Sunday, October 22, 2006

Air Torture

Wanna take a trip to an exotic destination... its free. All you have to do is disobey.

I was reading through the site and I saw that Amnesty International holds guerrilla theater performances in airports. Personally I find this to be quite effective and dramatic. Imagine yourself preparing to board an airplane when suddenly you see someone bound and gagged being transported through the terminal. This kind of protest works on two levels. The first is that it draws immediate attention. People do not know that this is staged. For all they know that person being dragged away is really going to be tortured. The second level is that protest and civil disobedience, is only effective if it is "dangerous" or illegal. Seeing a bunch of twentysomethings holding signs and shouting in the streets has been adopted into the political culture. It is not dangerous any more, the government, or whoever the protesters are protesting do not feel threatened (I am not speaking only about physical violence or property damage, the threatened feeling could simply be that there is some new and unexpected force counter to them).
The old forms of protest are tired and anticipated. For example, if anyone remembers both the Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention, then you may remember the "free speech zones". The "free speech zones" were fenced in cages where legally permitted protest was allowed to occur. Since when does free speech reside in a cage? To me, anyone who "legally" protested in the cage was simply a tool. The real protesters where on the streets, they were among the cadres of both parties; they were acting outside the law and what was expected of them. The reason why the protest of the 60s and 70s where so effective was because it was unexpected and forceful. The Freedom Riders, the Lunch Counter Sit Ins, the campus take overs, all were illegal. These were the people who caused great change, not those who were simply willing to follow the rules and asked for their turn to speak. The people who make a difference demand their turn to speak, and that makes all the difference.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

There is not doubt about it that this type of protest is dramatic and effective, but I think that it is a little over the top. The world is very sensitive since 9/11, and I think that holding a performance like this in airports is disrespectful to those who died and the people who are dealing with the fear in the aftermath. How are we ever supposed to know when to take something like this seriously in the future if people keep faking it? This is a case of the boy who cried wolf. I think actions like this will numb people from caring if it were to actually happen one day.

If the typical form of protesting is no longer working, find some way other than TERRORIZING people to get it to work.

--Kristy G

Elle said...

I think that this type of protest is extremely interesting. While I do not think that an airport is an appropriate place to carry out such actions, I see the appeal of such a terror invoking type of demonstration. If people are really going to realize and understand what is going on, I think that they have to be shocked. Handing out pamphlets and signing petitions is one thing, but often I think that this type of demonstration is dismissed exactly because it is so common. But we have to remember that something TERRIBLE is happening to these prisoners. Regardless of whether they are innocent or not, this treatment is unacceptable. Surprisingly enough many do not even realize that the United States is taking these actions. Many don't watch the news because it is too depressing. A demonstration of something which is really occuring is absolutly a great way to draw attention to an issue like this. I just think that there are more appropriate places than an airport.