Jump to Navigation

pedal pusher - a photo essay

Fri Aug 19, 2005 accidental altruist 

This summer my husband and I helped organize a Parking Meter Party. What we did was roll up to York Street early on a Saturday, park our bikes on the street and feed the appropriate parking meters. We invited our friends from the HPVOoO to bring more bikes, lawn chairs and snacks.

The whole point of this event was to reclaim space that has been exclusively earmarked for motor vehicles. To challenge assumptions about how we all get from point A to point B. To ask passers by - do you want to live in a city built for cars or for people?

We were interviewed by several TV and Radio reporters. The following is the transcript from CBC Radio, the photos were candid shots taken by Greg.


"Jenn and Greg Farr had barely parked their bikes and plugged
the meters when the first complaint was made."





"A driver wanted one of their two spaces."





"Two people in Byward Market Association T-shirts soon
showed up and politely told them that motorists already
have enough trouble finding parking, without their demo.

guy in yellow shirt said: Basically you're pissing off people
-- I mean the motorists because parking is hard, as
you know..."





"And then a by-law officer drove up.

bylaw officer said: I just got a complaint saying that you
guys are not allowed to park there.

Jenn said: Well we paid for it.

bylaw officer: You guys paid for it?

Jenn: Yeah we have our little stubs on our handlebars.

bylaw officer: Okay, hold on."





"Turns out, they could park there... as long as they paid
for the space. That was the word from the next by-law
officer."





"Jenn Farr then delivered her message that too many cars
raise the stress level in an area that should be for people...
and that a lot more people could go to the market without
their cars.

Jenn said: It's just about getting into people's
consciousness and reminding them that there are other
ways to get around than in gas powered vehicles."





"When the Farr meters ran out, other cyclists rode up to
claim parking spaces and keep the protest going... and
slowly circling motorists continued to look with dismay
at the potential -- but unavailable -- parking spaces.

Wayne Anderson, cbc news - Ottawa"


We think the event was a huge success and plan to do it again. The whole morning had been fun and invigorating for all of us. If you're keen on good-natured cycling advocacy, believe in eco-friendly transportation or just love funky-weird bikes - you'd probably enjoy the Human Powered Vehicle Operators of Ottawa (HPVOoO). Our bike group has weekly Sunday dinner meetings at local restaurants. We're holding a beach-themed parade to the Ottawa Folk Festival on Sunday the 21st. On the 28th we're dressing up & riding our bikes in the Pride Parade. And then we'll be at Car Free Day on September 22nd!

Some people were moved to reply

Miss Vicky Aug 19, 2005 01:31 PM said:

Now I'm really sorry I missed that event! I particularly like the shot with the bylaw officer....

accidental altruist Aug 19, 2005 02:17 PM said:

well Miss Vicky, t'would be a treat to have you join us at any of our upcoming events!

DEADwrong Aug 19, 2005 03:13 PM said:

Unfortunately only the second image will load for me. All others show a broken link and reloading page makes no change. ?????

Um? Don't know quite how I feel about this, having driven motorcycles, cars, and for my last 18 years in Ottawa before leaving, a bicycle winter and summer. Parking a bike securely was a challenge at times. And incredulous folk who thought it madness to ride in winter sometimes showed ignorance - as they didn't know the truth about how it's easier to ride on ice than walk on the same stuff.

But making motorists understand that a bike is a vehicle and in truth has as much right to that space as a car or truck is likely a good idea. Sure to tick many drivers off though. Hope no one gets punch crazy.

amckay Aug 19, 2005 08:22 PM said:

I have to admit when you were first talking about this I thought it was a bit of a half-baked idea. I guess the name reminded me too much of "tailgate party" or something. But you've changed my mind, and even though I don't think I've driven my bike once since I've been in Ottawa (used to go for a good aerobic ride every morning before work in NS), you might even get me out to your next parking-meter party.

missvickysmother Aug 20, 2005 10:30 AM said:

Add two more enthusiasts to your next parking meter party. My husband & I love to cycle and we couldn't agree with you more about educating the public regarding the rights of cyclists, as well as the need to reduce cars, trucks & motorcycles at the Byward Market. We've looked at the HPVOoO
website and are impressed with their style of advocacy.

DEADwrong Aug 20, 2005 03:50 PM said:

Finally got to see the images by right clicking each broken image ikon and downloading the image seperately via "view image". That put it in the post as well. Bit slow but it works. Last image is so dark that when it did download on my first viewings of the post I copied it and ran it through my autoadjust software 3 times to brighten it up. Looks good when bright.

You can see my compressed and bright view of it on my Blog http:hughphoto.tripod.com/Blog /

DEADwrong Aug 20, 2005 04:01 PM said:

Checked out the link to the funkyy weird bikes and the image it goes to looks like a positively dangerous experiencel How to get started or stopped must be a challenge. I noted the fellow in helmet running safety beside it. I also recall images by the photographer, Vic Gedris, when he was moving his home via bicycle a couple of years ago. Amazing effort!

Jason Aug 21, 2005 02:29 AM said:

Ok, so here's a contrary view of things, just for the fun it:

Since they couldn't park their cars in the spaces taken up by the bikes, the angry drivers just drive around and around the Markets looking for a parking space and burning that much more gas. Had they parked, they wouldn't have been burning the extra gas; the cars would have been turned off. Suppose you attract more people to bring their bikes instead of their cars. That just means that those who do bring their cars are going to be burning that much more gas looking for parking spaces. If they can't park in the markets, they'll park elsewhere. The further away they park once they find their cherished spaces filled with bikes, the more gas they end up burning.

A totally wacky, outrageous view of things or does it have at least some plausibility? (For the record, I'd rather see bikes than cars in the Markets. In fact, I wouldn't mind if cars were banned from the Markets. That, however, wouldn't solve the environmental problem raised by the demonstration.)

DEADwrong Aug 21, 2005 04:56 PM said:

Ah, Jason; you hit a major point.

Funny; one day, 9 or 10 years ago when I was living in the city, I pulled my bike up half way down the block on the West side of the Market building and was locking it outside the bakery I was going into, when a gruff old guy gave me a dirty look and badmouth for having the bike there. The lack of bike lock ups in sane locations didn't bother him at all.

And today's press carries stories of a report in London England of tests on 1000 bike riders many of whom have taken it up since the bombings as a means of safety and exercise, hoping for greater health as well. Seems there's so much pollution from the cars in the traffic they must ride through that they are inhaling more particulate which is likely to give them cardiac problems quicker than normal. Uh? There seems to be no winning!

I'll still go for the bikes, as quick to get somewhere in the short haul especially, way cheaper than the bus or the car.

accidental altruist Aug 21, 2005 05:53 PM said:

nice attempt at spurring some friendly debate, Jason. ;-)

i'd say the number of people who got to hear our message from the tv and radio coverage justifies our re-appropriation of 4 parking spaces on a Saturday morning.

most drivers know that their chances of finding parking near Parliament Hill on Canada Day are nil. even die hard car commuters take the OC Transpo downtown on July 1st - why not work on extending that mentality to every day?

personally, it was all worthwhile if only to enjoy the absurd sight of our wee effcient machines taking up a fraction of the space a motor vehicle would require. imagine all the possibilites for the extra space we'd save if everyone used human powered or public transport!

Jason Aug 21, 2005 11:32 PM said:

i'd say the number of people who got to hear our message from the tv and radio coverage justifies our re-appropriation of 4 parking spaces on a Saturday morning.

And supposing they interpret what they see on TV and hear on radio in negative terms? Suppose they, too, witness the absurdity of bikes parked in spaces ordinarily designated for cars, but are decidedly not thrilled by what they see. Just for the hell of it, I'd like to throw in a quote by one of my favourite writers:

"It is easy...to understand why protest becomes a distinctive moral feature of the modern age and why indignation is a predominant modern emotion. . . . Protest is now almost entirely that negative phenomenon which characteristically occurs as a reaction to the alleged invasion of someone's rights in the name of someone else's utility. The self-assertive shrillness of protest arises because . . . protestors can never win an argument: the indignant self-righteousness of protest arises because . . . the protestors can never lose an argument either. Hence the utterance of protest is characteristically addressed to those who already share the protestors' premises. . . . Protestors rarely have anyone else to talk to but themselves. This is not to say that protest cannot be effective; it is to say that it cannot be rationally effective."

-- Alasdair MacIntyre. After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1981, p. 71.

Those angry drivers would surely have possessed the intelligence to grasp the point of the demonstration. Yet, their anger is a sign that they were not won over. So, I'd have to wonder: how would they be persuaded? Through rational argument or by forcing them to find alternative means of transportation by forever killing their hopes of finding a parking space? If the latter, then the movitating reason to pursue alternative means of transportation would certainly not be guided by environmental considerations. Rather, it would be guided by practical considerations. If anything, it would solidify their hostility. Hence, wherever they are not hindered by bikes occupying parking spaces, they will see no reason not to drive there with their cars.

An unreasonable argument?

accidental altruist Aug 22, 2005 07:32 AM said:

that's the reason why the whole thing was called a parking meter Party ;-)

really though, it took 100 years for us to get to this point and i figure it'll take at least that long to get humans to give up their behemouth luxury vehicles.

