Image credit: Robin Hood Tax
When I last wrote about the Robin Hood Tax—or the idea that placing a minute tax on every speculative banking transaction might help us fight climate change, education and health cuts, and international poverty—the online debate inevitably descended into name calling about socialism. But the campaign keeps rolling on, and a new video is pushing the idea in starkly uncompromising terms. I just wonder if framing this up as an (albeit friendly) mugging is going to alienate more moderate supporters. Campaign Tactics Matter
Leaving aside the validity of the Robin Hood Tax itself (that debate was already had on my original post), what I'm interested in here is the campaign tactics being used. As always, there's a fine line to tread between capturing eyeballs and inspiring your base, and alienating a broader section of the public.
While the debate over angry rhetoric and an appropriate tone of debate may not be quite as fierce in the UK as in America, we still have a responsibility to choose our messaging carefully. Sure, talk of eco-villains may be a useful campaign tactic from time-to-time, but when you start depicting any member of society as a legitimate target for real-world violence (however "ironically") you need to be aware that it may contribute to actions beyond your control.
Another Violent Activist Film
Just as the 10:10 Campaign's ironic yet violent video showing blown up schoolkids brought both a lot of attention and headlines, but also condemnation, ridicule and derision—so too dressing famous actors up as muggers who take what they need from the sinister looking banker is also likely to upset as many people as it inspires. And while the 10:10 Campaign example was so obviously overboard that I find it hard to understand folks who chose to take it literally—accusing the makers of eco-fascism and murderous tendencies—the tone of this video is, in my opinion, much less clear cut.
Sure, the big "reveal" at the end is intended to suggest that these muggers weren't as sinister as they made out. But given that the tactics they used were intimidation and, indeed, violence—even if what they take is next to nothing—it leaves me feeling decidedly uncomfortable.
I'd love to know what our readers think.
More on Tone and Rhetoric in Environmental Debate
Angry Rhetoric Comes from Greens Too
Will Calls to Tone Down Rhetoric Return Civility to Climate Debate?
Who Are the Real Eco-Villains?
Anti-Environmentalists Don't All Hate the Environment
Goddamn TreeHuggers: Why Do So Many People Hate Environmentalists?