For years I’ve been on the wrong side of protests. Not, I like to think, politically. I have protested against apartheid, too many wars, defended abortion rights, marched against the Bushes, Harris, Harper etc. No, I’ve been on the wrong side of the process of protests. I have always been against having a bunch of speakers at protests. For me, it has always seemed that after the first few no matter how decent the speaker is (and it is hard to do it very well) most just seem to be opening up the valve to let the energy escape and by the time we are into double digits of speakers the energy is so deflated it has to chant to wake up.

I figured for a while that maybe a lottery system would work well; especially with large rallies, so that each rally has maybe five speakers drawn from a hat and then the next rally has different speakers until all of the reps that need to speak have spoken. I thought it would be great for labour rallies. But this was, I’m embarrassed to say incorrect thinking. Small thinking. We are protesting big issues and big ideas and we should go big.

My proposal? Everyone speaks. Yup everyone. Think of it. No worries about making sure that all the key stakeholders are represented. No worries about who has to get cut. Plus your protest will have higher visibility has it continues on for days – like a filibuster against injustice. And its great for scheduling – no more saying you had a conflict – you gotta have time to make a multiple day protest. Here is how it could work:

All speakers have to register on a computer for a timeslot (see, it builds your d-base instantly!). And of course speakers will want to have their friends/colleagues and families present for their talk so they will invite guests (crowd building!). To keep folks from just talking and walking (the old T&W) you will be requiree to show up at least fifteen minutes before your slot and check in. You want people to listen to you? You have to listen to a few of them. Sure your opponents will try to stack the speaker’s list. But we are ready for them. We have a Process Cop (or PC) who has the power to cut the mike for way-crazy or hateful stuff. Start dishing pro-invasion bunk at an anti-war rally – PC will deal with you! Plus you have your magical d-base. Anyone putting down a false name – lifetime ban! Oh the possibilities.

Lets say each speaker gets, say 2 minutes. So with large protest of 10,000 speakers around the clock your protest is 13.8 days of just speeches, but with transitions and other delays lets just call it fifteen. A fifteen day protest! You raise awareness, get media, and interact with lots of people who may not agree with you – as you speak on some corner somewhere to a crowd also eager to speak you promote dialogue and organizing. Plus you know those guys (almost always guys) who always leap to the microphone at lefty events? Well now they can just go from protest to protest giving their two cents until the bank is full. And if I don’t make it to hear them, well, tell them I went on another day. That’s my two cents.

Matthew Adams

Matt moved to Toronto from the U.S just in time for Mike Harris to take power in Ontario and has been stunned ever since. Matthew Adams is a co-founder of the Catalyst Centre (a social justice popular...