Just Stop Oil protests: success or mistake?

Beau Benoit


Perhaps drawing inspiration from nearby Andy Warhol works of art, a Just Stop Oil protester splattered a Van Gogh painting with soup. While the immediate action caused some to be utterly appalled, their message wasn’t harmful to the actual painting. It brought a lot of needed attention to the topic of climate change.

The organization’s step in activism does seem drastic, but it felt like the only possible way to be heard for some of the group. When speaking with NPR about why they crossed this border, Just Stop Oil member Phoebe Plummer mentioned how trapped they felt as an activist.

“I tried all the more traditional forms of activism,” Plummer said. “I did all the things I felt I could do for the climate, and I was so frustrated that I saw it not going anywhere.”

I applaud them for having the courage to commit to such a vilifying role for the sake of an announcement. Many are now a part of the conversation of climate change merely by speaking about Plummer and Just Stop Oil.

Anyone concerned about the painting and fearing that the protest destroyed a grand piece of art should understand that the only thing tarnished was the protective screen over the painting. There was never any danger present for the painting, and the argument that Plummer ruined one of Van Gogh’s works is deflated.

When change must occur, it’s not always a smooth transition. Many believe that an ecological tipping point may occur soon. If that’s the case, drastic measures need to take place to ensure that voices are acknowledged and understood.

When questioned by The Guardian, Just Stop Oil spokesperson Alex De Koning said, “We are not trying to make friends here. We are trying to make a change, and unfortunately, this is how change happens.” People will not always love the bitter taste of the medicine, but the medicine is necessary to keep the body going.

If the Boston Tea Party were to happen now, people would have similar reactions to the Just Stop Oil protests. While one form of protest resulted in huge financial loss due to lost tea, people still see it as a form of patriotism. It is odd that people don’t respect this harmless form of protest. Just Stop Oil has every right to exercise its protests and continue to stir the pot with its activism.