My first riot in Birmingham

My romanian friend Tudor (on the right) is giving protesters his helping hand.

On Friday afternoon I saw my first demonstration in Birmingham. Do not get too excited though: nobody got their free Armani shirts, the demonstration was about some 10 people holding signs and shouting into the loudspeaker: “Shame on you!” in front of the Birmingham Science Park. So I went outside to make sure what was I supposed to be shamed of. As it turned out, on the second floor of the science park there is a office of a pharmaceutical company, which conducts drug tests on animals. So these youngsters (18-30 years old, I would say) came to protest about the tests, even though these tests are obviously not conducted at the science park premises.

Looking at the protesters I could not help but think that each one of them has probably taken at least 5 (more likely, 10+) animal-tested drugs in their lifetime. Among them, I’m sure that they have at least one relative or a close friend whose life was saved thanks to some drug tested on animals. Or maybe I’m wrong and they were really that principled that they would never take that (animal-tested) drug, even not when dying. Actually, refusing the drug which could save your life, just because some 40 years ago it was first tested on animals, might be a good way to write yourself into the annals of history. After all, there is a special book for people like that: it’s called Darwin Awards.

Lot of times people protest without giving too much thought of what would be if the thing they are against of did not exist. Some 10 years ago it was hugely popular to protest about usage of child labor in Asia. I think the question that the protestors should ask themselves is: “what is the alternative?”. If the alternative is what you see in Africa (millions of children malnutritioned and starving to death), then I would dare to say that child labour is good. If the alternative is those kids going to school, getting good education, founding startups and later selling them to Microsoft or Google, then the child labour is definitely bad. Unfortunately, I’m afraid the alternative is usually the former, not the latter. Meanwhile, the protestor takes an iPod out of the pocket of his GAP jeans and starts listening to music, to get his mind off those evil companies using child-labor.

So, there’s a little home assignment to you guys: think about the things that in your opinion are wrong in the world and then try to imagine the possible alternatives. Are they always that much better?


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