On Saturday, London activists held a massive demonstration to protest the pope's visit on three counts: 1) that the UK government helped fund the pontiff's publicity tour as if he were a head of state, 2) denouncing the church's views on a variety of issues, especially those affecting women and gay people, and 3) refusing to be silenced against church officials' appalling conduct during and after the abuse scandals. The seasoned organizers -- including gay hero Peter Tatchell -- expected 2,000 people to march with them. Instead, they had 20,000. The God Delusion author Richard Dawkins gave a "stinging" nine-minute speech.
In that spirit, I attended this morning's ACT UP rally at the United Nations to demand greater access to aids medicines around the world and to call on China to release two jailed aids activists. I particularly enjoyed talking to a woman from Beijing who concisely explained the plights of Tian Xi and Hu Jia. Theirs was not the only bravery I admired.