Some days you just can’t win. Also known as “you can’t please everybody”.
Case in point–and I’m making no assumptions here about how tuned-in you are to the current news: On April 29th, a couple of black men were hanging out near Lake Merritt in Oakland. They had a charcoal grill, but they were in an area of the park that only allowed non-charcoal grills.
This is not what most people would consider a major breach of the law.
On seeing such depraved behavior–charcoal grilling in a gas-only zone–the average person would probably shrug. At most, she’d go over to the scofflaws and say, “Hey guys, you can’t use that grill here.” If she was an optimistic sort, she might even point them to the nearest area where charcoal grills are allowed.
And at that point, the outlaw grill-meisters would either move or they wouldn’t. Either way, the supporter of the law would feel a modest glow for having done her duty.
That’s not what happened in this case.
A white woman confronted the men and called the police. She then stood nearby for two hours until the police arrived, at which point she accused the men of harassing her.
Needless to say, this didn’t go over well in Oakland. A protest was organized. Fortunately, it was not a march through the streets. Historically, those haven’t turned out well in Oakland, with vandals and looters using the marches as cover and excuse to make matters worse.
No, this protest was appropriate to the situation: a mass barbecue in the same area of the park, complete with a city permit, local corporate participation, and a voter registration drive. Thousands of people showed up, and by all reports, a good time was had by all.
Except, one presumes, the woman who originally confronted the men.
The punchline here, and the reason I say you can’t please everyone:
As it should, the SF Chronicle ran a story yesterday about the protest. Today’s paper included a letter to the editor from a reader in Palo Alto who was deeply offended by the story. She said, in part, that she “found it upsetting to read of the carnage required to make this protest.”
Yup. She’s hijacking a protest against racial injustice to protest to expound on the moral superiority of vegetarianism and promote animal rights.
With all due respect to the letter writer, this is exactly the sort of mission creep that dooms projects of any sort. Focus, solve one problem at a time, or work in parallel. Don’t undercut the work of others or insist that they work for your cause as well as their own.
Unless, of course, you’re more interested in protesting for the sake of protesting, rather than achieving a goal.