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Can Weblogs Chase Bush Out Of Britain?

Part II - 'Protests and Preferences'

One of a series of Can Weblogs...? experiments from 2002-2004.

Click here for Part I - Bare Your Bum at Bush

When George W. Bush visits Britain, it will be important to both Bush and Blair that any dissent be given close to zero visibility. The 'security' operation surrounding him (paid for by UK taxpayers) will therefore be geared mostly to keeping protestors at a distance.

There will also be the usual level of media collusion. Throwing the police against us works particularly well on this front. We either allow ourselves to be contained or risk being portrayed as violent nutbags.

This being the case, the following strategy has been laid out for British citizens who wish to let the world know what we, as a country, object to George W. Bush being invited to these shores as an honoured guest.

These activities have been laid out in a rising scale from Lightweight to Heavyweight (a few no-nos have also been added for those suffering from advanced red mist). How you choose to approach the matter will depend on your general availability/locale and the strength of your conviction.

Speaking of conviction, you should be aware that police are going to be rather toey during the visit. Even some of the Lightweight activities could see you arrested for a breach of the peace. If you look like you present any threat to the reputation of George W. Bush, you are also likely to be searched and/or taken into custody (probably under anti-terrorism legislation) or hemmed in and illegally detained (in the interests of 'public safety').

You need to be a aware of these risks, but you also need to be aware that many of these risks exist in order to discourage you and others from taking action that is well within your rights.


Make Yourself Available

The visit has been planned for midweek - Wednesday 19th November to Friday 21st November - in order to reduce the potential number of protestors. Details of the itinerary are sure to be vague and misleading to further reduce the possibility of George W. Bush being confronted directly by coordinated action. To counter this, you need to be in or near London, and you need to be available to move at a moment's notice. Booking time off work in advance will greatly reduce complications.

Write Letters

Write a letter to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth (who made the invitation) and send an email to Tony Blair (who almost certainly arranged it). Let them know that you're less than happy.

In the weeks leading up to the visit, write a letter to any of these newspapers to voice your displeasure (not all of them are likely to print such letters, but we live in hope):

UK Newspapers - Contact/Editorial Links
Express | FT | Guardian | Independent | Mail, Evening Standard and Metro | Mirror | Sun | Telegraph

US Newspapers - Contact/Editorial Links
Boston Globe | Economist | LA Times | New York Times | Washington Post | Washington Times | The Weekly Standard | USA Today

Do we really want this man in our country?


Lightweight Division

Don't be put off by the name. We need happy, normal-looking people who can pass by the police cordon and enter exclusion zones. If you've never taken part in a protest in your life, then this option is probably best for you. Attend. Dress nice. Smile. Mingle. Carry nothing but a plan, and be ready to do any of the following:

'Boo' at Bush

It's quick, easy, infectious... and boy, it'll make you feel good. Wait for him to pass and let rip. If enough secret squirrels attend, the booing will be loud and clear. If not, at least you will have learned that there's something fundamentally wrong with the universe and know that next time firmer action will be called for.

Turn Your Back on Bush

This is the most reserved gesture you can make, but it has dignity and is unlikely to draw the ire of any rabid Bush-supporters that may be in attendance. Wait for him to approach and simply turn slowly but deliberately in the opposite direction, showing him your back. This will show an adequate level of disrespect and make it easier for you to spot potential snipers.

Flip the Bird at Bush

I think I saw in a movie somewhere that a raised middle finger is regarded to be an insult in some parts on the United States. Wait for Bush to pass, and present this gesture in a subtle yet visible manner. Waving fingers above your head and screaming obscenities is sure to get you shunted to the back, so make it clear and firm, but play it close to the chest. The ideal result you want from this is a dynamite photo courtesy of the attending press.

The remarkable difference one little finger can make.

Middleweight Division

Bare Your Bum at Bush

The baring of buttocks (or 'mooning') is a show of defiance that's as old as civilisation itself. It's not without its legal risks (and there is going to be a considerable nip in the air), but done as a lone act of defiance it can bring a great deal of satisfaction. When done with friends, it enhances the power of your statement and creates a bond that you will share forever. If you do plan on a single moon, be prepared to hit and run. If you plan on a group mooning, keep it to a select group of friends and don't announce or discuss details of your plans on public websites or message boards. According to some reports, police have Interwebnet access too.

Be cheeky, but please do be sensible.

Heavyweight Division

Join a Formal Protest

The Stop the War Coalition is planning a range of activities that will take place throughout the visit. I would urge anybody who still believes in the effectiveness of traditional forms of protest to attend these events and swell their numbers - just be aware that if you are carrying a placard or carrying any anti-war paraphernalia you are unlikely to get within two blocks on the George W. Bush. You are also likely to be harassed, photographed and possibly illegally detained by the police. Blair may spout rubbish about us being lucky that we live in a democracy that 'allows' us to protest, but the truth is that his government has used extremely questionable techniques to undermine and inhibit our right to do so.

(During the DSEi protest, dozens of people were searched and two were arrested under the Terrorism Act. During the worldwide peace protest in March 2003, London was the only city in the world not to host a protest outside a US embassy. Take a look at how this was achieved and try to calculate what the cost was to taxpayers merely to help Bush save face.)

But police aren't the only weapon at the government's disposal; we also have certain media owners to worry about. Staunchly pro-Blair/Bush newspapers and TV stations will do their best to belittle or demonise protestors. This being the case, as the instigator of the Bare Your Bum at Bush campaign, I would politely ask those who attend a formal protest to keep their buttocks under wraps at all times. Mooning in such circumstances does little good (you won't get anywhere near Bush) and plays right into the hands of scumbags like Rupert Murdoch.

If you wish to declare your allegiance to the Bare Your Bum at Bush movement without compromising the good work of more legitimate organisations, then please do feel free to use the following image on a placard or banner (clicking on the sample below will open a large version in a new window).

Click for large version in new window

Extreme Division (a few no-nos)

Exercise Common Sense

As silly as it sounds, aiming a beam of light at George W. Bush is likely to get you arrested or shot. Remember that he will have his own stormtroopers with him at all times, and someone willing to take a bullet for a man who isn't really the President is not likely to be the sharpest knife in the drawer. You should resist all temptation and leave your laser pointer at home. And your camera, too - just to be sure.

Confronting police just gives them an excuse to detain you. Even attempting to make a Bush omelette can get you arrested for criminal damage. To an egg.

In short, you should feel free to express your anger, but do exercise common sense.

Finally, while Bush's mouthpiece Ari Fleischer may see fit to flout US law prohibiting the assassination of foreign leaders by dropping less-than-subtle hints, you should not under any circumstances attempt to pierce George W. Bush's brain with a bullet. It's not only a close-to-impossible shot, it's a very silly thing to do.

We don't want him to leave in a box, we just want him to leave.

ALERT LIST - If you would like to receive information regarding Bush's visit and possible planned events, send an email to manic AT bloggerheads DOT com to go on the alert list.

UPDATE - Ooooh, look! We have a new poster for you to enjoy (clicking on the sample below will open a large version in a new window).

Click for large version in new window

Back to 'Can Weblogs...?' for further results and updates.

Backing Blair - open a new window

Click here for the Backing Blair campaign!