COP15 Protests*

Protesters at the COP15 conference armed with drums, whistles and (as yet) undeployed spray cans…

Aside from annoying neighborhood residents with their irksome racket and forcing local shopkeepers to hastily board up their stores to prevent windows being violently smashed in (for the sake of saving the environment, presumably) it’s somewhat difficult to determine exactly what possible effect these youthfully exuberant gatherings might have.

Jon Stewart has a new feature on his show called “You’re Not Helping!” that would most definitely apply to these folks. What purpose is served by such nonsensical demonstrations escapes me.

The Uptake has many more videos following the pointless antics of these folks getting arrested and sometimes fleeing from the implacable Danish police forces.

*I suspect there will be more of these protest-related posts in the coming days.

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31 Comments

Filed under Climate Change, Environmental Policy

31 responses to “COP15 Protests*

  1. R/T.. you have been on a roll these past few weeks. Some very good posts.. raising good points in a manner seeking to avoid typical partisan arguments.

    And this is another good one.

    Since when did the right to protest become the right to damage others’ property? To some degree in the last couple of decades, we have suggested that thuggery, rioting and looting is o.k. as long as it’s for a good cause.

    Those of us who are playing by the rules, showing respect for each other’s right to have different opinions, should do exactly what you’re doing today.

    Say “no”. I don’t care if your “cause” is a good cause or not – it doesn’t give you the right to hurt innocent people.

    As Jon Stewart says, “You’re not helping”.

  2. TofKW

    “Since when did the right to protest become the right to damage others’ property?”

    Consequentialism is nothing new, for as long as the term “the end justifies the means” has been around anyhow. There was a time when the environmental movement employed such practices to good effect (Greenpeace’s anti-whaling protests from the 70’s come to mind), however I must agree that such protesters are now getting to the point of lunacy.

    Since I mentioned Greenpeace earlier, I’d like to nominate them now to the environmental douchebaggery awards as well. Though I admired there efforts decades ago with their anti-nuke and anti-whaling antics, they lost me in the 80’s with their ‘survival of the cutest’ agenda against the seal hunt. True environmentalists know that humans have so affected nature now that sometimes a cull is actually a reasonable course of action. Instead they concentrate on the seal clubbing aspect (which is nothing compared to what the polar bears do to them) and totally avoid their roll in keeping Atlantic cod populations in critical condition. They are no longer a real environmental group in my opinion; they simply exist now for shock value and the donations they bring in. Their banner stunt on Parliament Hill the other day is a continuing example of this, and thanks to them the security presence on the ‘Hill’ will no doubt be increased. And with this another little piece of Canadian civility has died.

    Wow, two threads in a row where Rob and I are in agreement.

  3. Ti-Guy

    To some degree in the last couple of decades, we have suggested that thuggery, rioting and looting is o.k. as long as it’s for a good cause.

    Wasn’t it Donald Rumsfeld who proclaimed that the post-invasion rioting, looting and thuggery in Iraq were good things? As far as I know, it’s only ever been the rightists who’ve claimed these things are OK.

    Most normal people don’t condone them. People like me warn constantly that if the ruling class continues to ignore all the peaceful, democratic ways of for the public to exercise its right to advocate for important causes, they will resort to other methods.

    I find it odd for a libertarian like you Rob to be clucking your tongue at demonstrations of public power. I bet you would have been in similar high dudgeon over the Boston Tea Party or the rebellions in Lower and Upper Canada.

  4. TofKW

    I dunno Ti.
    While I admit you bring up a valid concern, there are certain voices that are beyond reason which are best ignored. The Teabaggers on our southern flank for example. And though I agree with their ultimate goal, these particular protesters in Denmark are not all that dissimilar; though with the obvious exception that they are from the opposite side of the political spectrum. Well that and there are actually thousands of them protesting.

