Peaceful Protest and Civil Dialog

Today is the day for (U.S.) nationwide demonstrations for equality (see Join the Impact).

A number of our friends here in Outer Blogness have been covering the protests live, such as John R. at the Irvine protest, and many others I gathered up last Sunday in Outer Blogness. Chino has gathered up some more coverage here.

The right of peaceful assembly is a key component of free speech and civil political dialog in an open society. Every single site I’ve read where protests are actually being organized has actively made it clear that this is about peaceful free speech. However, we’re having a bit of a communication disconnect with some of the faithful LDS bloggers who claim that the protests have been violent or are characterized by threats of violence or property damage towards Mormons (see here and here).

My instinct is to see this as another tactic to shut down civil discourse: to mischaracterize the protests as not being civil dialog so that Mormons won’t have to feel bad about refusing to respond to them with civil dialog. One thing I learned in my (admittedly meager) experience with protests in grad school is that you have to keep an eye out for people who pretend to be part of your movement and say insane and inflammatory things in order to allow others to discredit your movement.

However, I may be wrong. If there have been any real threats of violence against Mormons, we need to loudly condemn them. It is a very serious matter. We’re no terrorists — marriage equality is a movement centered around peace and love, and let’s keep it that way. So if you’re marching for equality today, remember to be careful, be respectful, and above all: peace.

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12 Comments

  1. 1
    Hellmut says:

    In DC, we are meeting at the Capitol at 1:30.

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  2. 2
    Hellmut says:

    The official Mormon response reminds me of bar bullies who pick fights by grinding their heels into your foot and accuse you of throwing the first punch when you push them off.

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  3. 3
    chanson says:

    Good analogy — that’s what it looks like to me, too.

    So are you attending the march in D.C.?

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  4. 4
    PMP says:

    We’re marching for equality today in Seattle. We are also taken our 3rd grade daughter, who has been around gays and lesbians her entire life. It’s important for us to teach her love and tolerance and not to indoctrinate her with open bigotry.

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  5. 5

    I think LDS members exaggerate the violence of the protests (unfortunately there has been some) in their minds because they live in a fearful world where Satan and his minions are working to destroy the Saints by any means. As an online book, The Authoritarians by research psychologist Bob Altemeyer, points out, right wing authoritarians are driven heavily by fear, and their leaders make use of that fear to keep themselves in power. The less we can manage to evoke fear, the more we will succeed in eroding the power who use our Mormon friends and family.

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  6. 6

    “power of those who use”

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  7. 7
    Chino Blanco says:

    Let me know next time before you link to my place and I’ll step up and actually make it a post worth linking to. Sheesh ;-)

    You’re all beautiful and I hope you’re all having a great day out on the streets!

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  8. 8
    chanson says:

    PMP — great to hear from you, and please tell us how it goes in Seattle!!!

    Jonathan — I agree with your analysis, and with the importance of keeping this peaceful.

    Chino — Everything you post to your blog, you should consider it “published”! ;)

    BTW, if you might be interested in writing for us at MSP, please write to me at chanson dot exmormon at gmail dot com :D

    (that goes for other writers as well!)

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  9. 9
    Hellmut says:

    I wanted to go but, alas, was home bound due to the tail end of a stomach flue.

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  10. 10
    Craig says:

    I went to the beginning of the SLC protest, but the programme turned out to be very religious (especially Christian) and that turned me off.

    It seemed that they were saying
    “Well the Mormons don’t like you, so come be Jesusy with us! WE LOVE YOU!!!”

    I think this may be more prevalent in Utah than otherwise. I just don’t get why religion has to be a part at all at a civil rights rally. We get that some religions hate us, and some like us, but you’re really alienating the atheists and agnostics (and non-Christians) when you push liberal protestantism on an entire crowd.

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  11. 11
    chanson says:

    Hellmut — too bad, maybe next time!

    Craig — That’s too bad. It may be something of a Utah thing, trying to wrest the mantle of “God is on our side” away from the Mormons. Personally, I’d rather have integrity and the moral high ground than have the God endorsement, but to each his own.

    Too bad you couldn’t get a hold of the microphone and say something positive about non-believers and other non-Christians! ;)

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  12. 12

    [...] 90 percent of the early volunteers who walked door-to-door in election precincts, and despite some fears I reported on yesterday), the marriage equality movement appears to have moved past the focus on criticizing the CoJCoL-dS [...]

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