October 23, 2011
Like letters to the editor, protests deserve respect
A recent editorial in The Daily News dismisses the Occupy Kamloops protest as a lame excuse to rally for people who have nothing better to do. Criticisms like this have been levelled at the Occupy Wall Street movement in general: Why don’t they get a job? Or, if they do have jobs, what right do they have to complain?
I’m not going to use this space to argue the specifics for or against Occupy. But it does bother me that people living in a democracy would be so contemptuous of people exercising their right to free speech. This is something we, especially journalists, should be nurturing.
I liken it to letters to the editor. As you can imagine, I’ve seen many of them in the decades I’ve worked at newspapers. In the vast majority of cases, people have attempted to put some thought into what they say. And they don’t take it lightly. In there entire lives, most people will only write maybe one or two letters to the editor. Something really has to push them to it.
It’s true that there are some prolific writers, who have something to say about everything. And there are also the ones on the fringe, whose scribbles barely make sense. But I would say those are the exception to the rule. And even if they weren’t, I would still respect them. The freedom to say what you want in a public forum should never be taken for granted.
And so when I look at Occupy protest, I see a muddled message. I see people who angry, but not sure why they’re angry. Those things I can shrug off. But I can’t turn may back on the fact that these people have the courage of their convictions. And that’s something I always respect.