Is Protesting Trump Just 'Cheap Altruism'?

You may actually hurt your interests in the long-term, ethicist says
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2017 1:59 PM CST
Campaigners demonstrate outside the United States Embassy in London, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, holding placards and wearing Trump face masks as they protest ahead of the inauguration of Donald Trump as U.S...   (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

(Newser) – Planning to participate in a protest of President Donald Trump? That may not actually be the most "ethical" choice, Corinne Purtill writes in Quartz. Participating in a general protest (as opposed to a protest of a specific policy) won't actually accomplish anything other than making you feel (incorrectly) as if you've achieved something, as one ethics professor explains to Purtill. "You're consuming cheap altruism," he says.

By participating in such a protest, Purtill explains, you might hurt your own interests in the long term thanks to "moral self-licensing." Since you feel as if you've done something good, you give yourself permission to do something not-so-good—for example, you might attend a protest but be lazy when it comes to participating in a political activity that could be more effective. Instead of protesting the mere fact Trump is president, "Save your energy and your time and use it when it really matters," the ethics expert says. Click for the full column, which includes a dissenting opinion. (Read more Donald Trump stories.)

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