  5. Wayward son

    A dozen years ago I stopped going to these kind of protests when I group of anarchists did every thing in their power to try to get the police to use pepperspray, or more severe force, on us. The anarchists had gasmasks so they wouldn’t be affected by the pepperspray. I thought it was nice of them to try to endanger the 99% of us interested only in peaceful protest. At that protest I was far more impressed with the behavior of the police than the protestors, and decided it would be my last.

    I can’t say anything about this protest, but I think the drumming would very quickly become severely annoying.

  6. Jerome Bastien

    Isnt the best parallel to these ‘protests’ the anti-globalization movement? Im pretty sure its the same people too – just using any pretext to trash a starbucks. They are usually composed of various dirty hippies/punks/anarchists who think they are entitled to cope with their daddy issues by being public nuisances.


    As far as I know, it’s only ever been the rightists who’ve claimed these things are OK.

    I dont think the looting in Iraq is anything like this – that was actual anarchy caused by a power vacuum and I suspect normal people (and of course scumbags too) participated.

    Which right-winger has ever supported protests like this one or an anti-globalization protest? We support the right to protest, but not to damage other people’s property.

    And clearly you guys are upset by the tea party movement. Im prepared to eat crow on this if you guys prove me wrong but as far as I can tell the tea party movement is not composed of violent yahoos – more like normal people who are opposed to Obama.

  7. Ti-Guy

    The Teabaggers on our southern flank for example.

    They’d be easily ignored if they didn’t have a entire media empires dedicated to championing their “cause.” (whatever that may be).

    I’m against this tut-tutting about the style of these protests. Sure, these spectacles of drum circles and giant puppets are stupid, but at least they’re about something more than shopping and computer games and reality teevee and celebrity gossip. They’re also being conflated here in this discussion with a spectrum of public action, from peaceful assembly to peaceful civil disobedience, to property destruction (oh, boo hoo…someone’s window got *hurt*), to out-of-control riots with physical injury to, of course, terrorism. The overall message ends up being “you are powerless to change anything.” In light of the fact that democratic or even consumer choices don’t work anymore either, it’s a rather hopeless message to be communicating to younger people.

    The message I think is necessary for the rest of us (conservatives, liberals, socialists, anarchists…whatever) to communicate to the ruling class is that it needs to fear us. Given that they’ve taken to bombing whole countries into the Dark Ages and killing millions of innocent people with impunity, it’s something they need to be reminded of, obviously.

  8. Ti-Guy

    I dont think the looting in Iraq is anything like this – that was actual anarchy caused by a power vacuum and I suspect normal people (and of course scumbags too) participated.

    That wasn’t my point. The fact that Rumsfeld praised it was.

    Im prepared to eat crow on this if you guys prove me wrong but as far as I can tell the tea party movement is not composed of violent yahoos – more like normal people who are opposed to Obama.

    Care to tell us why they’re opposed to Obama exactly? Please be specific. Cite sources.

    I don’t care if the teabaggers get violent by the way (although that type usually would rather assassinate than *hurt stuff*). It’s the absence of cause that puzzles me.

  9. TofKW

    “And clearly you guys are upset by the tea party movement.”

    No, actually I shake my head and laugh at them. It is this type of nonsensical populism which caused me to leave the conservatives after the Reform-Alliance hijacked my party. What upsets me is, as Ti-Guy mentioned, these morons have an entire media outlet which created and directs them. They may not trash a Starbucks, though I consider them more dangerous than the hippie-wannabes in Denmark right now …if for no other reason than they are more than likely the ones to attend an Obama speech armed.

  10. Taibbi’s latest article in RS says the teabaggers are, ironically, Obama’s best friends (and the rest of the plutocracy’s) as they distract from ‘actual’ issues. they stand for nothing and get lots of media that is thus not focusing on ‘actual’ issues.

    as far as teabaggers being composed of “normal people”; i personally don’t know any ‘normal people’ that believe the giant giveaway to big pharma and the insurance industry is “socialized medicine” (“Obamacare”); or who believe Obama is the anti-christ or not born in the US. i must be abnormal…

  11. When the OAS had one of their meetings in Windsor a number of years ago, the entire downtown core was shut down, key buildings were barricaded with concrete fortifications topped with barbed wire, and hundreds of police officers were brought in from counties around S.W. Ontario to patrol the streets (some in Robocop riot gear; in fact, even the horses were decked out with protective headwear). This was meant to combat an anticipated crowd of anarchistic rabble rousers coming from Toronto and various parts of the U.S. Midwest upset about hemispheric trade agreements.

