today is the day of silence,
April 10, 2002 7:20 AM   Subscribe

today is the day of silence, which was originally a project to raise awareness about hate crimes towards gays, but has been modified by many organizations (including my college) as a blanket protest against hate crimes. is "deliberate silence" an effective way to "end the silence"? if you've ever participated in the day of silence, was it harder than you expected to keep quiet all day?
posted by rabi (17 comments total)
The only thing silence can possibly do is keep the rest of us from listening to a bunch of bandwagon-jumping college students tell us how such useless gesture is going to change the world.

Actually doing something is the only thing that will make a difference. Donating money, educating children, being nicer to people on the street, or working for a cause would do a lot more good. Joining in a make-yourself-feel-good "day of___" (or Day Without ___") helps only the person participating.

And do we really need to protest against hate crimes? The only people who think hate crime is a good idea are the ones committing the crimes.
posted by bondcliff at 7:40 AM on April 10, 2002

posted by TiggleTaggleTiger at 7:42 AM on April 10, 2002

I understand your sentiments, bondcliff, but I think there's still use to activities like these for consciousness-raising and public awareness. While peaceful marches (like Take Back the Night) have a similar effect, they're still useful. No, they don't do anything specifically to stop hate crimes, but if they make people think about an issue for a couple minutes during the day, it might get their gears turning in their head. There's value in that.
posted by gramcracker at 7:56 AM on April 10, 2002

I hate the way college wanna-be hippies think they make a difference when they never actually DO anything to solve problems. We've got a bunch of kids running around writing anti-death-penalty messages in chalk on the sidewalks instead of writing to senators.

It gives them a big warm-fuzzy and nothing else.
posted by paddy at 7:59 AM on April 10, 2002

::shrugs, makes incomprehensible gesture::
posted by y2karl at 8:21 AM on April 10, 2002

(pulls out joint) "wolf, wolf"
posted by clavdivs at 8:34 AM on April 10, 2002

Paddy, most of the wanna-be hippies in college today don't do anything; just smoke pot and party. It's us over-achievers that try to do something. If you don't like anti-death-penalty messages in chalk, how about you act? One way to change things is to change public opinion. To change public opinion, you need awareness. You need people thinking. That's what the chalk is for.

I for one have little hope that writing a letter to a senator will change *anything* anymore.
posted by gramcracker at 8:36 AM on April 10, 2002

Perhaps this organization was TOO silent, cuz this is the first time I ever heard about it.
posted by mischief at 8:47 AM on April 10, 2002

I went silent for 24 hours while hiking the A.T. I'm a pretty talkative guy, so I figured that would be a good way for me to shut up and learn more about the people around me.

Instead, everybody assumed that I was deaf. Once I managed to convey that I could hear just fine, people still talked loudly and deliberately around me, and any attempt on my part to express anything resulted only in a long, drawn-out game of charades that served only to draw attention to myself, the opposite of my intention.

The result of the experiment was that I learned virtually nothing about anybody around me, was unable to communicate anything effectively, and made no useful point whatsoever.
posted by waldo at 8:49 AM on April 10, 2002

I'm with bondcliff. I don't think there's any "awareness" that needs to be raised. I'm sure that most people are aware that sometimes people assault other people for a variety of reasons. I was already aware that its not right to assault someone for any reason.

and gramcracker, what public opinion is there to change? I'm guessing most of the public is against crime already.

Not to mention that the term "hate crime" seems redundant to me. Aren't all crimes done out of hate for some reason or another?
posted by srw12 at 8:59 AM on April 10, 2002

The day of silence is not a useless gesture by a bunch of wanna-be hippies, it's a simple form of activism for people who probably wouldn't get involved any other way. And that's not because they're bad people, but because some of us are activists, and some of us aren't. It's something that marks you as a person supporting a cause that wouldn't ordinarily pop up in your daily conversation, and it does make people think about that cause. Walking into a crowded college dining hall and hearing a muted murmur of voices in place of the usual din can be a jarring, provocative moment. It may not be a letter to a congressman, but it brings something to the forefront of people's minds again and again, if only for a day. A good speech can struggle to produce that effect for a mere hour.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 9:12 AM on April 10, 2002

I'd be silent for a day to protest the odious notion of "hate crimes".

I'm damn annoyed that crime simply isn't regarded as crime, and punished sternly, regardless of motivation.

Action should be punished... never thought. Punish equally for equal action, regardless of thought.

I'm glad of this day of silence... would that the idiots who would protest "hate crimes" but not properly punish crime if no hate sparked it were permanently silent.

"Hate" crimes. Feh. All crime is hateful.
posted by dissent at 10:03 AM on April 10, 2002

I wonder if that lesbian couple's heard about this ...
posted by WolfDaddy at 10:51 AM on April 10, 2002

The LGBT chapter at my alma mater held a "Wear Jeans If You Support Gay Rights" day. Now that was pretty freaking clever.
posted by PrinceValium at 11:54 AM on April 10, 2002

Take Back the Night

This week is Take Back the Night week at my college in awareness of sexual assault. They've tied ribbons to trees and saran-wrapped monuments to make their point. And, as far as I know, it's falling on somewhat deaf--or uncaring--ears.
posted by somethingotherthan at 6:32 PM on April 10, 2002

waldo: well, you got a pretty good idea of what deaf/mute people have to put up with. silver lining.
posted by Nyx at 11:08 PM on April 10, 2002

One group (specifically promoting GLBT interests) at my college was going around silent & handing out little papers about their cause -- mostly telling us to email our president about supporting domestic partner benefits, which is a huge issue here. So you could argue they're at least raising awareness.

I didn't mind. I get annoyed by protests that are loud. They're intrusive. They have this annoying idea of "We are better people than you, so you better goddamn well be listening to us." I want to walk to class without hearing "Boycott Taco Bell" yelled fifty times. It's antagonistic, it creates "us vs. them"

But the Day of Silence -- there were a few people with signs... a lot of them wearing paper bags over their heads... and a couple people in the student senate handing out the aforementioned papers. It seemed a lot more effective. I saw a couple of administration-type people actually go out and give it a look nicely.
posted by dagnyscott at 2:08 PM on April 11, 2002

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