Hope you enjoy my Final Piece!
Host: Hello and welcome to today's podcast in which our two guests will be debating whether protest really works! They will be discussing their views on protest; explaining their reasons in detail. Let me introduce you to our first guest, Jonathan, who believes that protesting is the way to go. Hello Jonathan, I'll be asking you some questions concerning protest. Firstly, would you like to introduce yourself?
Jonathan: Hi, I'm Jonathan. I am 17 years old, but have attended many protests concerning climate change. I was born into a world that is constantly being moulded by one species - humans. Over and over again I've heard about the world dying, and when I saw a picture of a turtle with a stomach filled with plastic bags, that was the last straw. I decided to protest for our climate and have even organised a few. After all, we are the future of our world. If we don't give up we can restore the Earth to its former peace. That is why I will carry on protesting until this is all fixed.
Host: Very touching Jonathan. My first question to you is: what do you think protest means?
Johnathan: Well, I think protest is a way to get your voice heard and spread your views. It can come in many forms, big or small, violent or peaceful. Each one is for a reason; their aims can vary from changing a law or to change people's opinions.
Host: Thank you for sharing your views, Jonathan. My next question is if you could give any examples of successful protests and how they achieved their aims.
Jonathan: Hmmm, let me think. Ah yes, a protest that certainly worked was the 2019-2020 protests in Chile. When the government raised the subway fares up, which angered people because of the inequality amongst the Chilean citizens, people took to the streets to protest, hoping to change the Chilean Constitution. This is a set of laws that explain how the country works. Eventually, the government held a vote to determine whether there should be a new constitution. The majority of people agreed, so the government is working on changing it. I think that this protest worked because the protest was quite large, with 1 million people joining in. If the protest is larger, more people will hear about it. Also, the protest was shown on the news, so people can hear and join in with the protest from around the world. Finally, location mattered. If they had protested in a remote area, it may not have attracted more attention. Instead, the protesters set up in the capital of Chile, Santiago, where more people can see them protesting.
Host: Very interesting, Jonathan. Would you like to explain all of the different types of protests, and which one you think is the most effective?
Jonathan: Certainly. There are many types of protests, each with their own "characteristics." A riot is a violent protest, which I think is just when protesters get a little carried away when protesting. This can include protesters damaging cars or attacking the police, though if they do this it is most likely police getting violent as well and aggressively attacking the protesters. Another type of protest is a march. This is where many activists gather together and march along a street or road. They can carry signs or banners. I think this is the most effective and best way to protest because it is safe and can grow very large. As I mentioned earlier, this is a great way for the protest to raise awareness. Virtual Activism is when someone posts a message of protest online, whether it's on social media or just to your friends. Either way, it can spread all over the world. One message can become global in a matter of hours. Especially during this COVID-19 pandemic, this type of protest is very effective. A strike is when workers in a company decide to not work to try and make the employers change the way something is done. This could be because of a pay drop or bad working conditions. Silent protesting means that someone is protesting by doing an action, not by speaking. For example, football players kneel down on one knee to remember Black Lives Matter. Furthermore, a boycott is when someone doesn't want to interact with something because they don't agree with it. An example of a boycott was the Fox News Boycott last year. Finally, the last type of protest is Civil Disobedience. This is where people do somthing illegal (such as blocking the road or blockading the printing press) to try and prevent something from happening. A recent example of this was when protesters dug a tunnel under a building site for the railway network HS2.
Host: A very detailed answer, Jonathan. A final question to you before we move on, who would agree that protest works?
Jonathan: I strongly believe that anyone who thinks strongly about something and wants their views to be heard would agree with me. Most people who are against protest do not like violent protests, but I think they should just put themselves in the shoes of a rioter who believes as strongly about something as they do. Protesting is an extremely effective way to get your voice heard.
Host: Thank you, Jonathan, for all of your answers. Now, we will move on to our next guest, Eleanor, who thinks that protests are not the best way for people's voices to be heard. Would you like to introduce yourself?
Eleanor: Hello everybody, I'm Eleanor. I'm 90 years old and a retired lawyer. I don't really agree with protests, but I think that peaceful protests should be allowed. On the other hand, I think protests in person should not be allowed during the COVID-19 pandemic, as it breaks the current restrictions. I think that most protests start off peacefully, but there are a few protesters who turn violent for the sake of causing trouble, which escalates into terrible things like looting or setting things on fire. In my life, I have been to many a court case prosecuting activists.
Host: A facinating backstory. I'll be asking the same questions about protest to you. What do you think protest means?
Eleanor: To me, I think protest is a way to get your voice heard, but is a very irritating way to do this. It can block roads, which prevents people from travelling along it, and can be very disruptive to people's lives. You can be woken up by a large, loud protest, and not able to go out for essential needs, like shopping. Also, you can get caught up in a violent protest, like a riot, and get seriously injured.
Host: Thank you for your answer Eleanor. My next question to you is: can you give examples of protests that didn't work?
Eleanor: I remember last year a protest occured in Belarus. The aim of the protest was to get President Alexander Lukashenko out of power and to have a fair election, as the previous one was unfair, with the President not being challenged by anyone. Many people decided to participate in protests; some continued for 100 days and more. Governments even supported the protest. All of that hard work and Alexander Lukashenko is still in power. There was lots of money spent into organising the protests, but it didn't work. Another protest that didn't work was one of the most recent ones, the Capitol Hill Riot. Protesters stormed the Capitol building because they wanted to stop the declaration of Joe Biden's win in the Presidential Election. They violently caused havoc inside the building, and six people died because of this. These were unneccessary deaths, and if the protests never happened there would have left no fatalites. Also, they achieved the opposite of their aims. It even turned some Republicans against Trump and led to him being impeached for the second time. They divided America even more due to their violent actions.
Host: Great answers, thank you. What type of protest do you think is the least effective and why?
Eleanor: Well, I believe that the least effective protest is either a riot or a civil disobedience protest. This is because a riot is violent and the police can get involved as well, adding to the chaos. You can get caught up in one and get injured. A civil disobedience protest is not great either because it can cause some major problems. For example, Extinction Rebellion activists blocked printing presses, so newspapers could not be delivered. They can block the road as well, making you have to go on another route to get to your destination.
Host: Amazing answers so far, Eleanor. One more question just to you: Who would agree that protests are not the best way for people to share their views?
Eleanor: I think that people who do not like violence will agree with me because riots can have some shocking images that people may wish not to have seen. It is very disturbing sometimes to hear of deaths during this pandmic because it is just extra to the lives COVID-19 has taken.
Host: Thank you for that answer. Now comes the big question to both of you: Does Protest work?
Jonathan: I do think that protest works, because it can achieve great things. After all, they are protesting to make the world better, not worse. Many people think violent protests are the problem, but they should look at the bigger picture: why are they doing this? They must feel so strongly about their cause that they use violence.
Eleanor: I agree. I think that most protests do work, but there are some that take it a bit too far. When I was a young girl, my parents told me about the brave suffragettes and suffragites. Without them, I wouldn't be able to vote, and the world would be unequal. That is why I think protest works.
Host: I thank both of you very much for joining our podcast and sharing your views. Now, we would like to know what you think. Does protest work? Anyway, its goodbye from us at the studio until tomorrow. Have a great day!