... unless gas keeps rising - then it'll be the penny-pinchers leading the call!

$$$$ talks then drivers walk. ... or bike!

DEADwrong Aug 22, 2005 04:40 PM said:

As much as I go for the whole idea of this operation I don't see much hope of changing the majority pattern of car use by promoting bike use. Less even than the poor hopes of getting people on not so friendly buses that don't run where you want when you want - especially for aging citizens who are not too mobile.

I know that few people would be ready to put up with the mess and bike repairing I had to deal with as a winter biker or even the summer scene. Comfort and ease is the modern theme - until the gas runs out - and who knows for sure what the replacement will be?

I really enjoy Jason's find/memory of protest. I've long doubted the value ouf most protest, though none would be a poor state too.

Jason Aug 23, 2005 02:08 AM said:

My apologies if I appear to be breeding pessimism :-)

However, I do think it's worthwhile to question the merit of protests, including the one organized by Madame Altruist. I happen to be sympathetic with her goals, though I can't say the same about her proposed strategy.

My point concerns the efficacy of protests to bring about their desired goals. Precisely because protests assume the form of a moral condemnation, they inevitably generate hostile and defensive reactions. Protests are another way of pronouncing guilty verdicts. They're necessarily parasitic on division. Given the goals of the bike protest, it seems self-defeating to encourage division when consensus should be the desired outcome. If the ultimate goal of the protest is to encourage a collective change in lifestyle, which in turn would ideally reduce greenhouse gas emissions, I think it would be far more effective to appeal to considerations that affect us all. It might be more fruitful, for example, to appeal to monetary considerations by encouraging people to drive hybrid cars. It might also be fruitful to tap into the emotion of fear by educating the public about the very real and potentially disastrous consequences of global warming, not to mention the inevitable decline in global oil supplies.

Protests are effective when, say, the general population protests against the policies of the government. However, when a handful of people protest against the general population, I have serious doubts about its potential for success.

amckay Aug 23, 2005 06:44 AM said:

However, I do think it's worthwhile to question the merit of protests

It's worthwhile to question every single belief a person has, because if you don't question your own beliefs, how can you be so sure in the steadfastness of that belief?

protests assume the form of a moral condemnation, they inevitably generate hostile and defensive reactions.

I started discussing this on another forum where I participate, and a number of people brought this up as well, which got me to thinking. I hadn't considered it initially but I do think there is merit to the point. I'll have to ponder some more on what my opinion here will be ...

The Webgeek Aug 23, 2005 08:57 AM said:

Protests are effective when, say, the general population protests against the policies of the government. However, when a handful of people protest against the general population, I have serious doubts about its potential for success.

Perhaps not immediately, but "protests" take different forms: the small ones are there to raise awareness; the big ones to effect (or is it affect?) change. WHat Jenn and hubby did was raise awareness. They obviously got the attention of some radio and TV, and they also got a parking meter person on their side. Next year, who knows: but it looks like they'll have Miss Vickyt's mom and her hubby in toe as well, at the very least. that's like, a 100% increase participation! I think it'll probably be more like 5-600%.

protests assume the form of a moral condemnation, they inevitably generate hostile and defensive reactions.

No, protests present an opposing point of view to the one that is being put forth by a government (or governing body). That doesn't neccesarily go hand in hand with moral condemnation. As of late, there seems to be a fair bit of it flying around, but not always. And it also depends on how one protests too. Making an event fun and festive while still putting forth a message can be equally effective, if not more so. One can protest with a hand extended out in freindship just as much as with a hand cenched in a fist. And, more often than not, one can get further with that extended hand. You can effect change from within a system by exerting small, subtle changes. If you're office has a contract with, say, Starbucks, for its coffee supplies, you can keep bringing in fair trade coffee for the coffee maker instead, for example.

Jenn wasn't screaming obsenities at motorists and calliong them gas-guzzling nature killers. No, she threw a *party*. She worked within the system and made a few people think twice about car culture and (partuially) bike safety in Ottawa. It won't suddmly have Ottawa change it's by-laws, but it will raise some awareness. It made a few people take notice. And who knows, maybe someone running for council in the next municipal election might be one of those people.

Jason Aug 23, 2005 12:31 PM said:

Jenn wasn't screaming obsenities at motorists and calliong them gas-guzzling nature killers. No, she threw a *party*.

Granted, she threw a party. And, yet, neither did the majority of passing motorists find it entertaining nor were they won over by the point of the protest, notwithstanding its jovial, good-humoured nature. My question is why? What is it about protests, whether they assume the form of a party or not, that distinguishes them from rational arguments that appeal to reasons and standards internal to some rival party's point of view? Protests, again, have a point. They seek to make a statement. Protests are never morally neutral. They may not entail screaming obscenities, but they do seek to convey the message that the actions of some party or other are wrong. In that, protests assume moral significance -- they take the form of a moral condemnation.

I'm not denying that Jenn made a few people think twice about car culture and bike safety in Ottawa. If the whole of Canada and, indeed, the world over were to rethink car culture and bike safety, it would, doubtless, be an estimable achievement. On this point, hopefully, we are agreed.

I'm also not denying the potential for protests, this one included, to attract participation. If, however, those who are attracted already share the basic premises of the protesters, then that would only confirm the remarks by MacIntyre quoted above. My point concerns those who do not share the protesters premises and who are therefore likely only to be angered or, at best, to remain wholly indifferent by what they see. To what logic and and to what standards could you appeal to rationally persuade them? In this case, we are, it need not be reiterated, talking about the majority population.

The Webgeek Aug 23, 2005 02:58 PM said:

My point concerns those who do not share the protesters premises and who are therefore likely only to be angered or, at best, to remain wholly indifferent by what they see. To what logic and and to what standards could you appeal to rationally persuade them?

First off, you're assuming that people will actually react favourably to logic. Bad premise right there. More often than not, reactions are a viseral, emotional thing and logic be damned. Try explaining evolution to a creationist. Try explaining the difference between a stem cell and an unborn child to a "pro-life" activist. And try getting those people convert me from my opinions on these matters. No matter how "logical" either of us thinks we're being, its not going to happen because there's too much of a emotional divide on the matter.

Secondly, you can't appeal to everyone. It won't happen. Ever. You can only appeal to those that want to get it. Some of those angry drivers will, after a bit of reflection, realize the issue. Others may rant to a co-worker or something, and then get an explination from said co-worker, and that'll help them get it. Perhaps other means of persuasion will occur. WHo knows. But, invariably, some of those angry drivers will never see the point. Ever. If the protest is simply designed to raise awareness, than as long as *some* people get it, then you're ok. As awareness increases over time, new "protests" or persuasive methods occur, and the idea snow-balls. Then enough other people will be persuaded that, in time the "right" thing happens regardless of Mr. or Ms. "I don't get it" thinks.

But then again, sometimes the protest doesn't work. (And maybe it shouldn't). Maybe the protestors, no mater how well-meaning, are just too far off the mainstream to make any real headway. No matter how long they keep fighting, its a losing battle and nothing will happen. Ever.

That happens a lot too.

accidental altruist Aug 23, 2005 03:25 PM said:

Thanks for wading-in in my absence Webgeek. :-)

So yeah, everything Webgeek said!


Everyone has a different idea of how the world should be, and we all have unique insights on how we can change things. Some of us act, some of us stay home and watch reality TV or sports.

Me, I'm an optimistic & gregarious extrovert - so as I work to make the world a better place I need to be out in the open.

When Mahar Arar was imprisoned I went to the Hill for one of the first vigils.

When the war was in full swing I joined "bombshells not bombs" - it's how I met Miss Vicky!

When it's Pride week I ride my bike in the Ottawa parade or travel to Toronto to march with the fine folks from Amnesty International.

When I got married I planned a bike parade and public wedding reception at WESTfest.

When I want to get people's attention about urban planning, responsible transportation and bikes I throw a parking meter party.

It's just the way I do things. Sometimes i'm taking a risk, but I learn from experience. I could just sit around over-analyzing and intellectualizing a perfect strategy forever - but it would take forever! "The world is run by those who show up." I plan on showing up.

accidental altruist Aug 23, 2005 03:33 PM said:

But then again, sometimes the protest doesn't work. (And maybe it shouldn't). Maybe the protestors, no mater how well-meaning, are just too far off the mainstream to make any real headway. No matter how long they keep fighting, its a losing battle and nothing will happen. Ever.

And I even agree with that statement - otherwise people like this might have a snowball's chance....



The Webgeek Aug 23, 2005 03:52 PM said:

Re: The Last link in your comment Accidental.

From the site:
WE DON'T JUST ENTERTAIN RACIST KIDS: WE CREATE THEM.

YIKES.
And to think at one point the views they're trying to promote were very mainstream. It took a lot of protesting (and education) to really turn the tide on those issues. Obviously there's still a lot more to go...

DEADwrong Aug 23, 2005 05:19 PM said:

WE DON'T JUST ENTERTAIN RACIST KIDS: WE CREATE THEM.

That's scary! I've got to go back and listen to the MP3 stream as yet - just to know - but what is on that page is scary. Iron cross background? Yoikes!

