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Civil Rights

Will Protests Change Our Freedoms?

— October 9, 2020

Whether or not the protests affect our freedoms depends on the circumstances surrounding the protests and how society responds.

In these uncertain times, this is a legitimate question. With protests, riots, and disease running rampant, our world seems to be unraveling. It’s fair to wonder how quarantine, increased police presence, and escalating fear might affect many of our rights as average citizens.

The point of the protests is to incite change. The rioters want to see dramatic change in our society today. That’s why they march, commit violent acts, and continue to raise their voices.

I’m not saying what they’re doing is right. But I am saying that this is why I believe they’re doing it.

But who are these people protesting?

Studies show that they’re largely democrats and people who tend to lean left. In fact, the number of U.S. citizens who believe in our right to peacefully protest has gone down quite a bit in the past couple of years, and the decline can be attributed mostly to republicans.

I think it could be said that protests are doing a great job of changing the way we view our freedoms. So, will they actually change our freedoms?

How Protests Work

Protests do create change, but not always in the way you might expect. In fact, it can take months or even years for the results of a protest to take effect.

Another factor that moves change more rapidly is how difficult protests are to set up. In this digital age, it only takes days, if not hours or minutes, to gather a large group of people in the streets to protest.

This doesn’t send a very strong message to authorities because there wasn’t a lot of work involved in organizing it. Do the protestors really feel strongly about this issue, or are they just following the masses?

The amount of risk protestors are willing to face can also spur change. While some protests are powerful enough for the police, armed forces, or government to back down, others represent a real threat to the population, including death.

Social movements, like the ones going on today, may not have many short-term effects, but they can have lasting long-term effects, because they change the minds of the people. Even people who are not participating will start to question whether the protests have merit.

They undermine the legitimacy of power, creating a general feeling of unrest and distrust for authority.

Protests also change the protestors themselves. Individuals who enter the protest feeling strongly about the cause turn into lifelong activists who have a dramatic impact on society as a whole.

How Our Freedoms Might Change

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you can feel our world changing by the minute. You may not always feel good about it, but the protests are certainly working. Even before the protests, America was changing at a rapid pace.

As the economy shut down and everyone stayed indoors, lives were shaken by unemployment and families were stirred by the canceling of schools.

Most Americans abided by the mandates for a time. As things began to open back up, many were fooled into thinking it was over. Resistance took hold as soon as things started shutting down again, and more people began to ignore the mandates altogether.

This strong opposition has created a chasm amongst the American people. We’re taking sides to stand up for what we believe is right rather than uniting to move forward as a country. We’ve become all too aware of each other’s stance, and we couldn’t disagree more.

Whether you want to believe it or not, our freedoms have already changed. Mask mandates are everywhere, and businesses have the right to refuse service to anyone for not wearing one.

Your freedom to refuse to wear a mask is intact, but at the cost of not being able to conduct your daily life as usual.

Current Protests

If the current protests have you in a state of perpetual fear, you can read up on even more reasons to buy firearms these days.

Current protests include supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement as well as the Reopen America movement. Those who support the former are largely democrat and those who support the latter are republican.

Black Lives Matter protesters. Image via Flickr/user:Tony Webster. (CCA-BY-2.0)

The Black Lives Matter movement is a young movement, but it’s not new. It’s been gaining ground slowly since the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012. A whopping 26% more Americans today believe we have a problem with racism than they did back then. It’s clearly working.

The Reopen America movement is new and came about as the country shut back down. People march the streets, maskless, fighting for their right to catch the virus. It might seem like insanity, but these people believe very strongly in their right to choose whether they go out without a mask or not.

It’s too soon to tell if it’s taking hold, and there are varying theories on what will happen to this movement after the election. It will depend on who gets elected and what propaganda they’ve been spreading in order to get elected.

Final Thoughts

It’s tough to tell which way is up these days, and our freedoms depend on so many other factors besides the protests themselves. However, the statistics show that protests do work to garner the public’s attention and raise awareness of a particular issue.

Whether or not the protests affect our freedoms depends on the circumstances surrounding the protests and how society responds. In some cases, society has the perseverance to see the protests through to a real change while at other times, the government is strong enough to wear protestors down and squash their voice.

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