Some Things Should Not Be Ignored. Many Should. – Aaron Netsky
For the news that doesn’t really matter, I look to see what’s trending on Twitter. That’s the only reason I was aware that there was a Straight Pride Parade in Boston this past weekend. A few more details trickled in this morning: it was sparsely attended, except by protesters, and it was essentially a Trump rally. I vaguely remember it being talked about on The View sometime in the past. Whenever that was, it seemed like a pretty silly thing, but also not worth thinking about.
When I first saw it trending, I still knew virtually nothing about it, because I’d been ignoring it. I took the words “Straight Pride Parade” at face value and pictured a gay pride parade but less fun and interesting. Upon closer inspection, it does seem like it was much more malicious in spirit than just a grayscale gay pride parade (full disclosure: I’ve never been to a gay pride parade either). And yet, it still seems like it would have been better if it hadn’t trended on Twitter, if it hadn’t been protested as robustly, if at all.
It should have been completely ignored, which, from what I read, it essentially was by non-protestors. There were people marching, there were floats and flags, but apparently not many spectators. And that would have been the story, except that the protesters made a big splash, and I guess there were a few confrontations. It would have happened, and it would have meant nothing. Of course, if that had been the story, it wouldn’t have stopped there: they’d have been mocked on television, which they will be anyway, probably are being as I write this and as you read it. We can’t just let something like this go by without blowing it up bigger than it should be.
I am reminded of the 2017 presidential inauguration, when the story really was the very low turnout. A sparsely populated National Mall, empty bleachers on the parade route, and a very embarrassed president, who made all of his employees pretend it was otherwise. There were protesters at the inauguration, but they couldn’t get anywhere near it, and so it was as eerily quiet as it deserved to be. Then the next day, around the country, there was a huge event that was its own story. It was a protest, yes, but also a meaningful rally that couldn’t be ignored.
Some things shouldn’t be ignored. The lack of action on gun control, for instance, the reigning in of reproductive and LGBTQ rights, police violence against black people. We should not ignore sexual assault and harassment, as we did for so long. But other things? I can think of no better way to ensure future Straight Pride Parades than shaming the participants loudly for this one. If it had just been a dud, they would have slunk away, tails between their legs, and pretended to their friends it was a bigger deal than it was, but they wouldn’t be motivated to do it again. But they got attention, they got a reaction. They issued a challenge, and we issued a challenge right back, and so such things escalate.
I realize the irony of drawing yet more attention to the event by using it to make my point, but I think the damage is already done. Even though I’m not a parent, I still know that the best way to respond to a tantrum is to ignore it. Don’t reward loud noises and bad behavior with attention. If it weren’t hard to ignore things, they wouldn’t need to be ignored. But especially now, we need to choose our battles, we need to be picky about where we put our energy and resources. There are a lot of fronts where we need to stand firm, and if we spread ourselves too thin, if we get distracted by shiny things (or things that are specifically the opposite of shiny), we weaken our position where it counts. Ignorance is not an option, but ignoring can sometimes be the right course of action.