Bradlee Dean, Coach Dave Event a Non-Violent Melee

Anti-gay Grand Rapids business owner Brian Klawiter held his event outside Grand Rapids on Thursday night and it turned into exactly what I thought it would, thankfully with no violence. I didn’t get to go to it because I was traveling, but I’m a little disturbed at the behavior of those who went to protest the event. Here’s doing it the right way:

A group called Jenison4Love protested outside the Jenison Center for Fine Arts before Thursday’s event. They carried rainbow flags and signs that read “We are all equal,” “Love is the only answer,” “Love can’t wait,” and “We shouldn’t hate others ’cause it’s lame” with a drawing of Cartman from the TV show “South Park,” among other things.

“We really want to raise our kids believing in equality and that everyone is the same, everyone deserves the same love, same opportunities,” protester Emily Taphouse said.

I know several people who took part in that protect, which I think is great. Here’s the problem:

Some protesters also went into the auditorium for the forum. They seemed to outnumber supporters — and the protesters certainly seemed to be louder.

The event seemed to devolve into nothing but chaos at times. There was yelling, chanting and confrontations between Klawiter, speakers, supporters and protesters.

Former state Rep. Dave Agema, who has been criticized in the past for controversial statements on homosexuality, was present. Some protesters shouted at him as he spoke.

Some also shouted at Klawiter early on. After a Dieseltec supporter grabbed a protester’s face, the supporter was escorted out by officers and the protester was asked to leave. No charges will be sought against either, 24 Hour News 8 was told.

After the crowd sang the hymn “Amazing Grace,” some protesters chanted “gay’s OK.”…

During the event, one protester stood up and yelled at other protesters for being “rude.”

“You are giving them what they want,” the scolding protester said.

At one point, Klawiter told police they should be removing people who disrupted the event.

They’re both right. And if you disagree because you support the protesters’ position, as I do, let’s do a little thought experiment. Let’s say we host a similar event and bring in pro-equality speakers. We pay the rent for space and put in all the time and effort to organize it. And then a bunch of anti-gay bigots show up singing and chanting and yelling things at the speakers to drown them out. We’d be demanding that they be removed as well and we’d be just as furious.

Part of the right to speak is also the right to be heard and the right to listen to what is being said. When you try to shout down those who are exercising their rights and drown them out, you are violating their rights — and you would know that immediately if the tables were turned. And no, it doesn’t matter that our side is right and their’s is wrong. Let’s not engage in the kind of special pleading we see so often from the Christian right, let’s apply our standards consistently. Let’s protect the right of the other side to do the same thing we demand the right to do.

I’m happy to see that there were more people against discrimination and bigotry than there were supporters of Klawiter. And we should absolutely protest such events. We should not, however, disrupt them. Here’s a local news report:

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • raven

    And we should absolutely protest such events. We should not, however, disrupt them. Here’s a local news report:

    Monitors.

    1. People in large groups can get unruly. If you are trying to keep things calm and peaceful, having trained monitors helps a lot. They just ask people getting worked up to tone it down and why that is a good idea.

    Usually you can start a discussion that at least diverts the problem.

    2. Security plans.

    It’s not uncommon for proteters to be attacked. By counter protesters and sometimes the police. If you see tanks and APC’s coming your way (It happened during the Vietnam war days), go home.

    3. Watch out for people advocating violence, arson, and bombings. Disregard them and warn everyone else.

    Usually they are the FBI or DHS trying to entrap people. I’ve even seen exactly this.

  • John Pieret

    When you try to shout down those who are exercising their rights and drown them out, you are violating their rights — and you would know that immediately if the tables were turned.

    Quite right. It is perfectly permissible to sit in the audience and hold up signs or otherwise silently indicate your opposition to the speaker. Occasional groans or boos at particular statements, it seems to me, to be as appropriate applause or cheers with statements you agree with. But just trying to drown out the speaker is stupid and, most times, counterproductive.

  • marym

    Coach Dave lives for controversy and the attention it attracts. He’s always been an attention seeker and, in his mind, negative attention is better than no attention at all. He’s been looking for a media event to star in ever since his last scandal Feb. 2014 when the Lakewood Ohio school board voted against hiring him as a football coach.