But if I may: Today's citizen has a photo of some Chinese; 2 on regualar bicycles and two people side by side on a tricycle with pedals for each of them. It's an article in regard to the rapidly growing spread between the rich and poor in China and the problems associated with that.

And the Chinese on bicycles reminds me of the Chinese circus about 10 years ago when they first demonstrated getting 14 people doing the pyramid on one bicycle. At that point they said there were enough bicycles in China for all Chinese to ride were they all capable of that trick. Hmm? And now the race for more Mercedes and Rolls Royce's is getting out of hand? It's also bizarre to consider that Hong Kong has more Rolls Royces than any other place in the world. Help!

Jason Aug 23, 2005 05:24 PM said:

First off, you're assuming that people will actually react favourably to logic. Bad premise right there. More often than not, reactions are a viseral, emotional thing and logic be damned.

Actually, I didn’t make that assumption, but that’s a separate issue, to which I’ll return below. My point is this: if you rule out rational persuasion as an effective means to achieve your desired goals, you then leave yourself with only one option, namely, non-rational persuasion. And, if you then concede, as you seem to have already done, that non-rational persuasion is indeed a legitimate means to achieve your desired goals, then my question becomes, what is the substance of that non-rational persuasion? Moreover, what would such non-rational persuasion seek to achieve? Are you seeking merely to effect a change in behaviour or to effect a change in attitudes first and behaviour as a consequence? And, if it is the case, as you’ve argued, that, “there's too much of a emotional divide on the matter,” then are you thereby forfeiting any commitment to effect a change in the attitudes of those who do not share your basic premises? On the other hand, if you are, in fact, seeking to effect a change in attitudes, how would you achieve such an effect through non-rational persuasion?

The contrast between rational and non-rational persuasion is, I believe, of more then trifling significance. The first entails that one party influences another to adopt a particular course of action by helping that other party to actually see the merits of that course action; by giving reasons that would effect a change in attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions. The second type of persuasion does not provide reasons. It seeks to bring about a change in behavior without regard for the rival party’s attitudes or beliefs. In a word, non-rational persuasion is tantamount to force and coercion. Those who would leave their cars at home because all the parking spots have been taken up by bikes would have been forced to change their behavior.

That you should concede to the inevitability of non-rational persuasion might be some cause for alarm. For if you feel entitled to engage in non-rational persuasion on the basis that, “there's too much of a emotional divide,” then those who stand on the other side of that divide may very well feel entitled to engage in the very same forms of non-rational persuasion. They may regard you just as you regard them, namely, deaf to logic and reasoning and therefore a legitimate object of manipulation and coercion. In that case, your efforts and their efforts would amount to nothing more than coercion and counter-coercion. And, according to this new logic, whoever coerces most effectively wins. Would this be a terribly inaccurate reading of things? You're invited to offer a different perspective.

Returning to your remark concerning the supposed incompatibility between emotions and logic, there’s a
very solid argument that claims otherwise. This weblog, however, wouldn’t be the forum to discuss it.

accidental altruist Aug 24, 2005 01:04 AM said:

how many hundreds of social smokers quit because of Ottawa's smoking bylaw?

would you count legislation as coercion?

The Webgeek Aug 24, 2005 07:21 AM said:

if you rule out rational persuasion as an effective means to achieve your desired goals, you then leave yourself with only one option, namely, non-rational persuasion.

Why are the two mutually exclusive? Where did anyone say we had to forgo conversation in order to throw a parking lot party? In fact, had any of those angry drivers came over to Jenn and hubby to talk, I'm sure there would have been plenty of rational persuasion going on.

The problem is, you can only do so much with rational persuasion as your *only* tool. Not everyone gets to hear about, or join in on the discussion. I, for instance, cannot walk up to George Bush and explain to him my reasons for disliking his foriegn policy or his stance on soft-wood lumber. Jenn can't effectively tell every single driver in Ottawa why she thinks they should ride a bicycle more often. But, with large protest marches on parliment hill during Bush's last visit and with Jenn's parking lot party, the notion that we want change can be shown and, hopefully, make it to the media.

The only issue with the media is they need a hook. So, in the case of large protests, they seem to like to zoom in on the small percentage of kerchief-faced maroons throwing baricades at the cops. Maroons that the rest of the protesters wanted gone just as much as the cops. In the case of Jenn, shge throws a party. She greets media personally, she gets to control the hook.

In other words, there's something to be said for panache

Flanders Aug 24, 2005 10:23 AM said:

All this talk of protests makes me think about Prague and the IMF meeting in 2001...I was dispatched to cover the protest story and found that the organizers (in as much as there were organizers of the many disparate groups and in as much as they had control over everyone who wanted to make an anti-globalization point) had divided the protest into three distinct zones:

There was the Pink zone - flamboyant protesters loaded with "panache" who were decorating the shields of the riot police and dancing to festive music in splashy costumes. NBC and ABC had cameras here...This was south of the building where the meeting was happening.

There was the White zone - at the foot of a major bridge that spanned a valley north of the meeting hall and which led directly to the site. The bridge was sealed off by police, making it very hard to get in or out of the site. The protesters here were primarily the Italian Ya Basta group - who would chant for 10 minutes, then charge the barricades furiously until being beaten back by the police, then chant some more, etc. There was also a naked guy on top of a street light pole with his penis poked through a hole in a dollar bill. There were some TV cameras here as well, I saw a Globe and Mail reporter here too...

Finally there was the Black zone, down in the valley and to the west of the meeting hall, where the protesters looked to be mainly skinheads, and a running battle ensued involving ripping up paving stones and lighting fires on one hand, and firing percussion grenades and tear gas on the other. I didn't see many other reporters around here although the black zone action got the most press (you could hear the percussion grenades for miles). I had the feeling, though I admit I can't point to any evidence here, that the Black Zone folks were just up for a bit of aggro and smashing things (and the police in this zone, although not the others that I saw, here were happy to fight back).

So were any of these groups more "effective" than others? One could credit the Ya Basta folks for causing the meeting to be shortened by sealing off an entrance to the hall (much to my relief). Was the cause of anti-globalization advanced? Possibly. Attention was certainly brought to bear on the IMF. I'm not a believer in violent protests, but I am glad folks care enough about issues to show up.

I know this is a far cry from the original parking meter/bicycle protest issue, but the thread seemed to be headed into "what kind of protest is effective" territory.

accidental altruist Aug 24, 2005 10:46 AM said:

sounds similar to my experience at the Summit of the Americas. i was a protester who stayed mostly in the Green Zones (which sounds like the pink zones in Prague)... the black zones were where all the media coverage concentrated.

sadly, the green zones were tear gassed almost as much as the black zones. :-S

The Webgeek Aug 24, 2005 12:45 PM said:

I think with massive anti-globalization/anti-war type protests, there isn't really much of a unified message to put forth -- other than to generally decry whatever the participants are all so vehimently against. As you said, they're just a bunch of disperate groups trying to push various agendas under one "uber-umbrella" cause; and mixed in there are those that inveriably are "just up for a bit of aggro and smashing things" (let's call them schleck-disturbers).

In these cases the message isn't so much what's being chanted, but how many people are actually chanting. Maybe amungst the crowds and groups, there can be some cross-pollination of ideas and ideals. But at the end of the day its the fact that massive numbers of people across all manner of political spectrums are willing to show up to protest is what hopefully gets noted by the powers that be.

Jason Aug 24, 2005 01:16 PM said:

Why are the two mutually exclusive? Where did anyone say we had to forgo conversation in order to throw a parking lot party? In fact, had any of those angry drivers came over to Jenn and hubby to talk, I'm sure there would have been plenty of rational persuasion going on.

That’s really quite incredible, given your earlier comments concerning the futility of logic:

First off, you're assuming that people will actually react favourably to logic. Bad premise right there. More often than not, reactions are a viseral, emotional thing and logic be damned. Try explaining evolution to a creationist. Try explaining the difference between a stem cell and an unborn child to a "pro-life" activist. And try getting those people convert me from my opinions on these matters. No matter how "logical" either of us thinks we're being, its not going to happen because there's too much of a emotional divide on the matter.

Are you now suggesting that those angry, emotional drivers will “actually react favourably to logic”? If you’re certain that “there would have been plenty of rational persuasion going on,” then would logic have been damned or not? How would you propose crossing the emotional divide? Secondly, why would those drivers have been angry and emotional in the first place? Would it not have been because of the protest? And, if emotion is, as you suggest, an impediment to logic, then why excite their anger in the first place? Wouldn’t creating an emotional divide or exacerbating an existing divide be self-defeating if, in fact, the eventual goal is rational persuasion?

Consider also another of your previous remarks:

Secondly, you can't appeal to everyone. It won't happen. Ever. You can only appeal to those that want to get it.

How do you propose to persuade those who don’t “want to get it”? And, what if the majority population doesn't "want to get it"? That’s been my main question. Let me put it another way. Is goal of the protest merely to get media time so as to share the message with the broader public and rationally persuade the masses of drivers to voluntarily give up their cars? Or is the goal of the protest to get media time so as to attract those who “want to get it” and expand the protest so as to force those who “don’t get it” to give up their cars? I’m unclear on this point.

how many hundreds of social smokers quit because of Ottawa's smoking bylaw?

would you count legislation as coercion?


