Red Emma Speaks

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Lameness Abounds...(or Paul Stokes is a lame-ass)

I'm a fan of protest. I love the rush of adrenaline when one is in the center of a shouting crowd, all focusing anger that could hurt into something better, into something a bit grand. Being there is suddenly believing, in a way, in a true sea change--a better future. It can be tremendously inspiring.

I realize that many folks get unbelievably angry when they witness a protest. I've seen enraged red-faced sorts threaten activists with their cars, screaming obscenities as they whizz by. And I can't make myself get too worked up about it. Most of it's bluster, and can be dealt with by those properly trained in non-violent intervention, after all.

But it's always interesting to me how little fact or cause is ever published when mainstream news outlets discuss protests. Very often, the tone of the newsbits is one of bemusement and mocking. A case in point is today's smarmy little tidbit on the Making Poverty History protests. Stokes worries that he's going to be harassed for wearing a suit, and appears to have spent the entire protest hanging around the food court. (He gets paid for this?) Instead of actually asking any of the protesters why they were there, he spends his ink trying to make some sort of point about how this is an anti-hunger march and, whoa!, these people are eating. He might have made a point about how eating hamburgers shortchanges the earth's ability to feed us, but no such luck. (Not to mention other stuff.) He makes a little joke about the tarot reader, and then winds up with a fairly decent point about the direct good of buying the African musicians' CDs versus not. But nowhere--I mean nowhere--does he get anything of substance out of a single marcher. In fact, he doesn't even get any lame-ass "for the children" quotes. Whatta waste.

There was this little bit:

Stephen Tomlin, who described himself as an ordinary working actor from Lancaster, was there with his daughter and grandson. He was sporting two wristbands, the white Make Poverty History and a red one calling for the end of capitalism. So what would he say to the African desperate to set up his own roadside burger stall to lift himself and his family out of poverty? Surely that was capitalism too? "It's a contradiction," he said. "But life's full of contradictions."
Pretty lame backhand. But isn't it sad that most protesters have their thoughts reduced to a soundbyte like that, anyway? Let's hope he meant to say that an African trying to set up a roadside stall isn't really what any anti-capitalist sort is worried about. In fact, I think it's really about making sure that that African with the roadside stall (let's assume that in his country, the people are far less likely to crave burgers than we are, and he can have something his neighbors can produce the agricultural goods for. Which is far more likely.) gets just as much chance to survive as the chain McD's trying for yet another outpost of mediocrity. That's really what's being talked about, here.

Anyway, here's my own lame-ass wish that reporters like Paul Stokes would wander away from the food court a bit so that the world might get some insight as to what's actually going on.

I have to add that I had to go look up the word "punter."

And I'm still not sure what he meant, exactly. (added 7/4/05)


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