I think they can be, but often aren't because of a lack of respect and forethought. A lot of people go to demonstrations and protests as an excuse to be, frankly, douches, instead of lodging a reasonable, (fairly) peaceable objection.So, in theory, yes. In practice, mostly no.
I have wondered about this a lot.In thinking about it just now, I tried to take the perspective of the company or organization being protested. I think that the power of protests is to register options. If the opinions are strong enough to sway the decision-makers, then I guess in those cases the protest would be effective. If the decision-makers don't care about opinions (which seems to be...most of the time) then the protest would be useless.
Around here, there have been a lot of tea parties lately. I think it's helpful to the politicians because it shows them that yes, there are lots of people who want them to be responsible and protect people's freedom. In addition, they tend to get some press coverage, which spreads the word further than if they just sat at home. And finally, it allows like-minded people to meet each other and make plans and get things done. So, yeah, I think it can be a good thing. Can be, mind you. Not the solution to most problems, and it can go terribly wrong, but I like it. Lets you know that freedom of speech isn't dead. Yet.
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