Wednesday, September 09, 2009
But What is the Protest About?
Nothing on the banner is especially helpful, either. Although I've blurred out the name of the person on the banner, I did a quick Google search on the name to find out that the person at the center of the dispute is apparently an attorney of long-standing in the area. Other than "Labor Dispute," however, there is no indication what this attorney is believed to have done wrong. In fact, I found no obvious connection between the attorney's name and the location where the protesters decided to set up their display. It might be that the attorney has offices nearby, but they're apparently not explicitly connected with the business the protesters happen to be in front of. Is it that the attorney is working on a case for this business? I don't know, and the banner doesn't do anything to clear this question up. In short, if the protesters are trying to get me to join them in their indignation against this particular attorney, they have utterly failed in their mission.
I don't want to sound unsympathetic. I can certainly understand why workers might want to fight for better wages, or better health benefits, or better working conditions. But unless the folks trying to bring their dispute to public attention, and explicitly trying to "shame" this attorney into action, can give some indication of what the dispute's all about, I can't say whether or not they have any right to complain. Give me a URL, or something! By Googling the attorney's name (and also cross-referencing with the word "dispute" and with the term "labor dispute"), I'm confident that I've already done far more to find out what these guys are talking about than the average person will ever do, but I came up with nothing that could pertain to this particular dispute, nor to any pattern of poor treatment others have felt at this attorney's hands. Indeed, I found a 9.8 point "superb" rating on a 10-point scale on one site. Now, perhaps that scale measures only practices that the protesters would have considered offensive in the first place, but again, they've given me no window into their concerns, so I only have this praise to go with.
It has been said that public protest is, perhaps, the most American activity that a citizen that participate in. There's something about that I really like. However, I also think that people should do two things before taking part in any protest. 1) Save their anger for only those concerns which most deserve the public display, 2) Clearly communicate what the dispute is about, so as to give people the chance to decide if they want to support them or not. I can't speak to point #1, but these folks have completely failed at point #2.