There is a time for protest. And a place.
But not both.
Take grouse shooting.
Some people consider it a hobby. Some even a way of life. Thousands of jobs depend on it, and it’s an industry that brings in tens of millions a year.
But if I go out with a bunch of like-minded souls and peacefully protest against grouse shooting, that’s fine.
If I can convince enough of my fellow citizens that grouse shooting is repugnant and has no part to play in civilised society, the number of people turning up each weekend to take part will dwindle and the sport will die a peaceful death. Unlike the grouse.
And if a month later, a different group go out and peacefully espouse the pleasures of grouse shooting, that’s fine too – if they can convince enough of their fellow countrymen that grouse shooting is an excellent way to spend an afternoon, grouse shooting will thrive.
Like the grouse.
And in a free and civilised country, this is how we do things – people are free to pursue activities that they enjoy, as long as they infringe on none of the legally-protected rights of anyone that might object to their activities (note here that “being upset” is not a legally-protected right, or all those crazy Klansmen would have a hell of a case against the black community!)
But here’s the problem.
If a group decides to protest against grouse shooting at a place where grouse shooting happens, while it’s happening? That’s not a protest.
That is intimidation.
Protest does not take place in the same location, at the same time, without having some rather hazy goals.
I would suggest that anyone wishing to protest against grouse shooting choosing to do so by going to a place where grouse shooters will gather, at the exact same time, is not really looking to make a peaceful point.
They are looking to generate conflict and maybe even violence, that they can perhaps blame on their opponents.
They have a political agenda – to demonise grouse shooters and cause trouble. Maybe (like the Berkeley protestors last year) to prevent the event from taking place?
So how about this – if you want to peacefully protest against a particular activity, you can……….
a) Protest WHERE it happens, but not at the same time
b) Protest WHEN it happens, but not in the same place.
So if you want to protest against grouse-shooting on the moor, you have to do it when no-one is shooting there.
And if you want to protest while the shoot is actually happening, you have to be, ooooh let’s say at least ten miles away.
No, I know it won’t work – but next time you see a protest somewhere ask yourself why it had to happen THEN.
And next time you see one at a particular moment, ask yourself why it had to happen THERE.