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An Unsolicited Guide To Protesting And Exercising Your Rights The Right Way

You have a right to protest and exercise your rights as an American. But I have a right to give you advice on how to protest and exercise your rights the right way.

Calling attention to the imperfections of the United States, which sees itself as a beacon of the free world, will greatly upset your fellow Americans. You should always adjust your tactics and message to make it easier for them to avoid confronting the injustice you are suddenly tired of tolerating.

You may demonstrate against oppression and legacies of slavery and genocide and other such bad things, but it is best to do it between the hours of 2pm and 4pm when most Americans are at work. You don’t want working people to end up in traffic jams and be late for work or family dinner because of you and your cause.

Say you want to protest someone you consider a war criminal or a police chief who covers for killer cops. Maybe it is true that a million innocent civilians were killed or that police are not held accountable for murder. But you have to balance your rights with the rights of these speakers to share their exploits as a decorated four-star general or talk about how they would reform policing so officers do not have to face consequences for their brutality.

Look at your iPhone and what you are wearing to protest. Put down that burger from a fast food restaurant. You can protest anything, but if you are using anything capitalism has produced, you will be automatically disqualified. Consider going on a pilgrimage to a commune in the Ozarks, where you can get all your food, clothes, and just stay off your iPhone. Stay off Twitter. Nothing good will come of it.

Hopefully, you aren’t planning to make a career out of this protest thing. You aren’t trying to bolster your image through this, I hope. You will be treated worse than rapists, who beat and abuse women, bankers who kick people out of their homes, corporations that conspire to hide the real impacts of climate change, and torturers who waterboard and stack detainees into human pyramids. Just deport yourself if you’re going to make this a lifelong endeavor.

Have you compared your message to recent statements from Russian dictator Vladimir Putin? Stop what you are doing, and make sure Putin and his allies are not also saying similar things. You don’t want to be labeled a Putinist and become a star in a steamy hot take featured on the Daily Beast, do you?

If you insist on sitting down during the “Pledge of Allegiance,” “Star-Spangled Banner,” or “God Bless America,” you should try different body positions if this is something you plan to do over and over again.

Does kneeling make it tolerable for troops, who want to be sure you are not hating on them even though you have already made it clear you are not? Does bowing your head to the ground still offend people, who have the souls of flag-waving white supremacists? Does lying face down on the ground do enough to make your act invisible to zombie-like drunkards, who don’t want to be distracted from their beer with “America” etched on the can?

You should always be thinking: what can I do so that will create the smallest ripples possible? If talking heads are commenting on it on TV or sweetheart aunts on Facebook are outraged, there is still something you can do to make your protest more acceptable to the country.

America’s history is a history of oppressed people asking their fellow Americans for tips on how to protest the right way and create change. What matters most is not who is sitting in but who is listening to others when they take the time to explain the proper way to sit in.

Freedom Square banner greets those who visit the encampment. Photo by Kevin Gosztola
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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."