Skip to content

Right to protest?

April 17, 2013

Our right to protest is entrenched in our democracy. From Greenham common to St. Paul’s we will hold a placard aloft at a drop of a hat. Whilst British protests are usually calm, ordererly affairs, rather like queuing but with megaphones, sometimes it is ugly. Not only in the sense of mindless violence to property, people and police, but ugly in the sense of utterly distasteful. So, do we have the right to peacefully protest at any time and occasion? I think not.

Quite simply, if you have a cause and you have permission from the authorities you are legally allowed to make your views known publically. This is done through placards, banners, chants, songs. This is even done through silence and through camping as the chap outside St. Paul’s will tell you. Whilst these shows of public opinion are often harmless, if perhaps a nuisance, bringing traffic to a halt and dragging police officers away from other, perhaps more pressing jobs, there are at least two occasions when I feel protestors should have the dignity and grace to stay in bed.

In the past anti-war protesters have made their feelings known when the remains of dead British soldiers were driven through the Cotswold village of Brize Norton. They would assert that they are exercising their right, I would say that they are being distasteful and disrespectful to the point of insult and offence. It is the height of ignorance and bitter-heartedness to brazenly stand at the side of the road and proclaim your views whilst just feet away coffins that contain dead men are driven past.

And latterly, today in fact, during the funeral of Lady Thatcher over 200 people decided it would be quite a good idea to highjack proceedings by waving their banners and booing. What possesses somebody to say, “I know, I shan’t go to work today, I shall go into London and show the world what I’m made of!” great!

Mercifully such people seem not to get a huge chunk of airtime, however, it illustrates their total lack of self-awareness. They have had ample opportunity to make their feelings known, yet they choose to intrude upon a funeral – an intensely sad time for family and friends. Surely it takes a particular breed of person to have the sheer hatefulness to do this. The scary thing is that they appear not to be from one class or background. They appear to come from a cross-section of society united by whatever cause they are portraying.

To paraphrase somebody else, I don’t agree with what you say, but I defend your right to say it. And I do, I think it is healthy for a democracy to allow peaceful protest – we’re not China or North Korea after all! But, surely during times of grief, be it an individual’s funeral or coffins being driven from an RAF base, we should accord the dead a moderchom of respect. I am not saying for a moment that death makes saints of everyone and that the dead are above reproach or criticism, I am saying that for one day have the decency to stand back and let history decide.


From → Culture, law, Society

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: