April 1, 2006

Blogging and the Pro-Test Movement.

The NYT profiles a 16-year-old blogger, Laurie Pycroft, who's gotten a lot of attention lately in Britain:
[O]n Jan. 28, as Mr. Pycroft watched animal rights demonstrators in Oxford marching to protest the planned testing facility. He tucked in behind them chanting, "Build the lab!"

"They got quite hostile," he said. So he went to a stationery store and bought a large square of cardboard and a pen and wrote: "Support Progress. Build the Oxford Lab." When he started waving the sign on the street, someone compared him to excrement. Another person tore the sign apart, he said. He went home and shared his experience on his blog. The result was a new movement, called Pro-Test.
It's fascinating to think of one person, suddenly inspired to dash off a sign, starting a movement. You know, kind of...

In this case, blogging is what makes instant-sign move effective. It's not that he does the sign, but that he goes home and blogs about it. The article doesn't describe the process from first blog post to significant movement, but here's the blog. You can trace the process yourself.

I love the idea of one guy, alone on the other side of a big, active demonstration, and, instead of being outnumbered, using a blog to draw out the numbers on his side that exist, out there, dispersed in the general population. It must often be the case that a person encounters activists and thinks: Yes, these people are passionate and out on the streets, but I'll bet that most people disagree, but they, being more rational, are out living their lives and not inclined to take to the streets. By blogging, you don't need anyone else to be there to respond to your sign -- like the already-assembled workers in the movie "Norma Rae." Your little one-person demonstration comes alive through the description of it on your blog, which also gives you a place to detail your arguments, open a forum for discussion, and touch off debates elsewhere that can link back to you.


James R Ament said...

"Another person tore the sign apart, he said. He went home and shared his experience on his blog."

Blogging about it may also be a bit safer. Only the sign was torn up in this case, but the possibility of escalated violence by "hostile" activists isn't necessarily remote. A little bood would make the "experience" even more interesting, however!

Dave said...

Only in England would a man have the name Laurie.

Ann Althouse said...

Dave: Here's your reading assignment for today. And then watch this movie.

CB said...

I think that the great promise of blogs is that they can rally people around a moderate cause. Protests and demonstrations, by their very nature, seem to favor extreme, or at least simplistic, positions. I can't imagine marching down the street chanting, "We would support a legislatively-enacted recognition of same-sex marriage rights! However, we do not believe that the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution demands recognition of such rights!" However, I can imagine arguing that position on a blog.
Also, I am shocked--shocked--to discover that progressives responded to an opposing viewpoint with violence and intolerance.

Dave said...

I have had the misfortune of reading the book and seeing the movie you refer to.

Never again.

h said...

Yeah, but Little Women was written when New England really was NEW ENGLAND!

Ann Althouse said...

I agree that you can't call boys Laurie anymore. Weird that the "ie" ending sounds wrong in a nickname for Laurence, when it's used for all sorts of other boys' nicknames. Or is it just that we don't name anyone Laurence anymore?

Dave said...

Well, my mon's name is Laurie, so it's always jarring to see a man with the same name.

Or, for that matter, to hear Brits referring to trucks as "lorries." Or to see Brits write curb as "kerb."

Or refer to trunks as "boots."

You get my drift.

Troy said...

Laurie must feel like the poor shmoe holding a U.S. flag at these "immigration" rallies. Oh wait -- no one is holding a U.S. flag.

When I was a kid I knew 2 older men (in their 70s in the '70s) -- one named Joyce and another Shirley (can't vouch for the spelling) but both old vets from WW2.

And I agree with Dave -- no to Little Women and Oklahoma.

SippicanCottage said...
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Noumenon said...

My brother is named Lawrence. But he is known as Larry (not Larrie).

Ann Althouse said...

Noumenon: You're right. We use Larry, not Laurie -- though why one seems feminine and the other doesn't is a mystery. And you can't say it's because girls are named Laurie. Girls are named Bobby too. Girls are named Jo, yet Joe remains one of the most masculine names.

You know, poor Laurie is going to get hits from this blog and come over here only to see that all we're talking about is how we think his name sounds girly! Then he can be all Only in America would...

reader_iam said...

I grew up with more than one Laurence/Lawrence/Larry as well as female variants of Laurel in my family, so I'm OK with whatever nickname. (At least one of the Laurences was named after English forebears/relatives, known as ... Laurie).

Gosh, nowadays we give girls traditionally "boy" names all the time these days (my son's demographic cohort is awash in them--that, and any girl's name ending in "-ia." I think there are eight of the latter in his class alone.).

Long live "Little Women," "Little Men," "Jo's Boys" "The Eight Cousins" et al, I say! (But not any of the movies.)

Back on-topic:

What this kid did is great (regardless of what side of the issue he was taking), and wonderfully illustrative of the powers of the 'net and the blogging medium.

Interesting how such a supposed "impersonal" (in the sense of *NOT* "in person") medium can allow for more individual expression--with more impact--than taking to the streets en masse. The people demonstrating on the other side only got noticed because they were part of a crowd; individually, who cares who they were or what they think? Laurie, on the other hand, gets noticed for doing something antithetical to the whole notion of in-the-flesh strength in numbers.

