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The right to protest: Overused and ineffective

US NEWS CMP-MISSOURI 14 SD
Protesters raise their fists to celebrate Tim Wolfe's resignation during the Concerned Students 1950 protest on Monday, Nov. 9 2015, in Columbia, Mo. (Michael Cali/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)

The First Amendment states five unalienable rights every American has: freedom of speech, press, assembly, religion and of course, petition, otherwise known as protest.

We've seen the hate preachers (like Brother Dean who was recently arrested in Tucson) protesting abortion and homosexuality in Tempe, and the anti-bullying campaigns in Phoenix, but those efforts won't get nearly the amount of coverage as things like protests in the deep South.

I think we overuse our First Amendment right to protest. It's not supposed to be used for small, unimportant things like Harambe the gorilla (I'm sorry, crucify me for blasphemy) but instead, it's supposed to cause a large discussion and force change over major topics.

"The measure of a successful protest isn't whether they change people's minds overnight, or whether everyone agrees with them," ASU journalism professor Sean Holstege said. "Success comes when a protest raises the awareness of society enough to right a wrong over time."

The American Revolution, women's suffrage, the civil rights movement and even the Black Lives Matter movement are all examples of properly-executed protests.

Despite the violent vigilantes that follow movements such as these, they did force society to right wrongs over time, as will modern and future movements.

Along with those vigilantes, others try to use protests to promote their own personal agendas which nullifies the effectiveness of real, meaningful protests.

And no matter how small, there will always be an opposition effort to whatever you are protesting.

However, there's not much you can do because whoever is counter-protesting has that right, but you can't let it turn into a never-ending shouting match — then no one wins.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's National Anthem protest is an example of a cause where no one wins.

Kaepernick picked something very close to every American's heart to use as a soap box, but that was his fatal flaw. By doing that, nobody knew what he wanted to start a discussion over. All people wanted to do was put him down for being 'un-American.'

Nobody understood he was supporting the BLM movement and even when they did, they had already labeled him as the bad guy, discrediting any of his further efforts.

Luckily enough, other players picked up where he left off and the discussion kept going but now it's more of a shouting match than a discussion.

I think the anthem protests will have to stop eventually because they'll be overused and ineffective, just like our right to protest.

The effectiveness of our basic right to protest is slowly eroding away as we continue to overuse it for every small personal mission on social media.

Maybe BLM and other true movements would have a fighting chance if everyone stopped trying to jump-start their own and instead started getting behind one.


Reach the columnist at abundy@asu.edu or follow @abkbundy on Twitter.

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Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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