Father of one of Elliot Rodger's victims calls for people to use postcards to tackle gun crime

In an age of online 'slactivism', paper can still pack a punch, finds Gillian Orr

Since his 20-year-old son was killed last week in Elliot Rodger's gun and knife rampage in California's Santa Barbara, Richard Martinez has delivered a series of emotional and rousing speeches castigating those who he deems responsible.

"Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA," Martinez cried, his voice cracking with anger and grief. "And they talk about gun rights. What about Chris's right to live? When will this insanity stop?"

After angrily attacking the establishment's failure to pass gun-control laws, he then spoke of his intention to ask as many people as he could to send a postcard to Washington bearing the words "Not one more" [person should die because of America's gun laws].

"People are looking for something to do," he said. "I'm asking people to stand up for something. Enough is enough."

A postcard protest might appear a rather soft approach, but in the age of online "slacktivism", where, instead of raising their voices, people merely click a link online, is inundating powerful players with physical messages asking for change perhaps more effective than it sounds?

Last year, Jessica Grady from Chicago started a project called "Love Letters to Russia" to protest against the country's anti-LGBT laws and to show support and solidarity to the Russian people ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi. But instead of attacking Vladimir Putin, activists were urged to send postcards with a positive message, while clearly stating their demands.

Read more: Moio 'devastated' at being named as a ‘bully’
Renewed calls for stricter gun control
Rodger's parents warned police
Tragic echoes of David Attias killings

"I wanted to do something physical," says Grady. "It's easy to hit 'Like' or 'Share' but putting words on paper takes time, effort and thought. Hashtags don't make change. People make change. It allows for active rather than passive involvement. I wouldn't want to discourage anyone from any type of involvement, but I think it's important to get off the internet and actually do something. Sharing may be caring, but it's not changing the world. For me, it's important to connect with real people."

And it's not only issues of national or international importance that can incite activists to put pen to postcard to raise a point – seemingly lesser concerns can also be raised using postcard protests.

Members of Senior Voice, a group that speaks out for older citizens' worries in Devon, sent postcards to Downing Street last year to protest against plans to privatise the Royal Mail. Naturally, the fact that they used the service to deliver their protest only made it all the more effective.

Writing wrongs: post card activism in action in 1939 (Getty Images) Writing wrongs: post card activism in action in 1939 (Getty Images)
And if you really can't get down the Post Office to send a card, some agencies will allow you to turn your texts into a postcard. When "hooliganism" charges were brought against Azerbaijani photojournalist Mehman Huseynov in 2012 for documenting human-rights violations, Amnesty invited those concerned to text in messages of support which they then turned into postcards themselves to send to the jailed 23-year-old. He has since been released.

But not all protests are meant to result in hard action; sometimes they are merely intended to give a voice to the masses. "We never expected Vladimir Putin to kick up his feet and read our letters," says Grady. "It was a protest to say that you may try to silence our friend but you can't change us. Our main goal was posting the cards so that our Russian friends could read them and know that they have our support. I think we did make a difference because we brought people together and were able to connect."

Despite Richard Martinez's plea for physical postcards, though, his message has been eagerly picked up by users of Twitter and #NotOneMore has been tweeted tens of thousands of times. Regardless of the medium, the message is getting out there.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee