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Choi and GetEqual protest something again

Timothy Kincaid

July 29th, 2010

Lt. Choi and other GetEqual activist were arrested for photographed protesting in the Capitol Rotunda. (SDGLN)

A group of GetEqual protesters have closed down the Capitol Rotunda, specifically targeting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the lack of progress on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

The didn’t meet with Pelosi. They didn’t get any mainstream media. They didn’t accomplish anything discernible.

But someone paid attention to them and took pictures. Choi even tweeted about himself.

Success!!

Comments

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Lost Choi
July 29th, 2010 | LINK

“Success!!” ? Sorry, I can’t tell — that’s sarcasm, right?

Greg
July 29th, 2010 | LINK

It’s a really good think ACT-UP didn’t shut down Wall Street in an attempt to get attention and help for the gay community struggling with the AIDS crisis.

Oh wait. They did. And they did.

This is what we should be advocating. Peaceful civil disobedience. It’s how the women’s suffrage movement got the vote for women and it’s how the Indians gained independence from Britain and it’s how the black community got the Civil Rights Act.

Or would you rather advocate holding out an empty plate and saying, “Please, sir, I’d like some…more?”

Greg
July 29th, 2010 | LINK

Add:

I was going to share this to my Facebook, but the text associated with the story was from a Uganda story.

RJ
July 29th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy,

You should make corrections. While Dan Choi may have attended, he was not arrested and did not participate.

“They didn’t accomplish anything discernable.”

You spelled discernible incorrectly.

I would point out that they were heard by dozens, if not hundreds of onlookers walking through before the police taped off the room. They made were published on hundreds of independent blogs, LGBT media outlets, and forums.

They captured great video and photographs that have been and are being used to bring energy to the movement.

Your being separate from this really seems to cloud your ability to report on events. That and you seem to harbor an open disdain for anything GetEQUAL or Dan Choi.

I only point this out because you seem so very quick to put them down without getting accurate facts enough before writing this post.

-RJ

Lost Choi
July 29th, 2010 | LINK

Greg,
I think you raise a good point.
But I don’t think Timothy disagrees with you (correct me if I’m wrong Timothy). I think he is just pointing out that since it didn’t get any real coverage, the effort was wasted.
A case of, “If a tree falls in the forest, and there’s no one there to hear it, did it make a sound?”
In the same fashion, “If someone makes a demonstration and there’s no one who notices, has it made any difference?”

RJ
July 29th, 2010 | LINK

“A case of, “If a tree falls in the forest, and there’s no one there to hear it, did it make a sound?”
In the same fashion, “If someone makes a demonstration and there’s no one who notices, has it made any difference?””

People did notice. Looking at the video, there were plenty of onlookers who will tell others what they saw. The potential from direct interaction reaches into hundreds of people. That’s rather admirable, IMO.

Larry
July 29th, 2010 | LINK

If I had the guts to do what Dan Choi is doing I would talk about myself too. The GetEqual people are doing some heavy lifting here. In a day and age where most liberals and lefties will not raise their butt from the sofa cushion to advocate for their causes, GetEqual is getting out there and doing something. Blogging is great, but there’s nothing like a CD action to make people realize you really care about and are willing to be uncomfortable for that which you advocate.

Lost Choi
July 29th, 2010 | LINK

RJ,
Can you post the link to the vid please? I’d like to see it.

John in the Bay Area
July 29th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy,

The thing that was accomplished was calling further attention among LGBTs who supported this Administration and the Democrats in Congress to Pelosi and the Democrats unwillingness to vote on ENDA and their general unwillingness to support gay and lesbian Americans who supported and help elect this Congress.

Democrats are heading for losses this November. They will lose even more by alienating their base. This is a very strong message to Democrats that their gay and lesbian base is not happy heading into November elections.

RJ
July 29th, 2010 | LINK

Lost Choi,

You can find the video footage at http://wp.me/pv5YH-5o

-RJ

Priya Lynn
July 29th, 2010 | LINK

Here you go Lost Choi:

http://www.goodasyou.org/good_as_you/2010/07/video-speaker-meet-yellers.html#comments

james
July 29th, 2010 | LINK

wow man… at least the guy is out there doing something. if 1/4 of the gay population had the nerve dan choi does to step up then maybe we would have equal rights by now. kind of low on your part to call the people out who are out there and working and protesting and getting arrested while we sit here behind this screen in safety bitching about it. if you cant help then why are you being sarcastic on the guy? again… at least he is getting out there and getting the message out.

