Karl du Fresne on protesting

Karl du Fresne writes about protestors and protesting:

Protesters are indulged to the extent that authorities routinely allow them to conduct street marches that inconvenience other people.? In much of the world this would be unthinkable.

But protesters too often interpret this tolerance as a general licence to disrupt, which is where they get it wrong. Generally speaking, the right to protest ends at the point where it obstructs the rights of others.

When protesters become so pumped up with self-righteousness that they believe they?re entitled ? indeed, have a moral duty ? to interfere with the rights of others, public sympathy for their cause rapidly evaporates.

We?ve seen a lot of this lately. The day before the Wanganui incident, Greenpeace protesters blocked all the entrances to the SkyCity convention centre, where a petroleum industry conference was underway. People were unable to get in or out.

Police took a lenient line, as they almost invariably do, removing some protesters but apparently making no arrests. ?

They were similarly indulgent with the anti-TPPA Waitangi Day protester who hit cabinet minister Steven Joyce with a flying dildo and inexplicably escaped prosecution for assault. Perhaps the police were too busy processing dangerous spinsters who?d been intercepted at checkpoints for having half a glass of sherry too many.

Then there were the protesters dressed as clowns who invaded a public meeting held in Auckland to explain the free trade agreement.

Never were protesters more appropriately disguised. They were far more clownish than they realised, noisily disrupting an event that was held to do exactly what the anti-TPPA camp had been demanding: namely, to reveal more about details of the agreement.

Plainly, these buffoons weren?t remotely interested in information or disclosure. They were getting off on the adrenalin buzz of protesting.

But the gold standard of protester arrogance remains the actions of the three men who sabotaged the Waihopai electronic listening post in 2008, causing damage that taxpayers had to pay for. The official estimate was $1.2 million.

The sanctimonious saboteurs claimed to have Jesus Christ?s backing, although how they could be so sure of that was never explained.

Protestors always seem to think that their rights trump everyone elses’ rights.

They’re wrong of course, but that doesn’t stop them doing what they want to do.


– Karl Du Fresne