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Shouting "Fire" on a crowded street

One of the biggest problems I have with protests is that they often don't target the source of their grievance, but merely a "target of opportunity." People get all bent out of shape and decide to act out, and don't bother to think through the consequences of their actions.

One such case happened in Newton, Massachusetts yesterday. The firefighters are a bit cranked over what they say are poor staffing and equipment, so they held a picket yesterday. And did they hold it at City Hall, where the officials who set their budget work?

Nope. They held it at a major intersection, repeatedly walked through traffic, and caused a 25-mile traffic jam.

Now, as I said, their beef is with their local government. That government is very sensitive to public pressure. Winning the support of the public would be a huge boost to the union's cause.

Instead, they pissed of literally tens of thousands of people, who found themselves stuck in traffic jams for up to two hours. Appointments were missed, deadlines unmet, and a whole lot of very expensive gasoline was wasted.

And people wonder why unions are so damned unpopular these days...


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Comments (11)

JT,Yea, I got caug... (Below threshold)

JT,

Yea, I got caught up in the huge traffic jam. I live 6/10ths of a mile from where I work, a "commute" that usually takes all of 2 minutes to complete.

Yesterday, it took 24 minutes.

The thoughtlessness of these firemen is just stunning. In one morning, they completely erased the almost universal good will accrued since 9/11 and replaced it with wonderment at their stupidity in putting so many people's lives in danger.

The Newton Police, by the way, were complicit. They were escorting the firemen into the roadway and made sure they were safe in their "protest."

I'm surprised, quite frankly, that someone didn't plow them all over.

I have no idea what they were protesting, and you know what, I don't care. I'll vote against any tax increases that are put forward as supporting the fire department, as I'm sure many others will.

Payback is a bitch, you know.

There was some dumbass unio... (Below threshold)
moseby:

There was some dumbass union picketting outside our local Wegmans grocery store everyday for a year or so after it opened. Maybe it was the "Purple Finger Local 59C"...who knows and who cares. Anywho, the store is so popular that they must've given up. I wonder how much money was wasted payin those chumps to stand in the rain and snow holding their dopey signs....

Jay,This doesn't s... (Below threshold)
trb:

Jay,

This doesn't sound like a target of opportunity, this sounds like a target specifically chosen to either 1) raise awareness, or 2) get attention, thus also accomplishing #1. Had they picketed outside of City Hall, it's likely that not only would they have been ignored by the administration, but the average citizen wouldn't have known what they were doing, or why, either.

Many protests have their message go unheard because they don't raise enough ruckus. Look at how often people protest in Washington D.C., right outside the White House. Using your logic, that would be the proper place for a protest of the administration and its policies, however, it's not likely to garner much attention. The only reason this weekend's protest in D.C. is garnering any is because it's supposed to be massive, and because Cindy Sheehan, someone who already has media attention, is supposed to be there. Most protests that occur on the Ellipse, and there are plenty, go without much coverage.

I'm not saying these protests aren't a pain in the ass, but the firefighters accomplished what they were aiming for; attention to their cause. They may have pissed off 10,000 people, but if half of those looked into WHY they were mired in traffic, the firefighters are more likely to gain support of some of those 5,000 while not rallying many of them against their cause.

--trb

trb,I agree that the... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

trb,
I agree that the firefighters did it for attention, but I disagree about the results. Most people today are so self-absorbed that they would not care why the firefighters did what they did but only that their lives were inconvenienced. The 5% that might care probably have already been following the issue and know about it. Youy might sway 1% of the people to your way of thinking, but even then, you alienated 94%

To trb,That is the... (Below threshold)

To trb,

That is the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Inconveniencing, and putting into mortal danger, thousands and thousands of people, is a piss poor way to "get attention."

All they got was animosity. You should have heard what was on the airwaves of local radio. Complete invective. The ONLY positive calls they got were calls that were clearly from OTHER union members.

NONE of the general public CARES what they are picketing for or against. They are public servants whose job it is to SAVE LIVES, not ENDANGER LIVES.

