A definition for manipulation is “to manage or influence skillfully, especially in an unfair manner” (s. Recently some climate activists entered a formal dinner with governmental officials where they tried to promote their case. One member of the government got frustrated about this intrusion and drove an activist out by force - with the result that he was suspended by the prime minister. No word about the possible trespassing of the activist. The violent action against this protester is the only thing that got criticized. What is disturbing here is not so much the neglect of a possible criminal act of these climate activists. It’s more that somehow the activists got exactly what they were looking for: With their illegal demonstration they not only drew more attention to their cause than any permitted demonstration would have done – but they also provoked a reaction from people who felt offended by their behavior. The reaction put the reacting person in a bad public light while the protesters can claim to have been simply “peaceful.” In other words, these activists influenced other people in an unfair manner – that is they manipulated them - to promote their cause.

Unfortunately, such manipulation seems to be a common pattern amongst many so-called activists: The Friday for Future protestors are striking against their duty to go to school on Friday mornings by protesting for climate issues instead: What has school duty on Friday to do with the climate? Absolutely nothing. It’s only a tool to get more protestors and public attention than any legal demonstration in the afternoon would have gotten. Other activists groups like Femen or PETA are using naked protesters to support women’s right or animal’s rights with usually no direct correlation between the fact that these protesters are naked and the case they are protesting for. It is just a tool to get attention.

This kind of behavior needs to be addressed as what it is: manipulation. If someone is connecting two things together that have no correlation to put pressure on other people he is manipulating them. Manipulation is a tool to control other people, to have power over them. Manipulation is unfair – never good. There is nothing that justifies an attempt to control others. No moral movement, no activists who are making some kind of moral claim can base their behavior on something that is immoral in itself. And that is what manipulation is – it always was and still is wrong.