    Sure enough, a small number of kids had decamped from suburbia to play — they crashed some chain link fences, threw the obligatory rocks, and vocally squared off with the police. Afterwards, they went back to their cushy existence, content in the knowledge that they’d done… well, something. As for the police, it justified their existence for a few days, got them momentarily stoked about being assholes strutting around in super-cool riot gear and earned them some extra pay.

    What complete waste of time for all concerned. It was the OAS for goodness sake!

    Just a few weeks ago here in Victoria a relatively small group of protesters showed up to demonstrate against the Olympics at the torch-lighting ceremony — at this point in time, a phenomenally pointless effort by any measure. But even so, it’s all well and good to make their objections public, as they have some legitimate points to make. So what do they do? Throw marbles on the road in front of mounted police; an action that could hobble the horses (likely resulting in their death) and possibly quite seriously injure their riders.

    Generally speaking, public demonstrations have not proven to be effective since the 60s. The problem seems to be that such actions are never coupled with real consequences for those in power. The French seem to get it right in this respect — they simply withdraw labour/services until such time as their demands are met. The mass demonstrations on the streets are just meant to win over public opinion.

  12. Ti-Guy

    Generally speaking, public demonstrations have not proven to be effective since the 60s.

    I’d say that’s only true of the US. And they weren’t even effective then.

  13. Ti-Guy — I miss your old avatar…

    Protests only seem to work when they’re persistently annoying and/or unsustainably expensive to deter. I suspect that the tactics of demonstrators haven’t kept pace with the counter-measures effected by authorities. There’s a serious lack of imagination evidenced when it comes to simply rounding up a bunch of people to march in the streets and angrily wave signs.

    Really… it’s pathetic.

  14. Ti-Guy

    Ti-Guy — I miss your old avatar…

    Ewps. Didn’t realise I was posting without signing in with my Gravatar thing-a-ma-jig. By the way, if she doesn’t pass soon, my homage will have lost all meaning.

    On the topic of protests and counter culture, I still consider Joseph Heath’s and Andrew Potter’s Rebel Sell the last word on modern activism. Although its critics dismissed it as a defence of capitalism (which it was), the real point was about the kind of faux-activism that is more of a lifestyle and a fashion than the real thing.

  15. Wasn’t it Donald Rumsfeld who proclaimed that the post-invasion rioting, looting and thuggery in Iraq were good things?

    I think Rumsfeld’s notorious comment was something along the lines of, “Stuff happens”–meaning not so much that the rioting was good but that is was irrelevant and, moreover, that tens of thousands of heavily armed troops belonging to the most technologically advanced military in the world had no option but to stand around and watch whilst Iraqis absconded with and destroyed irreplaceable archaeological treasures.

    I bet you would have been in similar high dudgeon over the Boston Tea Party or the rebellions in Lower and Upper Canada.

    Nah. He would have grabbed a pitchfork and joined in the riotous assaults against the confiscatory tyranny of effete, Euroweenie élites. There are no more Massachusetts Comptrollers of the royal revenue for Rob to cudgel, of course, but there are plenty of non-Harperoids to deride—which is almost just as fun.

  16. Yeah, I just noticed it. Spare me the [sic]… 😉

  17. Ti-Guy

    There are no more Massachusetts Comptrollers of the royal revenue for Rob to cudgel, of course, but there are plenty of non-Harperoids to deride—which is almost just as fun.

    I’m sure you know this would be lost on Rob.

    Why do you do that so often? Why do you make sure the people you’re addressing have no idea what you’re talking about?

  18. Ti-Guy — I haven’t read Heath’s book, but will keep an eye out for it.

    Make no mistake, I’m a committed capitalist, and as such I believe in hitting other people in the bottom line when it comes to activism. Prancing around, banging drums, throwing rocks, vandalizing property and waving signs is nothing but a useless, highly annoying distraction.

  19. SF — You’re correct (as usual). Rummy’s declaration on the rioting following Iraq’s “liberation” was something to the effect that “stuff happens” which was a remarkably sublime observation. Indeed, “stuff” happens all the time.

    What he actually meant by that can only be a matter of speculation, but I suspect that he wasn’t entirely displeased by the riotous expression of “freedom” by the downtrodden rabble (and professional criminals savvy to the opportunity at hand) even if it resulted in the looting or destruction of priceless historical artifacts, of which Rumsfeld had little or no regard for their value or meaning in any case.

  20. Prancing around, banging drums, throwing rocks, vandalizing property and waving signs is nothing but a useless, highly annoying distraction…

    …or Frosh Week at U Vic.

  21. Ti-Guy

    Make no mistake, I’m a committed capitalist, and as such I believe in hitting other people in the bottom line when it comes to activism. Prancing around, banging drums, throwing rocks, vandalizing property and waving signs is nothing but a useless, highly annoying distraction.

    As a committed capitalist, what did you have to say about the relatively quiet protest of Brooksley Born on the dangers of the unregulated derivatives market in the late 199o’s?

    Nothing, I’m sure and quite rightly, because you didn’t hear of it.

    It behooves us all, I think, to be attentive and less dismissive of challenge and critique. That’s all I’m saying.

  22. SF — Something like that.

    Although UVic is a pretty sedate place these days. I think the vast multitude of rabbits are having a calming effect on the student body. Seriously, I was up there today having lunch and the feral rodents outnumbered students 5:1.

  23. I guess it just has to be re-seen to be believed.

    I’m not sure I’ve intellectually assimilated the fact that the Bush era actually occurred. I’m not sure I want to, really. I doubt if my faith in a compassionate God could withstand the assault.

  24. Ti-Guy

    I doubt if my faith in a compassionate God could withstand the assault.

    Mine didn’t.

  25. Ti-Guy — Guilty as charged. I guess…

    During the late 90’s I was kind of preoccupied with keeping my head above water, dealing with horrific marital problems, getting a new job in Toronto, contending with 8 hr. commutes, infighting with corporate slackwits, and so on. Didn’t have much time to devote to the “quiet protest” of Brooksley Borne…

  26. counter-coulter

    So let me see if I’ve got this right; the protestors show up at COP15 to protest countries / companies that contribute to global warming carrying aerosol spray cans? Brilliant!

  27. SF — Seems like a bad dream, doesn’t it?

  28. Ti-Guy

    Guilty as charged. I guess…

    Red, you’re misunderstanding me. I’m not charging you with anything.

    I’m not an anti-capitalist. I’m not a committed capitalist either. I’ve been maintaining that complex systems (like democracy and a free market economy) require constant vigilance. That these systems mostly work should, by now, be assumed. When they don’t work, where their points of failure lie and where improvements can be made, is what should interest us.

  29. Ti-Guy

    So let me see if I’ve got this right; the protestors show up at COP15 to protest countries / companies that contribute to global warming carrying aerosol spray cans? Brilliant!

    I bet you wish they could be shunted into a Bushie “free speech zone” just about now, eh?

  30. counter-coulter

    Ti-Guy

    I bet you wish they could be shunted into a Bushie “free speech zone” just about now, eh?

    Not so much. I believe that they’ve got every right to be vacuous ninnies if that’s want they want to do. Now, some of the Democrats that go on the Sunday morning shows…

  31. Ti-Guy

    Not so much. I believe that they’ve got every right to be vacuous ninnies if that’s want they want to do.

    Well, that’s a relief. Because they, unlike some people, won’t be herded so easily into free speech zones.

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