Timothy Kincaid
July 29th, 2010 | LINK

RJ,

Thanks for the correction about Choi not being arrested. I’ve revised the post.

And you are quite right. At least a dozen people heard about the protest.

cbjames
July 29th, 2010 | LINK

James is right.

Timothy should be ashamed of himself for this post.

I am very disappointed.

Lost Choi
July 29th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy, I support you and this post.

I too am unsure what this action was supposed to accomplish. Looking at the video, it appears it did little more than tick off about 75 tourists, about 1/3 of which were kids.

While I applaud the eight demonstrators’ convictions and intentions, I question their effectiveness and forethought. Assuming they didn’t -actually- expect Pelosi to come talk to them, the assumption is that they took this action to drive general public awareness about this issue, hoping to influence public opinion and apply pressure (and shame) to Pelosi to schedule a vote.

But with the lack of planning shown (no media attention to get the message out), it just looks (to a straight average John Q. Public) like a small band of malcontents with handheld signs, chanting in protest.

I keep waiting and hoping Dan Choi will rise up to the level of leadership I believe he was meant for. With his talent for speaking, leading, and personal power & conviction, he could lead major demonstrations and even a movement. He still has the attention of the media, and he has the attention and respect of the GLBT community – he could put it together. I keep imagining him leading thousands of discharged DADT servicemen and women, in their former uniforms, in a march on the Pentagon, demanding their right to reenlist.

That’s the type of thing a Gandhi or a Martin Luther King Jr. would do. That’s the type of powerful, relevant peaceful protest that gathers attention and leads to change.

Burr
July 29th, 2010 | LINK

Choi is on Stossel (a Fox Business program) right now.

Greg
July 29th, 2010 | LINK

This isn’t a perfect analogy, but remember there were different camps during the black civil rights fight. Some were aggressive, in the Black Panther camp. Some were peaceful but engaged in civil disobedience, in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s camp. The third group were in the, “Don’t rock the boat,” camp.

If I’m remembering correctly, Condi Rice’s father disagreed with MLK and was in the “Don’t rock the boat,” camp.

It appears, Timothy, and please feel free to correct me, but you seem to be opposing the civil disobedience crowd. It can’t be that we need to show we have numbers in the movement–the march on Washington last fall should have shown that. If you’re in the civil disobedience, but we need more going on, subcamp, then it would make sense to be bringing positive attention to the CD activities and trying to get more people to participate.

Timothy Kincaid
July 29th, 2010 | LINK

Greg,

You are mistaken. I’m not in the “don’t rock the boat” crowd. I’m in the “don’t be stupid, know what you are planning and what goal you wish to accomplish, be effective and don’t waste your abilities on pointless stunts” crowd.

In other words, Choi chaining himself to the White House fence was effective (though I think it could have been far more effective had it been planned better).

The latest efforts, I’m not so sure. They seem unfocused, poorly planned, and don’t seem to have a goal in mind. They feel, for lack of a better word, spontaeous: focused in the emotion of the moment and not in strategy. And unfortunately, while spontenaity feels good, it is seldom effective (look at those who “stormed the podium” at the NOM rally).

When engaging in civil disobedience MLK was brilliant. Everyone knew in advance that conflict was going to happen. The media was there and the public was sitting on the edge of their seat to see what was going to happen. And the protests were where the injustice was going on, not off in Washington DC directed at politicians. MLK was changing society and the hearts and minds of Americans, not the hearing date on a bill.

And MLK addressed issues for which he was well suited as an image. Choi is, unfortunately, squandering his moral authority. As a DADT spokesman he holds the advantage of being right – not only in reality but also in the minds of those who heard him. He is a true victim of an unjust policy.

But as a ENDA image, not so much. If GetEqual wants to fight for ENDA, do so around someone who horrifically and tragically was fired from a private business in a blatant act of anti-gay discrimination. And do civil disobedience that logically ties to that discrimination: block that company’s driveways (with lots of media) or state a sit in at their corporate meeting. Give the public a victim they can sympathize with and a villain that they can recognize as such.