As you pointed out.

reader_iam said...

And as kid, I always got a huge kick out of the fact that "lorry" meant "truck" in England (as did my British grandfather).

Ron said...

Perhaps Laurie will make a comeback with the very rich someday. If a book with Harry Potter-like popularity uses an unusual name, it may come back that way as well.

Ann Althouse said...

Ron: It's more likely than Larry.

Balfegor said...

Other fun male names: Evelyn and Courtney. I had a mathematics professor named Courtney. Excellent teacher. His colleagues called him "Court." And Evelyn, of course, is best evidenced by Evelyn Waugh. Who, if I recall correctly, married a woman also named Evelyn.

Girls are named Bobby too. Girls are named Jo, yet Joe remains one of the most masculine names.

Girls are also named Taylor and Sam(Samantha) and Tommy (Thomasina). Well, maybe not so many with that last. Anyhow, I once had an embarassing experience with some cousins of mine, a male and a female, and both very young (infants), and both with gender-ambiguous names. I guessed wrong.

For that matter, my names in both English and Korean are a bit gender-ambiguous. And the short form of my Korean name (what I go by generally) looks like a Japanese female name, when written in English. This has occasioned some embarrassment from time to time.

kmg4 said...

A great article on which countries in the world are pro-AMerica, and why.

John said...

There's a book called "The Charioteer" whose main character is a young man named Laurie in World War II.

SippicanCottage said...
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AST said...

I've never understood why people think that going to a protest demonstration entitles them to anything.

The protests in the 1960s in the South forcibly demonstrated how bad American apartheid was, when people did something they had a right to were subjected to abuse, or when they violated an unjust law without violence or rancor.

But what do these protesters demonstrate? They're loud and obnoxious, and their demonstrations are quite bullying. They seem to think that the rest of society should take orders from them just because they came out and carried signs. Why?

I guess I was just born too soon to appreciate that "logic."

SippicanCottage said...
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Robert The Bruce said...

SippicanCottage said...
personal fave:


As in: Bertram. Wilberforce. Wooster.

1:18 PM, April 01, 2006

Bertie Wooster.... as portrayed by Hugh Laurie!

kmg4 said...

Sippican Cottage,

Thanks. I'm glad I posted that. If you liked that one, you'll also find these fun.

The stunning defeat of socialism is the biggest story of our time.

The past and future of warfare (with predictions).

John B. Chilton said...

This comment thread has taken a very peculiar turn.

Let me return it to the central topic. I'm a man. I loved Little Women (assigned reading in high school), and I love Oklahoma!, too, except the darkside. And, may I confess?, my favorite musical of all time is South Pacific.

Surely there are fellow travelers dispersed amongst the general population who share with me these characteristics and preferences. But how can we freely associate? What medium of intercourse do we have? Few of them have stumbled into this comment thread. Yet. So how to find each other?

Ah, The Blog. Perhaps I should start a blog devoted to Little Women, Oklahoma!, and South Pacific. There's an audience, I'm sure.

Just as a Man Named Laurie no has me as a follower. Thanks to Althouse, via Instapundit.

SippicanCottage said...
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Buddy Larsen said...

Anybody who has not seen "Oklahoma!" is in for an entertainment SHOCK when/if they catch it. All those great songs and avant-corn hoe-downs.

reader_iam said...

John B. Chilton:

"Most people live on a lonely island,
Lost in the middle of a foggy sea.
Most people long for another island,
One where they know they will like to be.

Bali Ha'i may call you,
Any night, any day,
In your heart, you'll hear it call you:
"Come away...Come away."

Bali Ha'i will whisper
In the wind of the sea:
"Here am I, your special island!
Come to me, come to me!"


I'm with ya ...

reader_iam said...


Never thought of that before ...

This has a lot to say about blogging, bloggers, commenters and et cetera et cetera et cetera.

(OK, couldn't resist the reference to "The King and I".)

Hmmm ...

John Dunshee said...

While stationed in Germany in the 1970s, I worked with a gentleman named Wilfred and later with a Chinese Mormon named Wilford.

Who says the military gives you a narrow view of life?

Sam Phobos said...

Re: John. Wasn't "The Charioteer" a book about homosexuality?

Re: chilton. I don't know the "Dark Side" of Oklahoma has some humourous aspects. Remember the "Little Wonder"? Eddie Albert's remark about "What a trick to play on a friend", and carefree cowboy Gene Nelson's oblivousness to the fact he's carrying potential Murder Weapon with him.

"Oklahoma" is a really lot of fun, if you like old musicals. Gordon MacRae and Gene Nelso were veterans of many "minor" (meaning Not particularly well-known) Warner Brothers musicals mostly starring Doris Day in her pre Pillow-Talk career. Gene Nelson would go on to direct Elvis movies.

The movie also features a very humorous performance by Eddie Albert as a lecherous peddler. Very different from his best known-role on GREEN ACRES.

The movie also has a casting switch with film-Noir bad-girl Gloria Grahme playing the ingenue (Grahme is perhaps best known for playing the town vamp in "It's a Wonderful Life" ) and future Partridge mom Shirley Jones playing the flirty "Girl Who Can't Say No"