Non-futile protesting


A peaceful, law-abiding rally achieves two things:

The latter achievement is counter-productive.

Alternatively, you might violently overthrow the government and install leadership more to your liking. This is risky, expensive, and generally frowned apon. Not recommended unless you have a very reliable overseas backer.

Which leaves only one effective and morally defensible form of protest: do something illegal but moral, causing the government to do something legal but immoral. (Where legal means what the government says is legal -- which may be in contradiction of the letter of the law.)


Note that these are all acts of self-sacrifice. You run a high risk that they will cost you a lot personally -- your money, your freedom, perhaps your life -- and are effective only in direct proportion to the expected loss<1>. But they also provide a good chance of achieving your ends.

<1> Using "expected" in the statistical sense. The average of the utility of each possible outcome, weighted by probability.


Michael Stillwell sent me this quote from Martin Luther King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail":

"One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law."


This is a good example of how it's done.