Don’t Boo the Climate Protestor

She’s fighting for your life

Paul Greenberg

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Screenshot of the homepage of Dernière Rénovation

Bread and Circuses.

That’s what came to mind when a young French activist ran onto the clay courts of Rolland Garros during a boring semi-final match of the French Open. The camera cut quickly to an overview of the stadium but those of us who took an interest were able to later piece together what had happened. A woman from the protest group Dernière Rénovation had hopped over several rows of seats, sprinted onto the court, kneeled like a supplicant, and then chained her neck to the net cord with a metal noose. Immediately there were boos from the crowd as play came to a halt. But more significantly the commentators covering the event told us that there was every good reason for those of us at home not to see the climate protestor. Recalling the brutal on-court stabbing of Monica Seles in 1993, the sportscasters told us that there was a strict policy of not glorifying match disruption.

Three more French Opens before the forces that will parch Roland Garros’s red clay become unstoppable leading to a day in the future when the courts will turn into a gritty Sahara.

I’m sorry, but a young woman wearing a t-shirt that told us, truthfully, that we have only a certain number of days left to take decisive climate action, is not a deranged murderer wielding a knife. Quite the contrary, she was fighting to stop the potential murder of millions of people who will most assuredly perish if the worst of climate change comes to pass. If the broadcasters had been at all worried about upsetting their viewers sensibilities then they perhaps might have handled a brutal scene that took place earlier in the day at Roland Garros differently. When the number three seed Sascha Zverov tripped and bent his ankle to the perpendicular and rolled in the clay, literally weeping in agony, it was a full 5 minutes before the camera cut away.

Curiously, while the two male commentators repeatedly self-muzzled and wouldn’t even identify what the protestor was protesting, Martina Navratilova somewhat to herself and somewhat to the microphone started to try to make sense of the message on her t-shirt. “WE HAVE ONLY 1028 DAYS LEFT” the shirt…

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Paul Greenberg

New York Times bestselling author of Four Fish as well as The Climate Diet and Goodbye Phone, Hello World paulgreenberg.org