Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Not Knowing When to Leave the Party

In Canada’s biggest city, thousands of Tamil protesters just don’t know when to go home – literally. They began blocking a major downtown Toronto intersection this past Sunday evening, and have been there straight through Monday, and part of Tuesday.

The protesters – wanting to remain until Wednesday – are holding their peaceful protests in front of the American Consulate, on Toronto’s University Avenue. They want Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama to publicly condemn what they call the genocide of thousands of Tamils, in a long standing war back in their homeland, that has lasted over two-decades.

Toronto Police Services are watching the situation, but haven’t taken any actions until today, as the protesters remain peaceful – they are just blocking traffic.

This isn’t the first time Tamil protests have impacted traffic in Toronto – this is one of many demonstrations we’ve seen over the past few weeks. All the protests have been peaceful, just a pain for those trying to commute in and around the area.

Regardless of their reasons for protesting, by continuing this extended protests, they are doing more harm than good.

In Canada, we enjoy the freedom to gather in public places, yell, stomp and scream in groups about many things we just don’t agree with. Many countries around the world lack the basic freedom of public protest.

However, once you’ve made your point, move on, and get on with your life. There is more to life than standing in the street, jumping on your soap box.

The longer the Tamil protesters stay, the less of a message they make, at the cost of being a huge public nuisance.

Pedestrian and vehicle traffic is affected, and the occasional fight has broken out among those in the area. Though for the most part – we must emphasize – the demonstrators have been peaceful.

But when you become a problem for the rest of the world walking by, just trying to live their lives, you the messages you wanted to originally get across become blurred and vanish, as everyone focuses on the negative impact on the public, instead of what the protest is all about.

It’s like that story, of the party guest that just doesn’t know when to go home. Everyone at the party has long since gone, but that one person, despite the host’s not-so subtle hints, remains. Eventually, fed up and tired, the polite party host bursts out, asking the guest to go home.

I think it is time we ask the Tamil protesters to go home – just like the party guest in the tale above – they have overstayed their welcome.

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