to Seattle to Olympia to Washington D.C. to Helena. And they were marching not just to remind the people in power that a sizable and powerful part of the country was upset, but to remind each other that they're all in this together with their wit and wisdom and funny signs, and that no matter how bad things get, they're full of love and they're not going to let each other down.
"What do they think they're doing?" Motherfucker, they already did it.
JF Sargent is a senior editor for Cracked and will gladly organize a protest for your birthday, bar mitzvah, or wedding. If you're in one of these pictures and would like your face unblurred or the image removed, contact him on Twitter or Facebook. Or just follow him, because it's his birthday today!
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