I saw 3 ambulances, lights and sirens blasting, completely stuck in the traffic jam caused by the police and firemen.

If their cause is so worthy, all they need do is state their case, and they will win the argument on the merits.

If their cause is so mundane that they can't get attention any other way than by creating 25 mile traffic jams, I doubt pissing off 25,000 people will get them any sympathy.

I for one, will vote against any proposal they put forward as helpful to these firemen - not because they inconvenienced me, but because they revealed themselves as THUGS - willing to put everyone else in DANGER as a way of forcing us to pay attention to them and get themselves a raise.

I won't be BLACKMAILED by these THUGS.

rightnumberone:> T... (Below threshold)
trb:

rightnumberone:

> That is the dumbest thing I've ever heard.

Really? Look up 'civil disobedience' sometime and see how dumb, but incredibly effectively, it's been used in the past. I'm not arguing that they weren't asses for doing it, nor that they were doing it for great reasons, but Jay said that it was "merely a target of opportunity," and I disagree; I think it was well chosen but poorly thought out.

> Inconveniencing, and putting into mortal
> danger, thousands and thousands of people, is a
> piss poor way to "get attention."

Again, piss poor but highly effective.

> If their cause is so worthy, all they need do
> is state their case, and they will win the
> argument on the merits.

Oh yes, simply stating a case has worked well for the civil rights, anti-colonialism and apartheid movements in the past. While not on the same level, it's something that these men obviously care quite a bit about. Had they merely picketed the state house, would we be sitting here talking about it now?

--trb

trb,Perhaps we are... (Below threshold)

trb,

Perhaps we are arguing PAST each other. If your only point was "they got attention," then of course, you are correct. They got attention all right. Now, everybody who was inconvenienced and put in danger wants to run them over.

If that's the sort of attention they were trying to get then they were really, really successful.

My own, perhaps incorrect, definition of 'civil disobedience' does not include the GOVERNMENT CAUSING TRAFFIC JAMS so people will give the GOVERNMENT a raise.

Police and firemen are THE GOVERNMENT.

They are not ordinary citizens.

These people were idiots. I STILL do not know what they were picketing for, because the WAY they picketed makes me NOT CARE ABOUT THEM.

I don't WANT to know what they were picketing for. I just WANT TO RUN THEM OVER.

Not a highly effective means of demonstration. But a good way to get whacked.

rightnumberone - D... (Below threshold)
Cardinals Nation:

rightnumberone -

Dude, you live sixth tenths of a mile from your work and you drive?

Seriously?

No, really - seriously?

Cardinal,Yes. I do... (Below threshold)

Cardinal,

Yes. I do live 6/10ths of a mile from work and still drive there.

Stupid?

Well, not really, since I have to make service calls during the day using my own vehicle.

However, I did choose to live very close to my work because it seemed stupid and unenvironmentally-friendly to waste so many resources on a long commute.

How far do you live from your job?

Yes, they got attention....... (Below threshold)
MikeB:

Yes, they got attention.... but the attention that they got probably doesn't aid their cause. Using the arguement above 'that getting attention is the only and ultimate goal', they could have also got attention by setting fire to various buildings or beating random people, but the attention they receive as a result does nothing to engender support for the cause their attempting to promote.

This 'protest' is rougly equivalent to a child throwing a temper tantrum in a store because there's something the child wants. Yes, the child gets attention, but it does nothing to get them closer to acheiving their goal.

I too live 6/10 of a mile f... (Below threshold)
Cardinals Nation:

I too live 6/10 of a mile from work, but I'm lucky enough not to have to make service calls, so I bike/walk.

Even if you didn't use your own vehicle for work, I wouldn't say driving would be immoral or should be illegal. I simply think that, as a whole, we Americans tend to use our resources a bit irresponsibly. Again, not immorally or illegally, just irresponsibly. If we put a little effort into it, we could save so much more for use later.

Wow...that sounded very "eco-friendly."

Apologies for assuming the worst.




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