A very pertinent question. Why did they give up smoking? Because they were rationally convinced of the health risks associated with smoking (a point on which I seriously doubt they required much convincing) or because of the inconvenience and the obstacles created by the Ottawa Non-Smoking By-laws?

But why raise that example? You could also ask how many Americans would stop burning the American flag if the US Congress were to pass, as they seem set to pass, a resolution that would amend the US Constitution, thereby giving the US Congress, “the power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.” If flag burning were to completely cease as a result of such legislation, would it be because the general population is rationally persuaded of the outrageousness of burning the flag?

The USA PATRIOT Act was also the result of federal legislation. We need not, I hope, even mention the widespread opposition to the PATRIOT Act on the grounds that it violates many basic civil liberties. Is a particular course of action justified solely on the grounds that it’s the result of legislation? If not, to what standard and to what logic would you appeal to justify a proposed piece of legislation? If there is no such standard and logic, then the law merely becomes a tool to be used this way and that, to serve the interests of whichever groups are most skilled at manipulating it.

Just as importantly, the question concerning whether legislation amounts to coercion betrays an underlying paternalistic attitude. It assumes that those who would enact your desired piece of legislation would know what’s best for the public interest, even if the public doesn’t know what’s best for itself; even if the public may not even agree, as in the case of the PATRIOT Act, with those who claim to know what’s best for it. This would not be entirely different from a parent believing that he or she knows what’s best for his or her child. According to what you seem to be suggesting, those who are not rationally convinced of the merits of your views would have be to forced by legislation to follow a particular course of action they would otherwise not follow. In this case, they may even be opposed to such legislation. Given the many remarks about angry and emotional drivers, I’m inclined to believe they may very well be opposed to such legislation. My question would be, would you not describe such legislation as coercion?

Jason Aug 24, 2005 01:37 PM said:

I know this is a far cry from the original parking meter/bicycle protest issue, but the thread seemed to be headed into "what kind of protest is effective" territory.

That and, hopefully, the "what is the point of this or that protest" territory. If protest is a means to some higher end, then it's only natural to inquire into the worth and feasibility of that higher end. If protest becomes, as it often has become, an end in itself, a cultural ritual of sorts, where inquiries into ultimate ends and purposes are either foregone or perhaps even scorned, then it would not seem outlandish to say that such protests sadly lack any point.

The Webgeek Aug 24, 2005 03:51 PM said:

Ah....
using earlier comments out of context to attempt to invalidate my later points. Also known as the "semantic bastard" approach to discussions.

Fine. Lets walk through this on a step by step basis then, shall we?

1: Not everyone reacts badly to logic. Some do, some don't. And it all depends on the topic at hand.
2: For those that do, it is difficult to reach them on a one on one basis. Limited time, resources, funding, etc...
3: using a non-traditional method of reaching these people (i.e. a "protest") will sometime trigger the opportunity to engage in one-on-one "rational" discussion
3.1: Some people will also "get" the meaning behind said protest immediately and not need rational discussion.
3.2: Some people will begin debate about the protest elsewhere, further spreading the chance for debate, though not necessarily with the original "protesters".
3.3: Other times, people simply won't get it. They'll be turned off by the message and/or methodology at hand.
3.3.1: If so, perhaps they will be persuaded later on by another method.
3.3.2: or they won't. they're a lost cause and they'll never be persuaded.
3.3.3: or they'll be semantic bastards about it and just blather on for the sake of arguing, boring the crap out of everyone else.

Now, on to your current points:

How do you propose to persuade those who don’t “want to get it”?
Use other methods. Or not. Not everyone will agree on everything at the same time. It's human nature.

And, what if the majority population doesn't "want to get it"?
Then, usually, the protest message goes away. Sometimes it will reemerge later,in another form, and might be successful then. Other times, it just goes away.

That’s been my main question.
Really? I thought your main question is "why protest at all?" I guess I was mistaken.

Let me put it another way.
Please do.

Is goal of the protest merely to get media time so as to share the message with the broader public and rationally persuade the masses of drivers to voluntarily give up their cars?
not merely, but yes. Yes it is.

Or is the goal of the protest to get media time so as to attract those who “want to get it” and expand the protest so as to force those who “don’t get it” to give up their cars?
Also, yes.

I’m unclear on this point.
Actually, you seem unclear on the concept. Both "points" are valid concurrently.

Again, some people will never get it. Ever. Like with gay marriage, or stem cell research, or even racial harmony; no matter what we do, some people will ALWAYS be opposed to these things. Can't help it. The goal of a protest is rarely to "convert" these people. But there are those that either opposed somthing without knowing all the facts, or were misinformed. There are also those who may not even have known about an issue. These are the people protests tend to aim at. The goal of protests is to both increase the number of people who agree with a principal or ideal *and* to eventually effect change so that those who oppose the ideal can not hinder it's adoption. Sometimes those doing the hindering are in power, sometimes not. It would be great if we all could agree on the same set of things together, but that doesn't happen. Too many people with too any different views of "what's right". Even in a "society" of two (such as a long term relationship or marriage) there isn't always complete simpatico.

Now, to achieve the "convince as many people as possible" portion of a furthering your ideal, it is sometimes necessary to use unconventional methods to reach them. People can be very insular and not look past their own little lives. Sometimes you need to educate them about things they didn't even realize was "a problem". But, in using unconventional methods, you run the risk of also alienating a certain percentage of the people your reaching out to. Some of them, were already lost, some might not have been had another method been used.

The tricky part of a protest is maximizing the potential ratio of people who get it vs the people who don't. A bad ratio may be due to the possibility that the methodology is flawed (i.e. launching barricades at cops during anti-globalization marches)or it may be due to the possiblity that the protest vision is flawed (i.e. wanting to turn white kids into racists through song). Either way, there will (clearly) always be someone who doesn't get the protest message -- or at the very least desperately try and prove that it wasn't the best way of reaching out. Hopefully the benefit of the people you did reach outweighs the "loss" of the people who you didn't.

So, was Jenn's protest successful? Well, Miss Vicky's Mom and her hubby, Amkay, the reporter, and the by-law officer in the 5th picture seem to have "got it". The Byward Market Association T-shirt wearers in picture 3 may or may not have gotten it, but at least they now know that at the very least, bicycles are allowed to park in parking spots. You obviously didn't get it, as has the glowering fellow in the first photo, most likely. Seems a fair ratio to me.

Next point:
A very pertinent question. Why did they give up smoking? Because they were rationally convinced of the health risks associated with smoking (a point on which I seriously doubt they required much convincing)
Maybe.

or because of the inconvenience and the obstacles created by the Ottawa Non-Smoking By-laws?
Again, Maybe, or a combination of the two. The legislation might have been "the final nail in the coffin" so to speak. Also a possibility, they were forced to quit solely due to legislation, and later realized the benefits of quitting. Either way, the majority of people complained about the health risks of smoking in public enough that change was effected, in the form of legislation, so that people who insisted on doing it were stopped. Bad for the smokers, good for the (growing) majority of non-smokers.

[blah blah blah] “the power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.” [blah blah] PATRIOT act [blah blah blah]
Nice little "semantic bastard" move there. The "this particular example is bad, so all similar examples are bad" tactic. Unfortunately you picked two examples of legislation that were being put forth by those in power who are trying to hinder a specific set of ideals (free speech and, well, freedom in general). Legislation is some times the result of protest (as with smoking, and gay marriage) and sometimes the target of protest. Its all on a case by case basis.

And now, the final point:
If protest is a means to some higher end, then it's only natural to enquire into the worth and feasibility of that higher end.
Fair enough.

If protest becomes, as it often has become, an end in itself,a cultural ritual of sorts, where enquiries into ultimate ends and purposes are either foregone or perhaps even scorned,then it would not seem outlandish to say that such protests sadly lack any point.
Yes. Yes it would seem outlandish to say that. Again, not all protests work, or are worthwhile, but some are. But Just because something is a ritual doesn't mean it's not still useful. Remembrance day is, in reality, a protest of sorts. It *should* make us remember the sacrifices of the past, so we need not repeat them in the future. Sometimes protesting a "foregone conclusion" is the best way of insuring it remains a foregone conclusion. Not everybody gets that. Furthermore, a lot of things that we now mostly take for granted (like women's suffrage, "equal" rights and the abolishment of slavery) were scorned in there time, so just because an idea is scorned today doesn't necessarily make it invalid.

Look, I agree that some protests are bad, or that some protesters idiots, but that doesn't make all protests bad and all protesors idiots. Just because a protest fails to convince *every single* person of its merit doesn't make it a bad protest.

Anyway, something tells me your just arguing this just because you hate hunting for parking.

accidental altruist Aug 24, 2005 04:15 PM said:

I could have missed something. Has this particular post has generated more comments than any other?

along with debating protesting in general, ya'll have had bikes on the brain WAY more than usual haven't ya?

