Protesters: my view

oilprotest.jpg Mother and daughter protesters are covered in a cocoa and vegetable oil to resemble a human oil slick during a G8 protest organised by Oxfam Canada. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

By Bob Dunkin, G20 citizen blogger

bob52.jpgI do a lot of reading online, including comment forums. One thing I haven't quite been able to grasp is why most people do not differentiate between violent protesters and regular protesters. I'm really not sure why this is. There isn't really any reason why those who follow the law should be lumped in with those whose sole purpose appears to be to defy the law.

While it can be said that both groups of protesters disrupt travel through the city, it should be noted that doing it legally is... well... legal. There are rules that have to be followed, and some groups are quite good at making sure everyone knows what the rules are. It's like driving. Everyone has the same sets of rules and follows them. Red lights disrupt the flow of traffic too, but we have to abide by them. By and far, the vast majority of the protesters are going to be peaceful. Sure, they may yell and scream, but so long as no violence follows (or is incited), there is nothing wrong with enjoying this right as a Canadian citizen.

It's when a handful of violent individuals are able to get into a crowd of peaceful protesters that the trouble starts. You see the same thing following major sporting events. They don't all come there to be violent, smash windows, set cars and garbage cans on fire, or loot. They do it because others are and some people can feel as if they can get away with it or are somehow justified in taking such actions. There are various explanations as to why this happens, and it happens in any group. From large organizations down to the family unit, all of them can suffer from these sorts of things.

An easy non-violent example: One of my pet peeves is standing ovations. Not the real heartfelt ones; those are fantastic. But the ones where only a few people stand up, and then the rest of the audience feels obligated to follow along, lest they feel like they just didn't get it. I've been in those audiences, and even I begrudgingly stood up. Did I want to? No. But I did anyways, because everyone else was doing it.

Another example would be a haunted house. You're with a group of friends in a haunted house. One gets scared by something (real or imagined), then another, and another. Soon, all the people in the house are scared by mundane noises, which everyone blames on the paranormal, even though it's just the wind outside, or the floorboards creaking because you're walking on them. If you weren't told that the house was haunted, would you be as scared? Probably not.

And then there are soccer riots.

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