Feature

United Kingdom: Protester without a cause

Welcome to the age of protest as self-promotion.

Libby PurvesThe Times 

Welcome to the age of protest as self-promotion, said Libby Purves. Last weekend, the annual Oxford vs. Cambridge boat race was ruined when a swimmer bobbed up in front of the boats, just inches from the oars whipping through the water. Coxswains for both teams, anxious to avoid killing someone, screamed for a stop. “It’s a protest,” smirked the swimmer, one Trenton Oldfield, after he was fished out and led away by police. “Read the blog.” Oldfield could have been killed by his stupid stunt. Worse, a rower might have died: One passed out because of the unprecedented pause and then resumption of a very strenuous race. And for what? The dopey blog shows “a random sense of grievance dressed up as politics.” Oldfield, who attended a posh private high school and the London School of Economics, blathers on about the “elitism” of Oxbridge and warns that the U.K. is heading toward tyranny. To avoid this dark fate, he recommends that we harass corporate bigwigs by, for example, trying to make them late for appointments or setting off fire alarms at their offices. Such inane babble is the downside of the Internet, “which lets any stroppy, lazy thinker with a keyboard feel important.”

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