;-)

accidental altruist Aug 24, 2005 04:17 PM said:

well... except the "stiff upper lip" thread which i shant ever mention again.

The Webgeek Aug 24, 2005 04:21 PM said:

well, I think the lack of fresh material on the main page is also a factor...

Jason Aug 24, 2005 05:23 PM said:

...or they'll be semantic bastards about it and just blather on for the sake of arguing, boring the crap out of everyone else.

It’s unfortunate that you should turn this discussion into a personal matter, even to the point of descending into distasteful and exceedingly immature personal attacks with remarks such as this. I’ve made a sincere effort to understand your point of view concerning a matter about which there are obviously no simple answers. Moreover, I’ve made a sincere effort to be respectful in the process. Bear in mind, I've asked questions. Nowhere did I pronounce moral judgments, let alone engage in childish name-calling. If, for whatever reason, you don’t like the questions, you are, of course, under no pressure, moral or otherwise, to answer them. However, to descend into childlish personal attacks instead of actually answering my questions (which, incidentally, you've sadly and repeatedly failed to do) is to turn the discussion away from the issue about which I originally inquired and to get mired in polemics instead.

Given your remarks about "logic" and the "emotional divide," it’s surprising that, when invited to rationally discuss your point of view, you should exhibit the very sort of "vicseral, emotional" reactionary attitude you insist is a barrier to logic in the first place.

The Webgeek Aug 24, 2005 06:08 PM said:

t’s unfortunate that you should turn this discussion into a personal matter, even to the point of descending into distasteful and exceedingly immature personal attacks with remarks such as this.

To be honest, that was pointed just as squarly at me as it was at you. I was being just as semanitic and long-winded. Perhaps I should have marked that as being sarcasm....

My appologies.

The Webgeek Aug 24, 2005 06:14 PM said:

However, to descend into childlish personal attacks instead of actually answering my questions

actually, I honestly thought I had descended into childish attacks *AND* answered your questions...

(there was sarcasm up in that last comment)

missvickysmother Aug 24, 2005 07:55 PM said:

OK boys & girls....a mother's job is never done... still breaking up the squabbles. When you're done using your brains as weapons, and have decided that your war with words is a tie, how about a new topic for this blog?..... I'm going to write about Noise Pollution tomorrow.... so everybody think about that and get your responses ready.

The Webgeek Aug 24, 2005 08:01 PM said:

*Hangs head in shame. Grinds toe into dirt. pouts*
ok Miss Vicky's Mom....


DEADwrong Aug 24, 2005 09:27 PM said:

I've enjoyed this mind war. Very enlightening.

I'm driven to think of the rational legislated coercion of drug laws - pushed primarily by the USA - and in the face of the total failure of their drug law against alcohol - prohibition - which just might have made them realize that the more you try to stop it, the more you will likely drive people into it.

Um? I'm more than prepared about noise pollution. I've been campaigning about bad soundproofing in multiple family housing for 25 years and find no one really interested in Peace on Earth in the home - and possibly anywhere really.

If anyone cares to check out some of my web space on the noise thing try here
or my blog which has a few images and comment not on the peace site here

accidental altruist Aug 24, 2005 11:41 PM said:

i'd just like to hear about the alternatives to protest that might be available to a "common citizen" before we move on.

i'm seriously interested.

Miss Vicky Aug 25, 2005 01:27 PM said:

Thanks, Mom, for your intervention.

We can have another discussion on protest and effecting change another time. Having tried various routes, I do have a lot to say about it. But not right now. I'm on VACATION :P

accidental altruist Aug 25, 2005 10:29 PM said:



if i'm a mom too does that mean i can reopen conversations that were previously shut down? ;-) i think the flame war bits have been snuffed out.

I was actually hoping that Jason might have some suggestions. as i said, i'm interested.

honest.


Jason Aug 26, 2005 12:48 PM said:

i'd just like to hear about the alternatives to protest that might be available to a "common citizen" before we move on.

Suggesting alternatives to a particular protest hinges on the goal of that protest. I'm still not clear as to what that goal is.

If you're merely trying to educate the public, so as to rationally persuade the general population to follow a particular course of action, I'm inclined to believe that there are indeed alternatives to protest. It's not at all clear to me why educating the public necessitates protest. Moreover, if protesting generates heated emotions of the kind that effectively preclude rational discussion and rational persuasion, then it would seem self-defeating to excite the anger of the very people you’re trying to educate. Claiming victory with the by-law officers or with those who already happen to agree with your point of view is not tantamount to educating the public. It’s tantamount to winning allies in a war against the public.

If, however, you're not hoping to rationally persuade the public; if you’re hoping to eventually force drivers out of the Markets precisely because they do not agree with your views, then perhaps expanding your protest, winning allies, and eventually securing legislation is a fitting means to achieve that end. The only question concerns the ethics of forcing people to follow a particular course of action against their will. You raised the example of Ottawa's Non-Smoking By-Laws. It appeared as though you were suggesting that legislation was not tantamount to coercion. However, I raised counter-examples to suggest that legislation can in some cases amount to coercion. Moreover, Hugh raised a far more salient example, namely, that of prohibition, which failed precisely because it attempted to force a particular course of action upon an unwilling public.

Bear in mind, the target of your protest is not the evil government or an evil corporation. The target in this case is the general population. Uniting public opinion so as to force the government or to force a corporation to follow a particular course of action is one thing. However, forcing the general population is quite another. My question is, if the majority population does not agree with your views and cannot be convinced of your views, then are you willing to force them to follow a particular course of action?

Again, suggesting alternatives to your protest depends on the goal of your protest. It depends on your expectations of the public, what you are willing to do, and how far you are willing to go, to achieve your goal. If you have a benign view of the public, a view according to which the public is amenable to rational persuasion, then I fail to see why protest is necessary. If, however, you do not view the public as amenable to rational persuasion, but rather as immune to logic and reasoning, then perhaps protesting against the public is entirely appropriate. Either way, I believe MacIntyre’s quote concerning protest is strikingly accurate: protest cannot be rationally effective.

Jason Aug 26, 2005 12:59 PM said:

On a separate, though somewhat related note, if rational discussion over controversial matters is not possible here on this weblog, then that is perhaps an indication that rational discussion will not be possible in the streets between protesters and the angry drivers against whom they are protesting. Intervention, much like angry emotions, is indicative of the failure of rational dialogue. Sadly, we cannot count on mothers, God bless their souls, to intervene between protesters and angry drivers.

accidental altruist Aug 26, 2005 04:30 PM said:

Suggesting alternatives to a particular protest hinges on the goal of that protest. I'm still not clear as to what that goal is.

The CBC interview soundbite got the basic gist : "It's just about getting into people's consciousness and reminding them that there are other ways to get around than in gas powered vehicles".

For those of you lurking - fear not - I'm not about to start a flame war or other such goofiness.
A: It's not my style.
B: I'm saving all my passion for Pride weekend!

:-)

accidental altruist Aug 26, 2005 04:37 PM said:

... what does "parasitic on division" mean?

Jason Aug 27, 2005 12:31 PM said:

The CBC interview soundbite got the basic gist : "It's just about getting into people's consciousness and reminding them that there are other ways to get around than in gas powered vehicles".

This doesn’t answer my question, but that’s fine :-)

... what does "parasitic on division" mean?

Protest thrives on division, discord, conflict. The deeper the conflict, the more shrill the tone of protest. Protest is meaningless outside of conflict. To protest against the public is to announce a fundamental conflict between you and the public. To expand a protest would thus be to deepen that conflict. If you are devoted to convincing the public of your views, then it would seem self-defeating to encourage more conflict when consensus should be the desired outcome. Hence, my questions concerning the ultimate goal of the protest and my questions concerning force. As far as I can see, those questions have not been answered.

accidental altruist Aug 27, 2005 05:06 PM said:

I guess we're at an impass. *shrugs shoulders*

Have a good weekend!

The Webgeek Aug 29, 2005 02:55 PM said:

Jason,
You keep asking what the point of this protest was, and we keep answering you: essentially saying "To raise awareness and help change people's minds". To which you reply "that doesn't answer my question". Respectfully, yes it does. It may not be the answer you're fishing for, but it *is* the answer.

I think, the issue here is deeper. I think you have a very skewed vision of what a protest is; specifically, you seem to think (or at very least state in your last comment) that Protest thrives on division, discord, conflict.

That's a fallacy. Simply put, protest thrives on a desire to affect change. Protest is one or more people (figuratively) standing up and saying "I don't like this. Change it." about a specific issue. That's it. No more, no less. Now, the way some people choose to make their statement may, in fact be divisive, discordian, or conflictive in nature, but that would be indicative of that particular protest then, not all protests. Also, discord, divisiveness or conflict may also arise if someone chooses to react to a protest in such a manner. This may even be expected at time, but is not, necessarily the point of the protest, or the fault of the protester. It's the fault of the person doing the reacting, and the result of how they choose to react.

You also go on to state To protest against the public is to announce a fundamental conflict between you and the public.
This again seems to indicate a misunderstanding of what a protest is for, or about. It's not "against" the public. It's "against", or more specifically, for an ideal, such as "anti-globalization" , "less car traffic in urban areas" or the now cliche'ed "world peace". The hope of protest is (or should be) to inform, enlighten, and garner support from the public. Not be against it.

