Paul Loebe is frustrated, and rightfully so. He’s in a delicate position, and he’s already had multiple people claim he made career-ending moves.
All he’s done is asked Camp Pendleton to host a single atheist event – Rock Beyond Belief 2 – just like the massive list of Christian events at the base. It is worth noting that Camp Pendleton appears to co-sponsor these events with a surprisingly influential local group of end-times prophecy nutters.
7 weeks after Paul submitted his request…
Paul went back and forth several times in April with the ‘Marine Corps Community Service’ (MCCS) developing his request based on their moving goalposts. After a few rounds of this game, they finally deemed his request acceptable and promised to get back with him after they conduct a ‘feasibility assessment’ as part of their ‘vetting process’.
Paul once again asked for the status. This is the reply:
Mr. Loebe –
Per our last email, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton has begun its vetting process regarding your proposed Rock Beyond Belief 2.
Vetting will continue, understanding that training takes priority aboard the Base. Unfortunately, it is too early to forecast training events, major Base-wide events or road construction occurring in June/July 2013.
I would ask for a little more patience.
So I called this person directly, and had a chat. It was friendly enough, and we both agreed that this shouldn’t have been put on the back-burner.
I explained to him that the date was arbitrary at this point, and we would do it next month if permitted. The Summer of 2013 was chosen as a friendly long-term ‘breathing room’. It was hoped that such a choice would allow both parties to overcome all of the same roadblocks that I encountered at Fort Bragg.
Unfortunately, the very first step in the approval process is now delayed precisely because we offered so much time. So we are removing this problem.
RBB 2 is now officially scheduled for ASAP
The dates we are submitting are not going to be public just yet. Our volunteer team now has to fix all the graphics and verbiage too – simple, but tedious. We know we may lose some of our performers due to fluctuating schedules and long-term booking (especially for the more famous performers, and touring bands).
Interestingly, it turns out that this line of response was crafted several weeks back, but remained unsent. “We [MCCS] thought the legal review team sent it, and they thought I sent it… so it didn’t get sent… Also the Freedom of Information Act request you filed took several days of my time.” – (paraphrasing)
Meanwhile, look what Paul Loebe was dealing with while MCCS was sitting on their response to him.
Look at all my trials and tribulations
When he submitted his initial request to the base, a civilian added a lot of high ranking people to the cc-line. Meanwhile, back at his unit – this was initially treated as ‘jumping the chain of command’ because he had the audacity to hit ‘reply-all’.
They also claimed that talking about atheism ‘was political speech’. Basically, this is a scare-tactic that is offered under the guise of free advice. A JAG lawyer once tried on me too. “The word ‘political’ can refer to ‘of policy’. So when you criticize policy, you’re being political. Which can get you in deep trouble.”
After digging through a facebook profile he set up, they noticed he claimed a political affiliation. There were no posts about politics, and Paul told me he didn’t even use that account after he set it up. Either way, it is deleted now.
Paul was marched into several offices at different levels in his chain of command, and berated and threatened. Emails about him from higher up were shown to him in a threatening way. He was specifically ordered not to do an atheist event (now rescinded.) Luckily, Paul’s local unit seems to be more supportive lately.
(more below the fold)
Overall, the situation can be described as frustrating progress. We expect a bumpy ride, and we realize that there aren’t ‘bad guys’ in this story. Two steps forward, one step back.
Please keep paying attention. In the next few weeks we should be getting the FOIA documents back that detail all of the end-times nutters interactions with this base. That way we know exactly what sort of equal treatment to demand, how it will need to be funded.
I don’t really have a meaningful suggestion for how readers can help at this point. I assure you, that day is coming soon. Expect the megaphone, and expect a plea for your help in the near future.