Civil disobedience is a hallmark of American society, but what happens when your message is inaudible?
That was a question many viewers had during tonight’s Democratic debate in Houston, after a group of protesters—in the final minutes of the event—broke out in chants over former Vice President Joe Biden, who was trying to make his closing statements. Biden, who did not have a great night overall, seemed to stumble as he tried to answer a softball question about what professional setback most affected his life. But he went into full-on silent mode when the chants broke out. The disruption lasted for at least 20 or 30 seconds.
But that wasn’t the biggest problem. You see, basically, no one could understand what message the protesters were trying to communicate. And that was a problem. Was it something about climate change? Medicare for All, maybe? Did they miss Andrew Yang’s sweepstakes? Who could tell? It all sounded like a bunch of arrhythmic gibberish. As a flood of Twitter comments poured in after the protests, the online chatter was no help at all:
Tip for protesters: Speak in unison so we at home can hear what you’re protesting about. #DemDebate
— Rebecca Lavoie (@reblavoie) September 13, 2019
I, too, would like to know what the protesters were saying, so here, too, is a tweet about it.
— Cody Johnston (@drmistercody) September 13, 2019
Those protesters where giving me Charlie Brown teacher realness #DemDebate
— Deanéy ΘMΣGλ (@DeaneyOmega) September 13, 2019
Protesters need to work on message discipline. That was a jumble of nothing. #demdebate
— Bob Cesca (@bobcesca_go) September 13, 2019
Inaudible or not, such disruptions are becoming a familiar refrain during the 2020 primaries. At the CNN debate in late July, rowdy demonstrators shouted over candidates including New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Biden. But in that case, at least we knew what they were protesting—President Obama’s immigration policies and the killing of Eric Garner in New York City.
This time around, we got nothing. After all, tonight’s debate went on for almost three hours, with no genuine standout moments. And it’s late, you guys! If you really want to stay up and debate the merits of civil disobedience, you can watch the segment below and decide for yourself if this was a protest worth having:
— Satnsfrnd (@Satnsfrnd) September 13, 2019
Otherwise, I’ll see you bright and early tomorrow!