Also, from your comment: To expand a protest would thus be to deepen that conflict. If you are devoted to convincing the public of your views, then it would seem self-defeating to encourage more conflict when consensus should be the desired outcome.
This can only become true if conflict is the goal of the protest, and if people choose to react to said protest in a conflicting manner. If either of these is false, then no conflict exists, so it cannot deepen. In many cases (like said parking lot party) the hope *is* to build consensus, as much as possible.

Candlelight vigils are protests. Things as simple as not shopping at Wal*Mart can be considered a form of protest. Handing out pamphlets on a street corner can be a form of protest. Marrying the person you love is, in certain case of same sex or multi-ethnic relationships, not just an act of devotion, but also (sadly still) a protest. Legally paying for a parking space and using it to park your vehicle is, in this case, a protest. All of these things are not, inherently, rooted in conflict. Far from it. They are simply an attempt to affect a change.

However, For every candle holder, there is someone who disagrees with why that person is holding said candle. For every non-Wal*Mart shopper, there's somebody who shops there exclusively, and may even think that everyone should. For everybody who hands out pamphlets, there's someone who dismisses it all as lies and propaganda -- sometimes vocally and with great anger. For every multi-racial and/or same-sex marriage, there's someone who considers it an affront to their religious and/or cultural values and possibly to the moral fibre of society. And, in Ms. Altruist's case, legally using a parking space to park her vehicle of choice annoyed a person (or persons) who wanted to use that spot instead. This does not mean that these forms of protest were inherently divisive of promoted conflict. It means that *some* people chose to react to it in such a manner.

Where you seem to be misinformed here, I think, is that you seem to feel that this protest (and more than likely *all* protest) was meant specifically to annoy said driver(s). You're wrong. This was, as stated several times, not the point of the protest. It may have been an unfortunate and inevitable partial outcome, but it wasn't the point. It wasn't meant to annoy anyone: in fact she chose a form of protest -- a party -- meant to be as inclusive and non-combative as possible. It was meant to inform and educate people, and to garner support for her cause.

In this she succeeded exceedingly well. She got support from the Bylaw officer, who,m no doubt, sent out a memo to other bylaw officers, informing them of the finer points of parking law in regards to human powered vehicles. As a result, the Byward Market Association folks were no doubt informed of these facts. She garnered potential support though the media and here, through this site, she got the support of some fellow readers. Now, as for the detractors: we know of one specifically, photographed above, that was annoyed (maybe more); and possibly another, who complained to the Byward Market Association folks. That's two people. We don't know about the people who saw the sign, got it, and drove off. Or simply assumed is must be some busker thing and went away unaware. So there really is no proof that she was causing great conflict. She annoyed one or two guys who wouldn't have gotten the spot anyway since some other car would most likely have been parked there.

And, as for these annoyed driver(s), who's to say that they didn't upon further introspection or discussion of the event with others, come to realize that there initial dismay was misplaced? Just because they didn't immediately "get" the protest, doesn't mean it didn't ultimately have the desired effect on them.

Besides, if she parked a motorcycle, or smart-car, or electric vehicle in that same spot, would the complaints have arisen? I doubt it. But because she was parked there, which was her legal right, they got annoyed. They weren't pissed off that her bike was there. They were pissed that they couldn't be. They, wrongly, felt entitled to have that spot. They felt their vehicle was more important than Ms. Altruist's. They -- to put it bluntly -- were wrong. Hopefully they can, in time, realize the error of their ways.

Jason Aug 29, 2005 10:55 PM said:

You keep asking what the point of this protest was, and we keep answering you: essentially saying "To raise awareness and help change people's minds". To which you reply "that doesn't answer my question". Respectfully, yes it does. It may not be the answer you're fishing for, but it *is* the answer.

This is become extremely tiresome. It was obviously unclear that I have no interest in polemics. If you insist that I’m “fishing” for answers, then that implies that my questions are somehow insincere. In which case, why bother answering them? Moreover, by insisting that I’m “fishing” for answers, it also suggests that you are not, in fact, preoccupied with mutual understanding, but rather with announcing, in an unabashedly declarative and incredibly tactless fashion, what the definitive truth of the matter is. Two can play that game. It’s the game of assertion and counter-assertion. Again, I’m not interested in asserting what the truth of the matter is. I posed questions, not definitive pronouncements. Again, if you don’t like the questions I ask, you are under no obligation, moral or institutional, to answer them. However, for you to say that my questions have been answered, when I myself cannot see how my questions have been answered, is no less tactless than resorting to your earlier name-calling. It’s actually incredibly arrogant.

If you would spend even half as much time attempting to secure an understanding of a rival point of view as you do declaring the definitive truth of the matter, then perhaps this exchange would at least be interesting.

I’ll repeat what I said before: your responses do not answer my questions. My questions have concerned persuasion, both rational and coercive. My questions have also concerned means and ends. Your responses leave much to be desired. They also do not cohere very well with those of Madame Altruiste. Moreover, your characterization of protest strikes me as sadly wanting. If you wish to identify standards and conventions of meaning to which we could commonly appeal, that would be a different matter.

If my questions go answered, I’m happy to leave it at that. However, I gather you’re not. Moreover, I gather you’re not happy if I find your answers wanting, as I have so far.

The Webgeek Aug 29, 2005 11:49 PM said:

Thats twice now you've brushed off my entire post based solely on the (incredibly tactless) contents of the first paragraph. Me thinks thy dost protest too much.

Either way, for the benifit of my tiny little brain, in 25 (small) words or less, please reiterate your main question in regards to this protest. I will try and glean your meaning from that -- if at all possible, given my obviously limited capacity, and apperent inability to "secure an understanding of a rival point of view" -- and offer up what meager scrap of (lets be charitable here, and call it) insight I may have.

Jason Aug 30, 2005 01:12 AM said:

Me thinks thy dost protest too much.

And methinks thou wouldst stand to gain if thou wouldst only be so inclined to read a bit of Michel Foucault. By insisting that I'm "fishing" for answers, which I gather you still do, given your silly remarks above, under which paradigm do you think you'd best fit? Moreover, if I'm "fishing" for answers, then, again, why bother answering them?

The Webgeek Aug 30, 2005 06:32 AM said:

Why? Why Not?

Come On. Humour me.

Your question in 25 words or less. Make it clear as a bell. I'll deal soley with that.

pinklitva Aug 30, 2005 07:16 AM said:

Aaahhh the Foucault-ian defense.......are we sure this hasn't got anything to do with the Nazi's? ;-)

Miss Vicky Aug 30, 2005 08:23 AM said:

When did my blog become a graduate seminar? I'm having bad flashbacks.

Jason Aug 30, 2005 12:15 PM said:

Why? Why Not?

I've already answered this. You're bent on polemics, whereas I'm not. Moreover, I think it's clear that you're not entirely certain as to what polemics are and why some people should choose not to engage in them. You and I do not share a common set of premises. We do not, for example, agree on the nature of protest. Your view of protest is clearly more sympathetic than mine. Hence, there is no point in asking questions that will be answered on premises that I do not accept. Asking you about protest would not be entirely dissimilar to asking an evangelical Christian about the doctrine of the Trinity. Again, I'm happy to leave it at that. However, you're obviously not.

Again, if rational and respectful discussion over controversial matters between people of two very different points of view is not possible here on this weblog, then that is perhaps an indication that, between the protesters and the angry drivers, there would not have been "plenty of rational persuasion going on." If your polemics on this blog are any indication of how you would engage with angry drivers on the streets, then I'm inclined to believe that the problem would not lie with the drivers. If those drivers do not agree with your premises, would you resort to childish name-calling? Would you hope to persuade them with elegant remarks like "It may not be the answer you're fishing for, but it *is* the answer"? And, is it not the case that you are protesting precisely because you do not share the same premises as the drivers? Moreover, if you hope to compel the masses of drivers to "realize the error of their ways," what separates your attitude from that of the evangelical Christian? (I'm inclined to believe that the priestly attitude is part of the problem, not the solution.)

So that it's clear, I don't mind talking about polemics, although I won't engage in them. Polemics are highly relevant to the topic of persuasion and the topic of means and ends. That you should instinctively turn to polemics to address the issues about which I inquired from the outset is of great relevance to the topic of protest and why I believe rational persuasion isn't really your goal. So that it's clear, polemics are not about rational persuasion.

When did my blog become a graduate seminar? I'm having bad flashbacks.

Bear in mind, I linked to an interview in which dialogue, something that presumably takes place on blogs, is the first topic of discussion. It is, I believe, a very illuminating interview on the difference between two types of dialogue, one constructive and the other destructive. By asking, " When did my blog become a graduate seminar?," are you implying that linking to such an interview is somehow more inappropriate than, say, Mr. Webgeek's venting his frustrations by descending into childish name-calling? To be sure, childish name-calling is something one rarely associates with graduate students, but rather with children. Between the two, with which would you rather have your blog associated?

Aaahhh the Foucault-ian defense.......are we sure this hasn't got anything to do with the Nazi's?

