Some people have given me flack on my NOM logo redesign. They say it’s unfair because the original sign, the one with the his-and-his nooses, did not come from the NOM leadership.
They have a point.
But that doesn’t mean they’re right.
I have to admit, that graphic was not my most intellectual effort. When I saw the original sign, my clock got punched and it felt like the only thing to do was yell. But you know what? I held back. Before anything else that morning, I checked NOM’s reaction to the sign. I checked NOMblog. I checked NOM’s Facebook page. I checked NOM’s Summer Tour Facebook page.
I saw nothing.
I’ve written before about how hard, how satisfying, and how hard it is to do write about these people (and yes, it is satisfying). But you can only crawl through so much hateful crap, you can only address so much of it in a logical and factual and analytical way, before you’ve got to yell. And when I saw that sign, I had to yell.
Now that I’ve calmed down (it’s sad how learn to quickly I get over that stuff: Oh, just another fanatic who wants us dead. Tell him to get in line.) I have to ask whether I’ve been fair to NOM. Can I hold NOM responsible for every nutjob who shows up in public with a sign? No, of course not. Rather, if I’m going to eviscerate NOM, I have to do it based on NOM’s choices. Ultimately, though, that’s not hard to do.
I know what it’s like to throw a rally. My first action as an activist was to organize a peaceful candlelight vigil/food drive in December 2008 to honor our lost marriage rights. It wasn’t easy to do this one month after the Prop 8 vote and a lot of people hassled me for not being more confrontational. I even saw a commenter on Queerty threaten to hijack the protest and make it more in-your-face. I saw that he was a friend of a friend on Facebook, arranged to meet, and talked him down. Hell, I convinced him to talk others down. At our vigil (headquartered at a Christian church, by the way), we provided a storage area for confrontational signs. We gave each group a briefing on the peaceful goals of the protest before sending them onto the streets, and we had reps on all the sidewalks to keep the messaging clear.
We did this with 500 protesters, 10 – 20 times the crowd NOM has drawn. And we got the positive news coverage to prove it (even from the local FOX affiliate!).
That gives me a foundation for critiquing how NOM dealt with Larry Adams at this rally. Here are the choices NOM should have made:
- When the sign appeared, a NOM rep should have gone to Adams and explained the peaceful, non-hating philosophy that NOM claims to spread.
- If Adams refused to put the sign away, they should have done the same thing with him that they do with other people they disagree with: send him from the immediate area.
- When Adams’ sign hit the news, they should have disavowed him as a supporter and explained why they didn’t ask him to pull back from inciting violence against gays.
Here’s my take on what NOM actually chose:
- Several people from NOM warned Adams to be careful in what he said to video cameras on our side, or not to talk to us at all. Yet none of them asked Adams to put away his gay lynching sign.
- Even though NOM has consistently been willing to exile those they disagree with from their rallies — to point of involving the police — NOM chose not to exile Adams.
- Brian Brown and his fellow NOMmers have repeatedly praised the behavior of their supporters and condemned pro-equality protestors as hateful and intolerant. It’s NOM who’s pushing the notion that people’s actions at these rallies reveal the character of the side they support. But NOM has had nothing to say about Larry Adams.
- Finally, this wasn’t NOM’s first chance to address Adams’ favorite passage from Leviticus. When a beauty contestant said gays “shall surely be put to death,” Maggie Gallagher’s only public reaction was to praise her for standing up against hate. Yeah, you read that right.
These are all NOM’s choices. They’re ugly choices. Brought to you by your friends at NOM.
Sometimes ya just got to yell.
UPDATE: If I had any misgivings left about this graphic, NOM’s contradictory and dishonest response has dispensed with them.