Messages might lost with too many protests

Protests are a wonderful expression of free speech that always have been part of our country’s fabric.

And like all forms of speech and communication, a protest’s effectiveness depends on who is its target audience, and how the message is being shared.

Such is the finding of two university sociology professors in a newly published study “Extreme Protest Tactics Reduce Popular Support for Social Movements.”

Earlier this week 1st Congressional Rep. Jack Bergman visited Alpena and at various stops on his itinerary was greeted by protestors. Interestingly, however, was not the fact the protestors were there, but rather the wide variety and diversity of the items being protested and the causes being promoted. There had to have been a dozen different causes being advocated, or so it seemed.

That is great if you want to “shotgun” causes by the attention you will receive.

However, by having so many causes competing for attention against each other, no one particular cause stood out because they all tended to dilute each other.

“In order to persuade people, one needs to understand who they’re speaking to, who they’re aiming to persuade,” the study reports.

In this instance the messages were as diversified and far ranging as the community itself.

While admitedly the study is a focus on more extreme forms of protest, it does point out an irony that the more attention a protest receives, the greater its chance to ultimately generate a negative result as to its effectiveness. In many instances the result is counter-productive to the intended consequence.

Which makes us wonder this morning.

Protests at gatherings of congressmen and senators across the country, like that in Alpena this week, have become commonplace since Congress returned to session in January.

One then wonders that with all the attention, ultimately will the protests hurt or help the causes being advocated and promoted?

We don’t know the answer, but time will tell.