Protest This, Not That
I can’t stand it when people have their headphones up loud in public places. What’s the point of wearing headphones if everyone around you on the plane can hear your music? Now I’m distracted by your music and I’m distracted because I’m worried about the damage you’re doing to your ears. It’s frustrating…
…but not as frustrating as terrorism.
For you see, no matter how bad something is, there is always something worse. Or so it seems according to the popular rhetorical move I call the “hypocrisy juke.” It goes like this: a person or group protests something, and then someone else dismisses them and calls them a hypocrite because they aren’t protesting another, different thing. (By “protest,” I mean anything from marching with signs to posting about it on social media.) Here are a few examples:
-dismissing Black Lives Matter protesters because they aren’t protesting gang violence.
-dismissing pro-life advocates because they aren’t protesting the death penalty (or vice versa).
-dismissing feminists speaking out against “manspreading,” because they aren’t protesting human rights violations against women around the world.
-dismissing gun control advocates because automatic weapons don’t kill as many people as cars, stairs, etc. (see this meme, and there are dozens like it).
-dismissing people who denounce America’s military endeavors instead of protesting other countries’ acts of military aggression.
Here are six things to think about before accusing a person or group of hypocrisy:
In conclusion, there are times when an accusation of hypocrisy is a valid and constructive way to criticize someone else. There are also some social issues which demand our attention more urgently than others. But the “hypocrisy juke” in which one discredits a protestor simply because of what he or she is not protesting is more likely to roll eyes than to change minds.
Plus, aren’t there better things for you to be protesting than someone else’s protest?
I found this blog post via the Sightings article from July 6, and I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your thoughtfulness, Russell. In this article and the Sightings article from June 4, your words have been a balm of peace as well as a call to action for me. Thank you for sharing what you've learned, and I hope you will continue to write.
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