I coined the term “hobby protest” to describe the type of protests where people take to the streets for seemingly minor issues and with seemingly ill defined goals. Occupy Wall Street (OWS) isn’t the first of them and it won’t be the last. What are some other examples?
One thing I wanted to avoid was the medias myopic view that the 1960’s protests were the watershed moment of the entire history of Western Civilization. (The media has never seen a protest that didn’t make them want to listen to Bob Dylan and talk about Woodstock.) I tried to think of centuries old (universal) examples of hobby protests. Possibly ones in different cultures and various locations. I couldn’t think of any. (Perhaps the Temperance movement? Luddites?)
The best I could do were all recent. Here are a few recent examples of hobby protests:
- Occupy Wall Street (2011): “We want uh…stuff. And rich people suck. So they should give us their money. The government sucks too…so it should give us more stuff. And the student loans we voluntarily took to study unmarketable subjects are huge so we shouldn’t have to pay them back.” (Aftermath: Nothing yet.)
- Greece (2011): “The government is out of money. We want to keep getting the stuff it’s been giving us. We’re going to break windows and burn cars until the government has more money and gives it to us.” (Aftermath: Burning cars has yet to generate more money for anyone.)
- Los Angeles Riots (1992): “Cops who beat up Rodney King were acquitted and that pisses off. We’re going to spend a week burning buildings and cars. We’ll also beat the shit out of an innocent trucker. Why? Because he’s white and somehow bludgeoning a man for his race makes up for racism.” (Aftermath: Several destroyed neighborhoods from fire, looting, and arson. Regionald Denny, who I think was the epitome of an innocent bystander was severely injured (as well as many others). Rodney King, regardless of the LAPD’s stupidity isn’t exactly a saint; since his 10 minutes of fame in ’92 he has been arrested in 1995 (90 day sentence), in 2003 he wrecked his car fleeing the police while drunk (broken pelvis), in 2007 he “innocently” received a shotgun wound, in 2011 he had two events (driving erratically without a license and later arrested for driving under the influence). Either Rodney King has the kind of luck that redefines mathematics or he’s a thug. If you’re going to riot to protect an innocent man this isn’t the Rosa Parks you’d hope for. Meanwhile the LA Police department started with a bad reputation at the time and now, big riot and decades later, still has a bad reputation.)
In my next post I’ll contrast with historic “serious protests”. These are a lot more powerful, and dangerous, than hobby protests.