Here we have Choi and others protesting Nancy Pelosi at the Capitol Rotunda. Few Americans see Pelosi as an anti-gay villain who is out to fire innocent gay people. And Choi’s not been a victim of private industry discrimination. You have neither a sympathetic victim nor an obvious villain.

Not only is Choi less effective at swaying the public on ENDA, it muddies his effectiveness on DADT. People now wonder, was he fired for being gay or for getting arresting blocking streets. It’s not as clean anymore – and consequently we’ve all lost a valuable tool against DADT.

Civil disobedience is effective IF it gains sympathy. Remember civil disobedience (MLK, Rosa Parks, Ghandi) does not influence politicians… it only changes the public’s position. Politicians respond to the public, not to protesters.

If your civil disobedience does not win the hearts of the television audience, then instead of a brave hero, you just come across as a rather odd attention-seeker and a public annoyance. And then you actually harm the cause.

I don’t think Choi/GetEqual has reached the “harm” stage, but they aren’t – in my opinion – achieving much support from the public.

And believe me, if I’m beginning to question whether it might be all about attention and silly blind activism-for-the-sake-of-activism, then non-gay people have long since come to that conclusion. I very much hope that my burgeoning suspicions are misplaced.

MIhangel apYrs
July 29th, 2010 | LINK

Had this happened in the Palace of Westminster in the UK it would have been at least mentioned in the main stream media, if only to allow some third rate politicians and rightwing hacks to fulminate about “a danger to parliamentary democracy (harumph!)”

It is strange that the US MSM ignored it: it happened in the heart of youir democracy!

Greg
July 30th, 2010 | LINK

So, Timothy, you’re saying that Get Equal is about as effective as ACT-UP, which was criticized in very much the same way.

I’m okay with that.

Lost Choi
July 30th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy — Your last post was very well written. You’ve hit the nail right on the head.

Greg
July 30th, 2010 | LINK

Lost Choi, by all means, agree.

Tell me what your solution is. I’m open to anything (aside from sitting by and doing nothing while we wait for spineless Democrats and our “Fierce Advocate” to get off their butts.)

Burr
July 30th, 2010 | LINK

I agree with Timothy. We can’t find anyone else with a real stake in ENDA to do a proper campaign targeting those that do discriminate?

Lost Choi
July 30th, 2010 | LINK

Greg, I’m confused: you write “Tell me what your solution is”, but I think Timothy’s post was pretty clear, as was mine. You might want to read them again.

But in short, I think I can summarize the “solution” with the saying, “If you’re going to do it, do it right.” If you’re going to protest and use civil disobedience, then do it with forethought, planning, and focus. Make it relevant, bold, impactful, and ensure that it is properly attention-getting to get your message both out & across.

Greg, correct me if I’m wrong: you seem to be in the camp of “Do something, anything.” Am I correct? My concern with that is that it leads to unfocused, ad-hoc protests that at best fail to accomplish much, and at worst may even backfire.

Priya Lynn
July 30th, 2010 | LINK

Lost Choi, saying the solution is to “do it right” with no specifics isn’t a solution at all. Anyone can spout platitudes but they do nothing to give anyone an idea as to what a real solution would be.

Lost Choi
July 30th, 2010 | LINK

Priya, I’m concerned you and Greg are not fully reading the previous posts that Timothy or I wrote. I even wrote a full example of what a serious, impactful powerful demonstration that Dan Choi could accomplish, leading a march on the Pentagon with hundreds/thousands of DADT-discharged soldiers in uniform, demanding the right to reenlist.

That takes the kind of planning and focus discussed. But getting seven friends to walk into the Capitol Rotunda, sit down, smack the floor and hold up laser-printed signs to annoy a couple tour groups … I don’t consider that a well-planned, thoughtful, impactful demonstration.

Priya, do you consider that good planning? A good, focused, well-thought-out demonstration? Are you also in the camp of “Do something, anything”?

Priya Lynn
July 31st, 2010 | LINK

Yes, you’re right Lost Choi, I missed that suggestion but I find it highly unlikely that Choi could pull that one off – its just impractical. Given that you haven’t offered any readily achievable alternatives all you’ve got left is platitudes which are virtually useless.

I don’t know whether or not that was good planning and I have no stand on the “Do something, anything” idea. What I haven’t done however is criticize those who act while having no concrete feasible alternatives of my own to offer.

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