Dan Savage and "Activism"
People don't go to demonstrations or marches to be talked to death, they don't go to be harangued, they don't go to listen—God forbid—to poetry. They show up because they want to do something, they want to do something themselves, they want to take symbolic action. Part of what made ACT-UP so successful back before it was overrun by the same sorts of fuckwits and yahoos who ran yesterday's rally and march was that ACT-UP didn't waste your time. There weren't many speeches at ACT-UP actions—they were called "actions" for a reason—and certainly no poetry. If someone spoke, they said, "This is why we're here, this is fucking unacceptable, and here's what we're going to do about it." Then the ACT-UPers shut down the FDA, put a condom over Jesse Helms' house, throw peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at the governor of Wisconsin, etc.
"People who took the time to show up at an ACT-UP actions were presumed to be on the right side of the issue and therefore not in need of indoctrination. If someone wanted to listen to speeches—or make them—he or she was welcome to come to long, weekly process meetings, where positions were hashed out and actions were proposed and discussed, shot down or endorsed. But when it came to the actions themselves people felt it was important not to waste the time of the people who showed up. Because if you did, if you alienated people by wasting their time (and lots folks were at ACT-UP actions were dying and so didn't have any time to waste), they were unlikely to turn up at the future actions."
The same critique is true for blogs. It's all well and good to provide commentary and analysis, but gosh it would be nice if more posts in the blogosphere were followed up with 'click this link and find out what you can do about it.' Sending an email or making a phone call barely count, in this respect. Sending a check, going on a Volunteer Vacation, and/or knocking on doors while there's still time, does.