Counter-Protests Overshadow Boston Tea Party Rally
April 16th, 2012
The last thing you want is for the counter-protesters’ arrests and reports of “rushing the stage” to become the main story to emerge from an anti-gay rally, as that only serves to feed the persecution complex of anti-gay extremists. The only other story to compete with that meme is that of a photo that was posted on Flickr showing a Boston police officer’s hands around a protester’s neck. Criticism of the Boston police’s handling of the Tea Party rally prompted a statement from a department spokesperson saying that they would investigate, but that due to “the aggressive nature” of the protests (the short statement used the word “aggressive” twice) the department “supports the arrests made by the officers today.” The man in the photo was reportedly not among those arrested.
According to the narrative from Boston’s primary news outlets, those appear to be the main stories behind yesterday’s Mass Tea Party Rally held on Boston Common which featured Scott Lively of Abiding Truth Ministries an SPLC-certified hate group, and Brian Camenker of MassResistance, another certified anti-gay hate group.
Turning back to the rally itself, it’s very difficult to learn exactly what was said there. MassResistance posted a headline saying, “Mob of homosexual activists overrun & nearly shut down Boston Common Tea Party event as police look on and do nothing.” But if the The Boston Globe and local television reports are any indication, it appears that the rally was neither overrun nor “nearly shut down,” nor that the police “did nothing” amid those reports of arrests and apparent abuse. Online accounts of what Lively or Camenker said are sparse. One is from Mike Ball:
Lively came on at the very end to give a benediction. Of course, given his self-righteous bent, it wasn’t a blessing at all. It was the eternal-damnation version of Deuteronomy 30. His went beyond the “I have set before you live and death; therefore choose life.” It was if you warn someone what they have to believe and they don’t do it, they’re going to hell. So there.
Some benediction, Scotto.
During his time, the counter-demonstrators kept up their yelling, calling him a murderer, in allusions to his Ugandan politicking. They did shout him down.
Ball said that turnout for the rally on Boston Common was rather small, perhaps about 100 people. About 40 more were counter-protesters. Another account, from Join The Impact MA, puts the number of counter-protests at 20, but they were joined by “100 exuberant protestors from the Occupy movement (who) charged onto the scene.” According to that account:
The din became an uproar as Lively took the microphone. In his speech, Lively blasted conservatives who would minimize the importance of social issues. Then he denounced LGBT rights activists as “fascists” who were intent on destroying civilization. Camenker met with similar pushback as he criticized the work of GLSEN for allegedly promoting homosexual recruitment of public school students—in reference to the group’s efforts to prevent anti-LGBT bullying. Lively and Camenker were loudly booed, and much of their speech-making was drowned out by Occupy chants and “mic check” counterpoint.
Not all counter-protestors joined the chanting. I (Join the Impact MA’s Don Gorton) argued that Lively and Camenker should be allowed to speak, both out of respect for freedom of expression and because they tend to discredit the opposition to LGBT equality when their extremist views are publicized. Yet the passions these two hate group leaders stir are difficult to contain. Tea Party organizers learned that giving a platform to anti-gay bigotry effectively drowns out any other message they may seek to propagate. The Boston Police kept the peace while allowing everyone an opportunity to be heard. By the time anti-government activist Carla Howell took the podium after Camenker, most of the “tea party” attendees had frittered away, the momentum of the rally dissipated.