It is highly challenging for advocates of social change to get their issues much traction with a largely disinterested and apathetic populace. I get that. I would love to see a number of issues such as abuse in offshore detention, climate policy and political corruption taken far more seriously.
But my sympathy with the difficult task of the public activist only goes so far. I in no way support yesterday’s protest action on the Tasman Bridge by an animal welfare group I hadn’t heard of. Now seeing as I have now heard of the group, I guess they at least earnt themselves some name recognition, but this stunt achieved little else and cost them a lot of goodwill in the form of disruption and chaos they caused.
I am yet to see a public statement from the group and won’t reward their behaviour by looking for one, by I would be disappointed if they try to justify their actions as causing minor inconvenience to Tasmanians compared to the suffering of whichever animals they were protesting about. This would be the kind of sophistry that Scott Morrison would be proud of.
Because the activist doesn’t have the right to make a judgement about what is a minor inconvenience. If someone missed a shift, a job interview or an important medical appointment because of yesterday’s action, that is not a minor inconvenience.
So much like PETA’s ill-advised foray into local Tasmanian politics a few months ago, this protest action will only undermine the credibility of future efforts by animal rights campaigners in the state. It hardly seems worth it.