As to what Foucault's remarks on polemics have to do with the Nazis, I'm inclined to believe that you didn't actually read them, as would be perfectly in keeping with most people who refer to Foucault.

Again, I appreciate all the attention. It's obviously a testament to the power of protest. However, it fails to address my questions, which concern the relationship between protest and rational persuasion. Moving the discussion toward polemics only confirms my conviction that protest cannot be rationally effective. A very strange way to return to the topic about which I had originally inquired...

The Webgeek Aug 30, 2005 12:53 PM said:

From you last post:
You and I do not share a common set of premises. We do not, for example, agree on the nature of protest. Your view of protest is clearly more sympathetic than mine. Hence, there is no point in asking questions that will be answered on premises that I do not accept.

You come in here putting forth the words of Alasdair MacIntyre -- essentailly declaring all protest as combative and divisive -- even calling it parisitic at one point. You then refused to see any other point as valid. When I offered up *several* examples of non-combative protests and gave you more than one explination of how protest can be beyond mere "self-assertive shrillness", you ignored it, or dismissed it as "too lacking" or simply descided that my tone was too offensive to reply to. Then, when I ask for clarification, so that we may attempt to get to the core of this discorse, you come in here and call *me* a polemist and insuate that I must me too uneducated to have rational discussion.

Well then, from your pal Foucaut:
The polemicist , on the other hand, proceeds encased in privileges that he possesses in advance and will never agree to question.

If anyone in this thread has been polemic, my dear Jason, it has been you. You started from a skewed view of Protest, and refused to question that view, using incresingly condisending means to simply dismiss any attempt to argue a counter argument.

accidental altruist Aug 30, 2005 01:11 PM said:

it's funny. only 10 years ago it seemed that my riding a bike in a skirt was an act of protest.

luckily, times are changing and i no longer get as many cat calls or comments like, "look! a chick... in a skirt... on a bike!".

i dunno. i never thought I was going to turn you into a hard core HPVOoOer or something. is that what you thought?

so, if i'm supposed to read Michel Foucault then can i expect you to read Engineers of the Imagination? then we'll start a book club or something.






http://www.welfare-state.org/g eneral/pubpages/engineers.htm

pinklitva Aug 30, 2005 02:42 PM said:

You're right Miss Vicky. Graduate Seminar.

And Jason- I was being ironic and referring to something Webgeek said ages ago about when references to Nazi Germany are made...what was that called Webgeek? It was very clever...

Wearing a skirt while riding a bike a form of protest - i cracked up when I read that! You are an absolute CAD, Accidental Altruist! Keep it up!

The Webgeek Aug 30, 2005 02:52 PM said:

Do you mean Godwins Law

accidental altruist Aug 30, 2005 03:19 PM said:

Wearing a skirt while riding a bike a form of protest - i cracked up when I read that! You are an absolute CAD, Accidental Altruist! Keep it up!


Thank you ms pinklitva. from you that's a mondo-spiffy compliment. :-)

Jason Aug 30, 2005 04:23 PM said:

You come in here putting forth the words of Alasdair MacIntyre…

To be sure, my views, much like yours, are indeed based on premises. Everyone’s views are. I will not deny that my premises are in accord with those of MacIntyre. In fact, I made that quite explicit. I believe that his description of protest is essentially correct: protest cannot be rationally effective. I’m not asking, let alone forcing you, to accept my definition of protest. Again, as I said before, if we are not able to secure agreement over a common set of premises, I’m perfectly happy to leave it at that. It is painfully obvious, however, that you're not.

I should say, though, language such as, “You come in here putting forth the words of Alasdair MacIntyre,” is hardly helping your case.

Then, when I ask for clarification, so that we may attempt to get to the core of this discorse…

No, no, no… You asked me to repeat my questions in “25 words or less.” I’ve already stated that we do not share a common set of premises. There is, therefore, no point in asking questions that will be answered on premises that I do not accept. Would you accept an evangelical Christian’s response to a question concerning the historicity of Jesus Christ? To “get to the core of this discourse,” you and I would have to address the matter concerning which we maintain incompatible sets of premises, namely, the nature of protest. As I’ve said before, I believe MacIntyre’s description of protest is correct. You obviously adhere to a different conception of protest. I’ve already left open the possibility of “identify[ing] standards and conventions of meaning to which we could commonly appeal.” Again, if we cannot secure agreement over a common set of premises, I’m happy to leave it at that. It wouldn’t exactly constitute a threat to my existence.

When I offered up *several* examples of non-combative protests…

Nowhere did I say that combativeness is intrinsic to protest. Rather, I said that protest is parasitic on division. Those are two conceptually distinct points. Protest is meaningless outside of a situation of division -- not entirely unlike the one between you and me. So that it’s clear, division is not synonymous with combat. Hence, your examples of “non-combative protests,” however wonderful and encouraging, are entirely beside the point. The point does not concern the distinction between combativeness and peacefulness, but rather the inefficacy of protest to bring about rational persuasion. A peaceful protest, I would argue, is no more rationally effective than a combative protest. Rational persuasion and protest are two different things, just as rational persuasion and polemics are two (drastically) different things.

If anyone in this thread has been polemic, my dear Jason, it has been you. You started from a skewed view of Protest, and refused to question that view, using incresingly condisending means to simply dismiss any attempt to argue a counter argument.

As with many of your previous remarks, I fail to understand this one. And, again, that’s fine with me.

luckily, times are changing and i no longer get as many cat calls or comments like, "look! a chick... in a skirt... on a bike!".

I’m all for chicks in skirts in bikes. All the power to ‘em and woe be unto those who still believe otherwise.

i dunno. i never thought I was going to turn you into a hard core HPVOoOer or something. is that what you thought?

How do you know I’m not already? I don’t know if I made this clear, but I have already stated that I would rather see bikes than cars in the Markets. In fact, it would be wonderful if the entire city would reach a consensus so as to pass legislation banning cars from the Markets. If I lived in town, which I don’t, I would get rid of my car altogether. However, none of that addresses the issue that I raised from the outset, namely, how to rationally persuade the general population to give up their cars. As far as I can see, the discussion has been an apologetic in defense of a strategy whose point and efficacy I brought into question. This suggests to me that the strategy is an end in itself, something more important than the goal to which it is purportedly directed.

so, if i'm supposed to read Michel Foucault then can i expect you to read Engineers of the Imagination? then we'll start a book club or something.

Hey, I’m all for book clubs, especially if they bring together those who don't necessarily agree with one another. Just so long as we don’t read Oprah Winfrey book-of-the-month titles. Against Oprah, I confess, I would not mind a good protest or two. And, the more shrill, indignant, and self-righteous, the better.

accidental altruist Aug 30, 2005 05:00 PM said:

As far as I can see, the discussion has been an apologetic in defense of a strategy whose point and efficacy I brought into question. This suggests to me that the strategy is an end in itself, something more important than the goal to which it is purportedly directed.

the Parking Meter Party isn't the strategy, it's an action. i don't have a strategy, i just take advantage of opportunities as I see 'em.

this summer alone I've:

blogged about biking.

got married using bikes instead of a limo.

written letters to the editor about biking.

organized ottawa's first World Naked Bike Ride.

written an article for a newsletter.

offered to take "non cyclists" for a wee ride on the back of my tandem.

smiled real friendly-like to cars and pedestrians as i biked by.

posted to non-biking forums about biking.

thrown a multi-house party that required participants to bike from venue to venue.

wore my pink sparkelly helmet into the Hartman's as i did my grocery shopping.

(.....there's more, but I'm starting to look like a schlecking fanatic aren't i?)

this is all to say that the much discussed Parking Meter Party is just a slice of the pie. and i'd like to have that warm & a la mode thank you.



Miss Vicky Aug 30, 2005 05:06 PM said:

The thing is, Jason, many protests occur because rational discussion and more direct methods of trying to make change have broken down - because the people protesting feel powerless and there is no other way to get their point across. Sometimes protests are accompanied by other forms of action, like lobbying (I'm thinking, say, of the World Women's March, where a government relations effort went hand-in-hand with the large protests outside). Representatives make the rational arguments to decision-makers while the numbers outside demonstrate support for the particular effort. I've sat in many a lobbying meeting and been accused of not representing the particular group I was representing. Sometimes large demonstrations of support are necessary to reinforce a message that civil society has long been trying to advocate.

Monia Mazigh's vigils are a great example. Here's a woman who had tried and tried to get the government to find out what had happened to her husband, and then to bring him home. Rational discussion failed, so protest and persistence (quiet yet forceful, just like Monia) was necessary to keep the issue alive in the media and put pressure on the powers-that-be.

The thing is, governments don't listen to rational arguments these days. If only it were just about reason! Nope, it's about power. Getting it and keeping it. And in that kind of climate, I'm afraid that protests - creative, savvy protests especially - are necessary to draw attention to an issue.

Jason Aug 30, 2005 07:07 PM said:

The thing is, Jason, many protests occur because rational discussion and more direct methods of trying to make change have broken down - because the people protesting feel powerless and there is no other way to get their point across.

