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Criticism of Choi continues

This commentary is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily that of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.

Timothy Kincaid

August 4th, 2010

As I’ve said before, Dan Choi has no obligation to engage in activism. Nor should there be any expectation that he do so for free. The man needs to make a living.

But if his activism decisions appear in any way to be based solely on financial considerations, that is going to anger some who feel disappointed or slighted. One such person is Nonnie Ouch, the president of the Gay-Straight Alliance at Texas Tech University.

Nonnie had been a fan. (Dallas Voice)

I was sitting on the ground when you began speaking. Then I heard you say, “But of all those things that are worth fighting for, love is worth it. Love is worth it!” I got goosebumps and immediately rose to see you speak, despite my exhaustion. As you were finishing, I had tears in my eyes. What you said impacted me more than any other speaker that day. I had then decided that I was in undeniable agreement with you — that love was worth it. Love was worth what were to be sleepless nights, three-hour conference calls, upsetting those who didn’t want change, inspiring those who did, and growing into myself all at the same time. Because of you, I decided that love was worth traveling to places to participate in demonstrations and protests when I couldn’t afford it, holding people in the movement accountable for their actions, educating those who were ignorant, and loving those who hate. After all, no amount of money can equate to love, right?

But she is now disappointed.

About a month ago, after nine months of dealing with your agent, I received an e-mail directly from you. In short, you basically said that the only way I could get you to speak is if I raised enough money to bring you to Tech. No deals, no compromises, end of story.

Dan Choi is completely entitled to choose his own appearances and to base those decisions on anything he likes. But I think that he was perhaps unwise in the way in which he is conducting his business.

Appearing to prioritize payment over activism – whether true or just perception – has hurt his ability to appear self-less, an asset that is can add to the effectiveness of his advocacy. Going forward, let’s hope he is able to avoid leaving that impression and finds a way instead to convey his inability to attend events in a manner that does not disillusion local grassroots activists or anger those who may feel slighted.

Comments

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Matt
August 4th, 2010 | LINK

The guy lost his job–officially. He’s entitled to earn enough to pay his rent and feed himself, no? Even if they pay his costs to come and give a speech, what’s he supposed to do when he gets back home, huh? I am sure he’s built up quite a lot of expenses–legal and otherwise.

I do hope he has a sliding scale depending upon who is paying him (non-profit, educational vs. “corporate”, motivational).

Regan DuCasse
August 4th, 2010 | LINK

His first known activist action, got him fired!
And he was engaged in one of the toughest jobs, for an ungrateful nation!

He’s EARNED the right to be paid for what he does.
BTW, Dr. King didn’t do his work for free.

Choi should not be expected to suffer financial hardship over having already risked his life, and sacrificed a career he LOVED.
Lighten up, Ouch. He’s more than done his share.

Matt Algren
August 4th, 2010 | LINK

I’m trying to figure out your fixation on trying to tear Choi down, Timothy. This article in particular reminds me of Glenn Beck’s standard “I’m not saying X, but X. But I’m not saying X! I’m just asking questions!!! Also, X!”

It’s transparently manipulative, and more than a little beneath this blog’s reputation.

Wayn Besen
August 4th, 2010 | LINK

As I’ve said before, if an activist is compensated based on success, Dan Choi deserves a major raise.

How many millions worth of free media did he get for the movement? So, why are we quibbling about him paying his bills?

james
August 4th, 2010 | LINK

once again knocking a guy down thats out on the front lines… paid or not he is doing more than most of us… so lets tear him down with rumors and innuendo. thats the way we gays like to do it anyways!

Burr
August 4th, 2010 | LINK

It does come off a little bad, but what is he supposed to do? Accept every offer? He only has so much time, is that best put to use preaching to the choir so to speak? Sure it’s in Texas, but it’s a university and for a GSA.

Still, I think there should be room for criticism and wariness.

John in the Bay Area
August 4th, 2010 | LINK

When are we going to hold Solomonese up to this ongoing level of criticism? I don’t see Dan Choi at the White House providing cover to the President while his Justice department works hard to defend the Defense of Marriage Act and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Mike in Houston
August 4th, 2010 | LINK

Who invites someone to an event to speak and doesn’t offer to pay their way?

It’s one thing if Choi was already going to be in Lubbock during a certain period — for whatever reason — and he took time out of that trip to visit & speak… it’s entirely unreasonable to expect him to carve out time, pay for his own travel and show up just because you wanted him to.

Student organizations have budgets for precisely this reason.

Rossi
August 4th, 2010 | LINK

I’m not going to jump to any conclusions as best possible here but I don’t think this is some kind of attack on Choi as much as just trying to figure out who our spokespeople are really working for.

I think I’ve said here before that TOO MANY organizations like HRC, EQCA, and others are really terrible at returning value for donor money, and that mostly has to do with the very fat salaries the people at the top take in. It’s why I nearly hung up on the HRC the last time they called (about a week ago), and have in the past donated more than a few grand over the years. No more. The poster above is right about giving Joe Solomnese the same treatment as Choi.

But I’m not sure it’s just a matter of perception: The image of Choi demanding he be flown first class to a school? Not so great. Perhaps this is the work of a booking agent, but to me I don’t think Dan is at the status where I’m comfortable seeing him flown first class at the expense of people who can ill afford it. MSNBC? You betcha, charge em for a private jet.

Lubbock? Not so much.

This goes beyond “being paid for his work” if in fact it’s his own choice. If it’s his booking agent, then Dan needs to keep a tab on perceptions out there.

Such perceptions (at least for me) didn’t work out so well for HRC: I don’t donate any more after seeing their pretty building in DC and the nattily-dressed executives prattling about planning the next underwear fashion show. Show me some results. To date, HRC doesn’t have a lot to show for their work other than a hate crimes law.

No thanks.

truthteller
August 4th, 2010 | LINK

This is hearsay and innuendo and BTB should know better.

So a woman at a university feels entitled to have a speaker, that inspired her, come to speak to her group, for free, and because he won’t (according to her) that somehow taints his accomplishments and makes him a persona non grata?

Dan Choi is not Mother Theresa, he does not claim to be Mother Theresa and we shouldn’t expect him to be Mother Theresa. He has every right and obligation to take care of himself. That includes having the finances necessary to live a comfortable life and pursue his activism, on behalf of the GLTB community. He was fired for being gay, remember?

Did BTB contact Choi for his side of the story, or is tearing down those who are working their ass off to help us attain equality the norm here?

Ben in Atlanta
August 4th, 2010 | LINK

An emotional appeal to “Love” is similar to the “Think of the Children” appeal made by some others you like to talk about. The woman’s love for Dan was obviously conditional. It turned into something else when she didn’t get what she wanted. This coming Sunday is World Forgiveness Day. Perhaps it should be 24/7/365.

Jake
August 4th, 2010 | LINK

Choi just give me bad vibes all around. To me, he just seems like he’s more about the limelight and adoring fans than he is about the issues.

Go ahead, attack me.

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