Thursday, January 20, 2005

Not One Damn Chance

It's that time again. No, I don't mean time for a winter chill or blizzard conditions. What I mean is, it's time for something that's starting to occur on a year-round basis. That something is a protest, or should I say, practicing extreme laziness and calling it a protest.

So what is that protest? Well, for all of tomorrow (Inauguration Day), protesters will conduct a completely non-partisan (yeah, right) boycott of all buying and selling, particularly retail, in an attempt to freeze the economy. They're calling this boycott Not One Damn Dime Day. Why freeze the economy, you ask? To call for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, of course! If you want to see the original chain mail that it came from (yes, it's all from a chain mail), start by going to the organizers' main website.

Now that you've seen the pitch, it's time for a reality check. Look at UrbanLegends.com and BreakTheChain.org for some reasons why this won't work. It doesn't help that the whole thing is a classic example of "armchair activism"/"slacktivism" (I prefer the latter), but I know I can add some other reasons of my own.

First of all, not everybody is going to participate in this. That's not just because it hasn't gotten as much publicity as you might expect; rather, it's because the general public is not in unanimous agreement that the war in Iraq is wrong. Even if the 45-50 percent of pro-war Americans were to develop 24-hour paralysis and not spend a cent, there's something else that no one has accounted for: alcohol. Anyone who's ever been to college knows that Thursday night is the universal party night. Many students go home on Friday, and most of their classes are done by then, so the local clubs and bars run specials. College students are also the stereotype for someone who would join this kind of a protest. Hmm...I wonder if the clubs will be empty in Morgantown tomorrow because no one is buying drinks? I doubt it. I should have told the DA about this before they ran the protest in the Jan. 11 Opinion section; after all, why make a futile effort to convert the student body when you can save ink for something more important? Trying to stop partying college students by using a protest call is like trying to stop a charging bull with a scrap of paper.

But let's humor the creator(s) of Not One Damn Dime Day for a second. Assume that the boycott works and the economy plays dead for 24 hours. Even if it were a success, it wouldn't matter because of the timing. It's not just Inauguration Day; it's a Thursday, people! It might be more noticeable if you did it on a Friday or a weekend, but because it has to coincide with the inauguration, anyone who might notice can just shrug and say, "Oh well, it's Thursday." It's not like the malls are exactly packed on a Thursday in mid-January, a time when a lot of stores are conducting inventory and not really trying to sell anything. I know the boycott is aimed more at retail, but because it's a weekday, the stock market could have a "bear day" and no one would care that much. (It wouldn't, because selling your stocks would require the use of the economy, which would violate the boycott, and no stock being bought would cause a stock market fluctuation of 0.00.)

Personally, I think the whole thing's ridiculous. So much, in fact, that I've put off buying some things until tomorrow in a form of anti-slacktivism. I had a CD I really wanted to purchase, but I don't need to spend $15 of my hard-earned cash until then. I'll probably stop at every vending machine I see and make an excuse to stock my fridge. I may even go to the mall and get some new clothes. While I'm at it, I could rent some movies, eat fast-food all day, try some new shoes, go on a shopping spree...and I could really use some company. I am posting this at the stroke of midnight Thursday, you know. Who's with me?

See...now that's counter-culture!

UPDATE: Wizbang has a post of their own about this craziness.

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