Yesterday, on my way to class, I noticed a group of people holding up a banner in front of Jessup Hall.  As I walked in front of them I noticed that their banner stated something about how coal is bad.  Then they started chanting something incomprehensible until someone got them to chant “this is what democracy looks like!” instead.  I thought, “this is what a few dozen cold people look like.”  What were they doing?  It was 9:00 on a Wednesday morning and a few people, who seemed very pleased with themselves, were holding up a banner and yelling into the side of a solid stone building.  There were no people around.  None.  They were yelling into the side of a building that didn’t care about their cause.  There were a few people taking pictures of the protesters.  They looked professional and I assumed they were there at the request of the protesters to document their triumphant stand against coal.

Here’s today’s lesson: If you are going to protest remember that context matters.

Protesting in 30 degree weather at 9:00 in the morning is probably not the best time.

Protesting against coal in front of a building that has nothing to do with the coal industry is probably not the correct place.

Protesting to a building instead of people is probably the wrong audience.

I was completely baffled by this odd display.  What were these people doing?  Did they realize they were yelling into the side of a building?  Were they aware that it wasn’t a power plant or a coal mine?  Did they realize there was no one around who cared?  Did they realize it was 9:00 in the morning and cold as hell?

There is a time and place for these sorts of actions.  This was not it.  Did these protesters have a solution to the energy crisis?  Are they planning to propose or actively develop an alternative? (Again, I am a solution driven person) I could have asked them, but I have a policy of not engaging with people who yell at buildings.

As I walked away I heard a man yell “fossil fuels forever!”  I laughed.  Not because I agreed with him, but because I love alliteration.