    Really, ignoring him is best thing to do.

  • http://www.gregory-gadow.net Gregory in Seattle

    As a former activist with ACT-UP!, I have to disagree with some of your response in principle: there are far too many situations where direct confrontation is the only way capable to get the attention needed to change public attention. Of course, the people involved in such actions must be properly trained in how to engage in non-violent confrontation and be prepared to face the consequences.

    As for your comparison with protesting pro-equality speakers, how do you feel about white pride or straight pride? There is absolutely no way you can create a valid comparison between protesting the assertion of privilege and the assertion of said privilege. You know this, Ed.

  • colnago80

    Re maryam @ #3

    Unfortunately, that was the tack that many took in pre-1933 Germany when they ignored a certain former failed painter who found his shtick as gifted rabble rouser. How did that work out?

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Gregory in Seattle “As for your comparison with protesting pro-equality speakers, how do you feel about white pride or straight pride?”

    I went to their parade. Lots of khakis. One of them threw me beads, so, as is tradition, I showed him my golf club membership.

  • Holms

    #4 Gregory

    As a former activist with ACT-UP!, I have to disagree with some of your response in principle: there are far too many situations where direct confrontation is the only way capable to get the attention needed to change public attention.

    Perhaps, but not this one. The right to protest means all voices can go through the process to book a hall or whatever and speak their views, even shitters like the WBC.

    ___

    #5 War Crimes Apologist colnago80

    Unfortunately, that was the tack that many took in pre-1933 Germany when they ignored a certain former failed painter who found his shtick as gifted rabble rouser. How did that work out?

    Not even slightly analogous.

  • colnago80

    Re Holms @ #7

    How about the attempt at UC Irvine of pro-Palestinian demonstrators to prevent the then Israeli ambassador to the US, Michael Oran, from speaking? I assume that you think that was also out of line.

  • dan4

    Grabbing a protester’s face certainly strikes me as “violent” (“…thankfully with no violence”).

  • dingojack

    SLC (#5) – you mean Jean (Hans) Arp?

    Dingo

  • colnago80

    Re dingojack @ #10

    Arp wasn’t much of a rabble rouser.

  • dmcclean

    I don’t see any connection to Vietnam, colnago80.

  • dingojack

    SLC – not familiar with his work then?

    😀 Dingo

    ————-

    “In principle I am against manifestos,

    as I am also against principles.”

    Tristan Tzara, 1919

  • dingojack

    How about Heartfield or Grosz then?

    :) Dingo

  • colnago80

    Re dmcclean @ #12

    Huh?

  • rabbitscribe

    Hey Dingo, do you know about

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travesties

    Tzara is a very compelling and sympathetic character.

  • dmcclean

    Obviously you’re not a golfer.

    But seriously, I was comparing you to Walter Sobchak and his remarkable ability to talk about Vietnam without regard for what the topic actually is.

  • colnago80

    Re dmcclean @ #17

    Having never watched the movie, The Big Labowski, the connotation went right by me. However, I think that the attempt of Palestinian activists to prevent the Israeli ambassador from speaking at UC Irvine is right on point as the subject of Brayton’s post was the attempt to prevent the expression of unpopular views by speakers like Coach Dave.

    The reference to Hister was, IMHO, on point in response to marym’s advice to ignore controversial speakers.

    I haven’t played golf in a long time but I fail to see what any of this has to do with golf, unless the subject of golf came up in the movie.

  • eric

    Gregory in Seattle:

    there are far too many situations where direct confrontation is the only way capable to get the attention needed to change public attention

    What change was needed here?

    This was a private event, and it appears there were less people in attendance than there were protesters in the first place. What would you be trying to prevent via disruption here? Positive coverage by FOX or something? Because if that’s what the protestors were trying, they probably just gave FOX loads more red-meat video than they would’ve by not disrupting.

    Your comments seemed more geared towards protesting a government policy – resisting police, etc. – but this wasn’t government.

  • http://festeringscabofrealityblogspot.com fifthdentist

    @ eric

    I remember a few years ago Nancy Reagan broke a hip, or something, and one commenter on a thread made a remark about being glad.

    The right ate it up. Seems like both O’Reilly and Hannity did segments on it claiming that it proves the left is just as hateful as the right.

