Want to show how angry you are? May we suggest burning your vinyl LPs. (Wikipedia)

Want to show how angry you are? May we suggest burning your vinyl LPs. (Wikipedia)

The bonfires of the vanities: Then and now

You feel strongly about something, strongly enough to protest it. What are the best ways to show your displeasure?

You feel strongly about something, strongly enough to protest it. What are the best ways to show your displeasure?

There’s one tried and true method — smash something you own. Or better yet, burn it. No better way to get attention, and change people’s minds.

Lately, the coffee machine company Keurig announced it was withdrawing its sponsorship from broadcaster Sean Hannity’s show on Fox TV. This action was prompted by Hannity not grilling Roy Moore about alleged misconduct with young women back in the day.

Roy Moore is the Alabama former judge now running for the U.S. Senate. Several women have come forward with accusations that he behaved most inappropriately towards them when they were quite young.

The coffee machine company wanted to express its disapproval, and did so in another attention-getting, highly effective way: Withholding money.

These are the two best ways of protesting. Destroying something you own, and withholding money. What happens when the two collide?

Fans of Hannity’s show reacted to Keurig’s protest with a protest of their own. They smashed their Keurig coffee makers, publicly.

It certainly got a lot of attention. Keurig then indicated it might reconsider, but there’s been no further word on that score.

Hannity at first thought the Keurig protest was “hilarious.” He even offered to replace 500 of these coffee making machines for his fans. But then the automaker Volvo also pulled its advertising, and Hannity changed his tune, calling on Moore to explain himself, etc. But his fans were still out their coffee makers.

It’s the kind of protest that makes no sense to me. You smash your coffee maker to show Keurig what you really think, but then you just have to go buy another Keurig. I assume one has a Keurig because one enjoys the convenience and taste of a Keurig brew. Hannity, too; if he goes out and buys 500 Keurig coffee makers, who comes out ahead? Keurig! It’s that strange kind of publicity that money can’t buy — but that withholding money can buy, if that makes any sense to you.

By this logic, if you are angry enough at Volvo for withdrawing sponsorship, you smash your Volvo. This may be more satisfying than smashing a Keurig, because of the greater amount of destruction involved, and it would certainly draw even more attention to your displeasure, but you can bet Sean Hannity won’t be volunteering to replace 500 Volvos, or even a single Volvo.

Makes one recall John Lennon’s unfortunate remark in 1966 that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ, which caused an uproar mainly in mainly in the southern U.S. Threats and insults were uttered, radio stations boycotted the Beatles, and teenagers made a big thing about publicly burning their Beatles records.

There’s that destruction of one’s personal property again. Considering that the Beatles just went on to become even more popular on an historic level most of those youngsters ended up repurchasing those Beatles albums. Who ended up benefitting the most? The Beatles — even though John Lennon was chastened by the whole affair.

In 1497, supporters of the Florentine preacher Savonarola collected and publicly burned thousands of items of luxury because their supposedly sinful nature. Works of art, tapestries, cosmetics, books, fancy furniture and sumptuous clothing went up in the flames of a giant bonfire. This and other occasions like it were known as “The Bonfires Of The Vanities.”

Although they weren’t conducted as protests, per se, I imagine that then, as now, the good people of Florence woke up the next day filled with regret. What had they really accomplished? And how on earth would they ever be able to replace that expensive divan.

Barry Coulter is Editor of the Cranbrook Townsman