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Letter: The proof is in the (effective) protest

(Editors: please forward to James McLeod, thank you. I deleted my Twitter account — quittered? — so felt it pertinent this rebuttal be made by email.) I stumbled on McLeod’s Twitter comment from 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 26: “This should give activists pause to for reflection on how utterly ineffective those traditional protest marches/rallies have become.” (sic)

I’ve been to a few of the Muskrat Falls protests (Confederation Building, Colonial Building, Her Majesty’s Penitentiary — notice a trend there? Anyone?), and almost all of them had few people there.

It’s actually the opposite of what McLeod are saying: the people in Newfoundland already believe that peaceful protest is “ineffective.”

But the people here are completely wrong — I point to Iceland as proof.

“Democracy Cookbook”? We need a democracy first grade reader.

A debt-ridden existence with depleted social and infrastructural budgets (well pointed out by PlanetNL online), and a major media representative questionably opines about the effectiveness of peaceful protest! Please find a lake and heave forth thyself.

Researched proof of your error:

“Researchers used to say that no government could survive if just 5 per cent of the population rose up against it,” political scientist Erica Chenoweth says in a TedTalk (“Peaceful protest is much more effective than violence for toppling dictators”)

from 2013. “Our data shows the number may be lower than that. No single campaign in that period failed after they’d achieved the active and sustained participation of just 3.5 per cent of the population.”

She adds, “But get this: every single campaign that exceeded that 3.5 per cent point was a nonviolent one. The nonviolent campaigns were on average four times larger than the average violent campaigns.”

You can read about her TedTalk here:

Have a great day, Newfoundland.

Voting ain’t changing anything around here. 

Active and sustained participation...


Gerard Neil

St. John’s

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