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Outrage and demonstrations are no longer effective

Methinks, thou dost protest too much -Shakespeare I am a baby boomer, or so they say. Born in the 1950s, I came of age in the 1960s and was on a college campus in the early 1970s. The 60s and 70s were tumultuous times. We became very well aware of demonstrations at an early age. Primarily those demonstrations were for civil rights and getting America out of the Vietnam War. Both were noble goals and both were achieved. The demonstrations helped to a point. I would like to think ‘˜the man’, that’s who was in charge back then – just ask anyone, would have eventually come to realize that all men and women are created equal and that sending our youth to die in a war in Vietnam we had no intention of winning was a waste. But, large protests did have a way of putting focus on the monumental issues of the day. Fast forward to today and there seems to be a protest of some sort on every street corner. The issues are no longer monumental. The vast majority are trivial. Just gin up some outrage, make yourself a sign or silly hat, carve out a spot in a high-traffic area and go to work bringing about social change. Everybody’s doing it. According to protesters, I can use whatever restroom I ‘˜identify with’ at any given time and I have every right to be accompanied in said restroom by my companion dog, chicken, ferret, possum, tarantula or boa constrictor and you’d best keep your mouth shut about it or I will mount a hashtag jihad and make your life miserable. Additionally, my citizenship (and passport) are meaningless. There are no borders. I can go anywhere I want freely and qualify for free medical care, housing and sustenance. It is inspiring. I am already planning a summer sojourn in Mogadishu. I hear the stench is at its peak in summer. Many in our society live for the next outrage. Want to hear the latest on out of date milk found in the cooler at the local supermarket? Just check in on Facebook. There loosing they’re minds! Sadly, television news – or what passes for it in America – loves a good protest. They glorified the Occupy Wall Street movement. It accomplished nothing. Same for the women’s march with the genitalia hats. It accomplished nothing. Satire aside, nothing is accomplished in any of these protests because protests are commonplace. Hashtags are just another stroke on the keyboard. People have grown tired of the outrage and are tuning out. Many never tune in at all. The most violent recent protests were over the relocation of the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Obviously, both the American and Israeli governments thought this was necessary. Many Palestinians rioted. About 60 died. They had no say in the matter. Their protests accomplished nothing. They died for nothing. Protests are almost always ineffective. ‘˜Much ado about nothing,’ Shakespeare might have written. Curb your outrage. Martyrs may have died for what they thought at the time was a noble cause but they are nonetheless dead. No matter what befalls you or what makes up the outrage of the day, remember: This too shall pass! Note: Before you protest, I am aware Shakespeare did not actually write the phrase ‘˜Methinks thou dost protest too much’. The actual line in Hamlet spoken by Queen Gertrude is, ‘The lady doth protest too much, methinks’. Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette.

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