    So that means the thousands of horrible things people wrote about Teddy Kennnedy after his death were justified (in their minds) and it all equaled out. And the death wishes and threats they make are OK, because that one liberal said something mean about Nancy Reagan that one time. Hell, right-wing preachers pray for the death of the current president.

    The difference between the two — other than the vitriol and death threats that are ubiquitous on right-wing sites in large numbers — is this kind of reaction from Ed. When a person or group that is non-right steps out of bounds, they get called on it and criticized.

    Fox “news” created the atmosphere where dozens of U.S. Reps. who had town hall meetings when health care was being debated had large teabagger contingents show up. They shouted down people asking questions or the elected officials or audience members when they tried to make comments.

    Instead of condemning the people who silenced the speech of others, Fox celebrated them as heroic patriots.

    From a strategic standpoint, the more the anti-marriage people talk the more deranged they sound and the more sympathetic LBGT people become to them. One of the biggest drivers of young people abandoning churches and religion in droves is the right’s cultural war bullshit, so not only are Republicans shooting themselves in the foot, but perhaps losing an entire generation , or at least a good number of them.

  • Holms

    #8 War Crimes Apologist colnago80

    How about the attempt at UC Irvine of pro-Palestinian demonstrators to prevent the then Israeli ambassador to the US, Michael Oran, from speaking? I assume that you think that was also out of line.

    It depends what you mean by an attempt to prevent him from speaking. If they rallied to pressure the university to cancel Oran’s speaking engagement or to engage someone else, then that is entirely reasonable. If they demonstrated outside the hall or wherever the gig was while he was speaking, then it is reasonable unless they were close enough and loud enough that they were making an attempt to drown him out. If they mobbed the speech itself by entering and disrupting the event, then it is not reasonable.

    But I’m guessing you thought you would have me in a difficult bind simply because you made it about Israel / Palestine the way you always do.

  • colnago80

    Re Holms @ #21

    It is my information that they were trying to prevent him from speaking by drowning out his voice. There were numerous arrests which itself has become a cause celebre to the Israel bashers.

    Maybe the opposition should have invited Steven Salaita, a hero to the far left, to give the opposite position instead of behaving like spoiled brats.

  • blf

    There were numerous arrests which itself has become a cause celebre to the Israel bashers.

    …Israel policy and actions…, please.

  • https://www.facebook.com/app_scoped_user_id/10155673932655099/ Juliea-Thandi Paige

    I am the one that stood up and told the people to behave themselves. I am also the one who created Jenison 4 Love.

    I just want everyone on here to know that we agree with what you’ve said here – except Jenison 4 Love informed all of our group to NOT do this before and during the event. There was a small group of kids there that came out and told a lot of people in our group to go inside, and, they were also very vocal and loud and instigating the situation. When I heard what was happening I went inside and “scolded” the (small group of) kids who were doing it. Then, tried to stay for a bit, but, had to leave because I couldn’t listen to what the speakers were saying.

    On my way out I also talked to the group who seemed to be riling the situation up and asked them not to play into their hands like that – and they basically told me they weren’t here with us and would do what they wanted. Because it was a free forum open to the public, I’m not sure what exactly I could have done. I DO NOT want the stuff that went down in there to reflect on what really happened with Jenison 4 Love. The largest majority of us never even went in, and inside, only about 20 of the people “against” the talk were actually doing this. There were many people who did remain respectful. It should also be noted that the kids who stayed behind and talked more calmly at the end were the only ones to take accountability for their actions and apologize directly to the speakers for disrespecting the event. The speakers, equally aggressive, abusive, and responsible for this never did.

    The bottom line for me is this – we came together over a pretty shitty thing. That shitty thing has passed and now we want to focus on building our community with the well being of all of our residents in mind. IN JENISON. It’s a freaking miracle and we should focus on that. I know that’s what we’re doing.

  • https://www.facebook.com/app_scoped_user_id/10155673932655099/ Juliea-Thandi Paige

    All together we counted 4 separate groups that were organized opposition, but, 3 out of the 4 really did truly unite in the name of love. I just want to point out this isn’t all us and we can’t claim responsibility for everyone there.