Yesterday there was a hastily arranged, but well-attended, protest of Donald Trump’s visit to Austin in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. I wasn’t working security in any formal way, so I just brought along a grab bag of items that I thought might be useful, especially in the event of disruptive counter-protest. And in fact, a few Trump supporters did show up (including one lady who took a piece of my posterboard to make a sign that said “Africa for Trump”), and some conflict did occur–mainly verbal.
So I decided to try out the fart whistle I bought last month, on the theory that ridiculous noises can go a long way toward a. drowning out alt-right nonsense and b. defusing tension.
And wow, let me tell you, fart whistles are AWESOME. I followed an Infowars reporter around for like fifteen minutes, filling his soundtrack with farts. I stood in front of a couple of black-shirted Trump supporters who were holding a flag to block the protest, and farted merrily until they left. I punctuated any and all pro-Trump chants with well-timed farts. It really is the perfect response. Because,
- It opposes without engaging. When you blow a fart whistle, you’re not arguing with anyone. You are letting them know what you think of them and their ideas, but there’s not much they can say in response. The Infowars guy had a hard time constructing any sort of narrative in his “reports” beyond “This lady keeps blowing a fart whistle.” Which was perfectly straightforward reporting, so I had no problem with it.
- It automatically shields you against ego attacks. The only thing someone can say to insult you when you’re blowing a fart whistle is, “You look ridiculous.” Well, no one picks up a fart whistle expecting to look elegant. (There’s also a built-in rejoinder if they do say this, which is “That makes two of us.”)
- It’s fun, you can visibly demonstrate that you’re having fun doing it, and it makes people around you happy (unless they are neo-Nazis being farted at). I got hugs and high-fives and smiles and “thank yous” from lots of people. Good morale is a powerful shield against violent impulses in a crowd.
Luckily the Austin Chronicle was on scene and captured a little bit of my field testing for posterity. The video is on Instagram. (At the end of the video, right after the Infowars “reporter” whines, “How am I being an asshole?” they cut off my response, which was, “In so many ways; let’s start with your tie.”)
This was a very encouraging result for a previously untested tactic; I expect to be using and recommending more such interventions going forward. Along those lines, here are two videos that are serving as inspiration for a group I’m currently working with to oppose right-wing actions:
Finland’s LOLdiers of Odin.
Sousaphone hero at a KKK march.
I hope to have more to report on that front soon.