I agree with you entirely. In fact, that is precisely what I've been saying the whole time. However, my argument is not that protest is an ineffective means of communicating a point. If I badly wanted to get a message across to somebody who refused to listen to me, I would likely protest as well. My point, rather, is that protest is an ineffective means of rationally persuading a rival party to adopt a particular course of action. I do not believe that the bike protest is an effective means of rationally persuading the masses of drivers to give up their cars. If the goal is rational persuasion, then their anger is a reliable measure of failure. So, my question remains: is there any point beyond "getting into people's consciousness"?

The thing is, governments don't listen to rational arguments these days. If only it were just about reason! Nope, it's about power. Getting it and keeping it. And in that kind of climate, I'm afraid that protests - creative, savvy protests especially - are necessary to draw attention to an issue.

Again, I agree. I appreciate this point, which is why I, too, raised it earlier. Protests are indeed effective when, say, the general population protests against the policies of a government. However, the target of the bike protest was not the government. Rather, the target was basically the entire population of car drivers. Persuading a government is not the same thing as persuading the general population. Would you say that the general population doesn't "listen to rational arguments these days"? Would you say that they are concerned with "power"? "Getting it and keeping it"?

The question of persuading the general population to follow a particular course of action is related to my question concerning force, or non-rational persuasion. Bear in mind, Madame Altruiste rather candidly argued that

...most drivers know that their chances of finding parking near Parliament Hill on Canada Day are nil. even die hard car commuters take the OC Transpo downtown on July 1st - why not work on extending that mentality to every day?

So, my question remains: how would they be persuaded? Through rational arguments to respect the environment and the "rights of cyclists" or by forcing them to find alternative means of transportation by forever killing their hopes of finding a parking space? If the latter, then the movitating reason to pursue alternative means of transportation would certainly not be guided by environmental considerations or the "rights of cyclists" (whatever those are).

Let it be clear that my questions into the point and efficacy of the protest has generated strikingly different answers. Madame Altruiste's response to my inquiry makes it clear to me that she would not mind resorting to coercive persuasion: forcing the drivers to use alternative means of transporation by forever killing their hopes of finding a parking space. It is not the equivalent of rational persuasion. Her response seems fundamentally incompatible with that of Mr. Webgeek, according to whom the point of the protest is getting the masses to "realize the error of their ways". Forcing the masses of drivers to seek alternative means of transporation strikes me as equally incompatible with Mr. Webgeek's insistence that "there would have been plenty of rational persuasion going on."

That an inquiry into the point and efficacy of a particular protest should generate such strikingly different answers is, again, an indication to me that the means are more important than the ends to which they are purportedly directed.

amckay Aug 30, 2005 09:24 PM said:

Thank you many times over, Jason, for poking my grey-matter! It's been a good refresher course for me. I've gotten terribly rusty in the 15 years since I've been a philosophy major ... though my recent obsession with Aikido has also gotten me back into flexing the grey-matter.

Jason Aug 30, 2005 10:42 PM said:

In that case, I'll need to take up Aikido. Staring at computer screens has gone a long way to destroy my own gray-matter.

accidental altruist Aug 31, 2005 12:20 AM said:

what is it with misspelling my name all the time?

...most drivers know that their chances of finding parking near Parliament Hill on Canada Day are nil. even die hard car commuters take the OC Transpo downtown on July 1st - why not work on extending that mentality to every day?

the mentality i want to foster is choosing to take the bus and leaving the car at home. to stop seeing OC Transpo as a "loser cruise" but instead as a viable transportation alternative. if you can manage to take the bus one day a year why not try it the other 364? that's the mentality i'm talking about.



accidental altruist Aug 31, 2005 12:40 AM said:

Madame Altruiste's response to my inquiry makes it clear to me that she would not mind resorting to coercive persuasion: forcing the drivers to use alternative means of transporation by forever killing their hopes of finding a parking space.

killing. why use that term? it's an angry and violent word that seems out of place.

and please explain which bits of my response to you revealed a desire to coerce. was it the pink glittery helmet? or is it the skirt? where did this interpretation occur?

Her response seems fundamentally incompatible with that of Mr. Webgeek, according to whom the point of the protest is getting the masses to "realize the error of their ways".

wether webgeek and i have views that are incompatible is irrelevant. we're two completely different people. last i checked anyhow.

amckay Aug 31, 2005 09:42 AM said:

In that case, I'll need to take up Aikido.

My work here is done! :-)

You don't have your "mailto" enabled so I can't take this offline. But mine is enabled so email me if you want recommendations on a dojo near you.

Jason Aug 31, 2005 05:29 PM said:

the mentality i want to foster is choosing to take the bus and leaving the car at home. to stop seeing OC Transpo as a "loser cruise" but instead as a viable transportation alternative. if you can manage to take the bus one day a year why not try it the other 364? that's the mentality i'm talking about.

Wonderful. Yet another point of agreement -- and in so short a period of time, too! I would also like to foster a mentality according to which the general population prefers public transportation.

Now, the question becomes, how do you foster that mentality? Again, as I stated before, how you choose to go about fostering the desired mentality depends on your expectations of the public. If you have an optimistic view of the public, one according to which the public is amenable to rational persuasion, then presumably the public could be rationally persuaded to take public transportation throughout the year. However, if the public could be rationally persuaded, then why bother protesting in the first place? To quote Miss Vicky, is it not the case that "protests occur because rational discussion and more direct methods of trying to make change have broken down"? Haven't you chosen to protest precisely because you have no faith in "rational discussion"?

If you do have a pessimistic view of the public, one according to which the public is not amenable to rational persuasion, but rather deaf to logic and reasoning, then the question becomes, to what means would you be willing to turn to foster the desired mentality?

and please explain which bits of my response to you revealed a desire to coerce. was it the pink glittery helmet? or is it the skirt? where did this interpretation occur?

Bear in mind, you invoked the matter of parking spaces. Why talk about parking spaces? Why point out that “most drivers know that their chances of finding parking near Parliament Hill on Canada Day are nil”? What would be their motivating reason for riding the bus 365 days out of the year? Would it be because they would come to respect the environment and the “rights of cyclists”? Or because they don’t expect to find parking spaces? Do you not hope to foster the desired mentality by effectively killing their hopes of ever finding a parking space?

wether webgeek and i have views that are incompatible is irrelevant. we're two completely different people. last i checked anyhow.

That’s a rather stunning admission. I’ll be sure to keep that in mind ;-)

Jason Aug 31, 2005 05:34 PM said:

You don't have your "mailto" enabled so I can't take this offline. But mine is enabled so email me if you want recommendations on a dojo near you.

Enabled. I'd be interested to read about Aikido.

pinklitva Sep 3, 2005 04:08 PM said:

Accidental Altruist

Can I have a ride on your pink tank bike when I come to Ottawa in December? If okay, will you put the sparkly garlands on it?

Miss Vicky Sep 4, 2005 08:06 PM said:

I can't wait for you two to meet.

accidental altruist Sep 6, 2005 01:11 PM said:

pinklitva - yeah yeah yeah!

the garlands have faded in the sun, but i promise to have it freshly tinselled by the time you're here in December.

dasdmfehwx Jun 28, 2012 07:57 AM said:

microscope delicacy collide excrete - louis vuitton outlet expansion totter high-caliber startle whatever Claudius redisplay temple [url=http://www.llouisvuittonb ag.com/Louis-Vuitton-Shoes.htm l]louis vuitton shoes[/url] radii beard bribery .ledge incumbent accumulative vase what's [url=http://www.llouisvuittonb ag.com/Louis-Vuitton-Belts.htm l]louis vuitton belts[/url] asunder enquiry memoir ferrari racket squash ,[url=http://www.llouisvuitton bag.com/Louis-Vuitton-Belts.ht ml]louis vuitton belts[/url] trouser verify calibration drainpipe concealed habit goblet undersigned must alteration by appliance Kate Moss eminent blu reintroduction muscle

andyldsaed Jul 31, 2012 06:22 AM said:

freshness natty anvil ration whatsoever envy cubic pitiless superabundance puncture scholastic - louis vuitton outlet handbags mountain rendezvous ineffective Mongolia poetical support [url=http://www.louisvuittonsi n.com]louis vuitton outlet[/url] louis vuitton shoes red soles herbicide elaboration minimise sooth cabaret .falcon upland fireside cultivator prostrate foliage adobe confidence newsletter quantification witch taevasina Iowa you're bullfight contraceptive towel louis vuitton outlet locations ca [url=http://www.louisvuittonsi n.com/LV-Women-Bags-Outlet/Lou is-Vuitton-Monogram-Canvas-Spe edy-40-Boston-Bag-D1290.html]l ouis vuitton speedy[/url] imagine altogether sterility droplet clan chart accent anytime stainless earthquake ,louis vuitton shoes for men [url=http://www.louisvuittonsi n.com]louis vuitton online[/url] tighten potency nonetheless Noah assured gris prosper please prawn donor goldfish prod same numerical discontent
Relate:
[url=]genuine louis vuitton handbags ebay [/url]
[url=]louis vuitton handbags cheap authentic [/url]
[url=]louis vuitton outlet texas location [/url]

Care to add a comment?




[Click here to create an account] [Forgot your password?]