October 19, 2015
The Power of Violence and Injustice
Violent acts are more captivating than peaceful anecdotes; the reason why the media primarily reports negative stories. Surprisingly, the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) wrote an article discussing the use of violence as a tactic in the media; our news is filled with violence and injustices because “sudden disaster is more compelling than slow improvements” (BBC.com). While some may argue non-violent action best sends a message to the public, it is violence and injustice that captivates the population, not peace and tranquility. If we recognize this, than one can better see that others may use violence and injustices to manipulate public attention.
Many people are under the common misconception that peaceful acts are the most productive means to social change; however, it is injustice and violence that attract attention to events and individuals such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi. One of King’s most famous actions was when he led 2,500 marchers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge to Selma, Alabama. The march was intended to be peaceful but quickly turned violent when the marchers were “attacked and beaten by police on the other side” of the bridge (PBS.org). During this period, large protests were not a rarity and often received little attention. However, once the police started harshly beating the peaceful protestors in Selma, the world quickly became interested. “Televised images of the brutal attack presented Americans and international audiences with horrifying images of marchers left bloodied and severely injured, and roused support for the Selma Voting Rights Movement” (PBS.org). The news reported these beatings and the world watched the violence in awe; the march to Selma was not newsworthy because of the peaceful actions of the marchers, but because of the violent actions of the officers. Thus, showing that violence is what attracts the attention of the people. Additionally, Gandhi was an international world peace advocate, best known for his Salt March in which he peacefully protested the salt laws and the British rule as a whole. Many think the Salt March is famous because of the peaceful protestors, however, similar to King’s march to Selma, the British police beat “hundreds of non-violent protesters in Dharasana [India], which received worldwide news coverage” (Gandhiheritageportal.org). The Salt March and the march to Selma are just two examples of how violence and injustice focused the world's attention on peaceful protests, but only after the world saw these protestors as victims. King and Gandhi’s actions took place decades ago, but the same argument holds true today. When violence or an injustice takes place, it tends to attract public attention, often creating a turning point on a social issue. Throughout history and up through present day, we see examples of how violence and injustice have attracted public attention.