Charlotte's Web Thoughts
Charlotte's Web Thoughts
Blocking Traffic As Protest is Bad, Actually

Blocking Traffic As Protest is Bad, Actually

Don't do this.
(image credit: Stephanie Keith // Reuters)

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Yesterday, protestors blocked roadways in California, Illinois, New York, and Oregon, snarling traffic for hours and impeding travelers attempting to catch their outgoing flights at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

Their stated cause is a righteous one: demanding an immediate ceasefire to the horrific violence that has killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians in Gaza. I certainly agree with that cause.

But their method for raising awareness on that important issue could not be more incompetent, dangerous, and counterproductive.

It is unequivocally wrong—flat-out immoral—to block traffic on a highway or roadway as a form of protest.

And it's not because of the annoying inconvenience to people making their commutes, nor is it because this is one of the more incompetent and wholly counterproductive methods of building awareness for a righteous cause.

For me, neither of those reasons are the issue here.

The reason is that blocking traffic on a highway or roadway, in protest or not, is a major threat to public safety.

What if an ambulance needs to get by? 

What if a frantic parent has an injured child in their backseat and is rushing to the emergency room? 

What if someone misses a flight to a lifesaving surgery that's been scheduled halfway across the country?

What if a patient with a cancer diagnosis misses a critical, urgent appointment that took weeks to get on the calendar and there are no open slots for weeks more?

What if there's someone with a disability that can't simply get out of their car and make it to their destination on foot?

And those are just issues of immediate public safety. As any grown adult understands well, it’s the slow-burning obstacles that so often go unseen in their harm.

What about the applicant on the way to an interview who desperately needs this job because we live in a backwards-ass country that attaches lifesaving health care to one's employment status?

What about the single parent who had to beg their employer to get the morning off work to take their sick kid to the doctor and now may not only miss the appointment but get admonished by their employer, maybe even fired?

What about a health care professional who regretfully has to reschedule critical appointments for their patients because they’re stuck in unnecessary traffic?

These protestors aren’t thinking of the people most affected by their dangerous stunts on roadways. Because it’s not those in power who will suffer. It’s not those making decisions over Gaza who will be most impacted. Those folks will be fine. If anything, it helps them.

The people who will be hurt most by needlessly and irresponsibly blocking traffic are those who are struggling to navigate a world that reduces them to an afterthought.

These protestors have apparently failed to grasp the simple concept that when the vast majority of Americans, particularly parents, watch their highways and roadways blocked, the first thing that comes to mind is: What if my child were harmed and needed to get to the hospital?

There’s nothing wrong with protest being uncomfortable and inconvenient; in fact, I think discomfort and inconvenience for those in power are often essential for effective protest.

But it is completely wrong to knowingly put innocent people in harm’s way. That’s not legitimate protest. That’s just being a cruel, performative asshole.

This is the kind of irresponsible nonsense that affords those in power more leverage to ignore righteous causes. All they have to do is point and say: See? These leftist extremists don’t care about you or your family.

It is incredibly privileged to intentionally harm innocent people, to decide that their medical emergencies are unimportant, to place their suffering on hold, for what is essentially peak activist narcissism.

Here’s hoping these protestors realize that simple concept sooner rather than later.

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Charlotte's Web Thoughts
Charlotte's Web Thoughts
Charlotte Clymer is a writer and LGBTQ advocate. You've probably seen her on Twitter (@cmclymer). This is the podcast version of her blog "Charlotte's Web Thoughts", which you can subscribe to here: