World Youth Day happens this Thursday, so already the Pope is in Sydney and all the security measures are happening. And what else? That's right, you guessed - protesters! There's one crowd that call themselves the No Pope Coalition, or sentiments to that effect. There are protesters handing out condoms to people attending the event at Randwick Race Course, when the Pope appears to the crowd. Some are wearing T-Shirts saying "There is no God." And all the rest. If anyone objects, they immediately start up about 'the right to protest.'
I know about the right to protest, I've exercised it myself. What I believe in is the difference between protest and harrassment.
If the protesters, or nuisances causing harrassment, hand out condoms it seems they are telling Catholics to defy the Pope. It could almost be said that they are trying to tell other people what their conscience should be.
The thing is, no one is forced to be a Catholic in the modern Western world- or at least no adult is. And the crowd celebrating with the Pope look to be mostly adults, not accompanied by large numbers of young children. They are there by choice. If they choose to practice the teachings of the Catholic Church, then trying to tell them not to seems like claiming you know better and are presuming to inform them. Either that, or it's just baiting them.
The right to protest can be used wisely and honestly or, in my humble opinion, it can be used cynically to cause aggravation. I'm not Catholic myself, although most of my close friends at high school were (I don't know if that's just coincidence or not.) If someone wants to tell me why the Catholics can't just have their event in peace, I'll listen to what they say at least. The big whinge is that it's disrupting the running of Sydney, with extra traffic, roads closed off and extra police powers for security. But the same applied when Sydney hosted the Olympics, and there wasn't nearly so much grumbling then. It's as if some people think sport is more deserving than religion. ( Actually, that is just what they do think!)
I do not deny the right of people to protest. It just seems to me that it is sometimes misused. Some people never organize anything themselves, they just wait until someone else does and then hang around it being a nuisance.
Part of respecting freedom of belief means that you respect the right of people to express their beliefs. So I wouldn't try to stop the protesters making their point, but I feel like telling them to go and get a life.