Today we’re gonna talk about Nonviolent Method number 6: Group or Mass Petitions.
Now, petitions I normally am not really crazy about. They’ve kind of been done to death, right? “They’ll just do what we ask ‘cuz we got all these people on this petition.”
Has anyone noticed that that completely doesn’t work?
If somebody gives Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma – who’s terrible about the climate, by the way – but if somebody sends him a petition with a bunch of signatures from people from everywhere but Oklahoma – or maybe like 5 from Oklahoma – he’s not gonna care! He’s probably not even gonna see it, his assistant’s gonna go like “Eh, well...Next!”
Which is not to say that petitions don’t always work. The book has all kinds of examples from Roman history, which might have been like the first petition. “Oh let’s send something to the Emperor Commodus because the Farmer General is making us work too hard.”
And the Emperor Commodus is like “Holy shit! They, they put together what? A giant list of names and…? Huh! Well that’s…I admire their moxie! That’s never been done before, has that ever been done before?”
“Not that I know, Emperor”.
“Yeah, I’m gonna, I’m gonna grant their petition. Their request. Their grievance. It must be very vexing!”
And they also have a thing where some merchant marine guys for Rome were like “We’re being vexed! Help us out!” And they were important guys, so the Emperor’s like “Alright. I’ll help ya out.” (And maybe that’s the key is to use the word “vexing”. “Dear Senator Inhofe, Global Warming vexes us so!” It’s worth a try…not!)
But let’s be honest, the real thing that these guys are gonna pay attention to is if the petition is signed by a lot of people in their district or state OR by super important people (and by that I don’t mean Jon Bon Jovi).
If you’re a big Republican and all of a sudden you realize that all these industry business luminaries and Wall Street executives and, I don’t know, the Farmer General….
Farmers could have an impact! Church groups too, I know I keep goin’ back to churches, but come on people! Get with the program. It’s God’s creation we’re talkin’ about here, you gotta protect it, right? He wanted you to protect it.
Actually, if you did a drive through Oklahoma and just got everybody in those areas that are just getting clobbered by drought to sign a petition saying “Uh, yeah, we think global warming is real. It’s a million degrees outside and, yeah, we’re gonna sign this petition. Please do something about this.” They’d pay attention to that!
Or if you went to all the colleges and universities in those areas, and high schools and elementary schools and all that, and you collected thousands and thousand of signatures, that would have some impact!
OR we could do a big petition to the network news or whatever. “Um, hello, this is a little more important ultimately than Kate Middleton’s baby bump.” “Um, you’re kinda not reporting on the most important thing that every will happen to anybody.” “Uhh, you’re kind of making light of something that’s gonna kill, like, everybody.” “Um, you’re abrogating your duty and we’ve had enough.” That’s the sort of thing that the editors in the major papers and the national news networks might pay attention to finally. “Hello! By not reporting on it, you’re making this a non-issue! It’s an issue! We’re boiling outside, the mountains are on fire! Look outside your building, the flood waters are rising from the Atlantic. I mean, Hello!”
Journalists could do petitions against their bosses – the editors and publishers and media owners. “Guys! We care about this! We wanna cover this, this is important, we get it. Our industry has a responsibility to provide info on this so people have a clear picture just how dangerous this is. You’re not allowing us to do that. We wanna do it!”
Anyway, that’s how petitions work, and I guess they’re not that bad of an idea so long as you’re smart about who signs it and you at least consider throwing in the word ‘vexing”.
Next time we’re gonna talk about Nonviolent Method #7: Slogans, Caricatures, and Symbols!