Hive mind

In the recent uproar over which citizens should have the right to use meeting space in a public library, some inflammatory comments have been bandied about.  Let’s examine a few. (all quotes are from the video accompanying this article)

“We’re going to make sure that the nazis don’t come back.  … Or the Tea Party.  Or the libertarians.  And all of their fascist friends.”

For a variety of reasons, I haven’t discussed how I’m registered to vote (or even my voting philosophy) on this blog.  The above statement has prompted me to reconsider that stance.

I’m a registered libertarian.  I have been a registered libertarian for fourteen years.  There have been times when I’ve been very ambivalent about continuing to be registered as a libertarian (not least when Bob Barr was the Libertarian nominee for President in 2008), but I continue to have an “L” next to my name because I feel that they are one of the few political groups who are truly devoted to civil liberties, and because I believe in doing my part to have third parties like the Libertarian Party and the Green-Rainbow Party as “major parties” (and not designations) in Massachusetts.

I think it’s a dangerous thing to make any sweeping generalities about any large group of people.

At the risk of making myself sound incredibly naive, the Tea Party movement isn’t about racism, although like any area of society, there may be a few (or more) racists lurking there.  To equate the Tea Party with nazis, or with the NEWP, is simplistic and belittles the very real concerns many Tea Partiers have.  It’s not unwarranted to be concerned about where the TP is headed, about many (indeed, any) of their viewpoints, or whether they’re intellectually consistent, but it over-generalizes the motivations of the TP folks to a point where there can be no meaningful dialogue.

As to whether libertarians are fascist, I think one would have to stretch the definitions of  “libertarian” and “fascism” in some rather incredible directions to try to make that point.  I have a tough time understanding how any thinking person can put the label “fascist” on a group that believes in freedom of assembly/speech, less government, no overseas entanglements, etc.  Libertarians want to protect your liberties, not violate them.  I would also posit that many libertarians, myself included, would not agree with Tea Party members on many issues.

“The library is a place for families and children to spend time and educate themselves and not for people to advocate for genocide and slavery…”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the library is not just a nice place for nice people to learn nice things. Nor, for that matter, is any public place.  If you’re out and about, there are any number of things by which a person might be offended on any given day.  Our form of government offers many freedoms, but freedom from annoyance isn’t one of them.

Are you afraid of your children being exposed to a potentially offensive point of view?  You can choose to ignore the offensive stuff, or you can approach it as a teaching moment.  But I don’t know how you can talk about your values and help your child develop his own values if you don’t have conversations about the things that make you uncomfortable.

“Jobs – Yes!  Racism – No!  Nazis & Tea Party have to go!!”

This was one of the typical problematic slogans offered at the anti-NEWP protest last week.

Conflating the Tea Party movement with “Nazis” is like saying apples are a citrus fruit.  Let’s not forget, Nazism=Nationalsozialismus=“National Socialism”.  What part of the Tea Party movement could have seemed socialist to that protester?

And while I’m at it, I mean, really folks — who among us thinks to him/herself “Jobs – NO!”, even if s/he didn’t particularly feel like going in to work that day?

There’s an element of our society that simply wants to demonize/ban anything with which they disagree.  And they feel that if they can assemble the bigger mob, they get to decide who or what to ban.

That’s not (usually) the way this country works.  And that’s not how you effectively combat unattractive ideas/speech.  You counter them with positive ideas/speech.  To try to squash those you disagree with would make you a fascist.

Instead, consider the pledge that Libertarian Party members take when they join:

“I oppose the initiation of force to achieve political or social goals.”

It bothers me very deeply that there was at least one person at that protest who wants to make sure that I “don’t come back” because of my political beliefs (the majority of which are about non-violence and protecting people’s rights).  I sincerely hope that folks better acquaint themselves with political groups they aren’t familiar with before the next protest.

T. Vig.

A couple of weeks ago, we were driving down West Boylston Street (which isn’t my usual route to anything), and noticed a business we hadn’t seen in quite some time:

T. Vig’s was somewhat notorious earlier in the century because of its owner Thomas Vigliatura’s involvement in dealing less-than-legal drugs.

(As always, to access the links, click here first.)

In 2004, Vigliatura told the Telegram:

“Kids definitely should not be taking [steroids]. They’re illegal, so I don’t advocate them and I don’t ever, ever supply them,” he said.

Still, “kids hear me, but they don’t listen,” he said.

A year later, he (along with two Worcester police officers) was arrested for running a GHB drug ring.  Dianne Williamson got not one but two columns out of the incident.

Vigliatura eventually pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and various possession charges, threatened the life of a federal prosecutor, was supposed to testify against his co-defendent but later refused, was sentenced to an additional six months (to a total of 51 months) because of that refusal, and had to forfeit his home and business.  He was released from prison in November 2009.

Three years ago, he said that he had changed.

He opened the new T. Vig’s (pictured above) last year, and I hope he continues on the straight & narrow!

Blogger Coffee – March 15

Thanks to Katie’s mad administrative skills, we’ll be having another blogger coffee in a few weeks.

Here are the details:
time: Tuesday, March 15 from 5:30pm ’til whenever
location: Nu Cafe, 335 Chandler Street

You do not need to be a blogger to attend. 

You do not need to be a regular commenter (or even reader) to attend. 

You are more than welcome to come for as long or as short a time as makes you comfortable.  You can come late or early.  You know the routine.

However, if you need a blogger fix earlier than that, Cathy and I would like to invite you to come see Mademoiselle Chambon this Saturday, February 26 at 7:30 pm at Cinema 320.  Because nothing says “Worcester blogger” like watching a French language film.

“some goofy, left-wing, (probably) drug-abusing college kid”

You want to peruse?  Let’s peruse the rants of one of the NEWP dudes! 

…within 5 hours of the start of the business day I received a call from the head librarian, asking me at the behest of the city manager to reschedule our meeting. Within a few hours of that I received multiple calls from the media and a local rabbi. How does the posting of some goofy, left-wing, (probably) drug-abusing college kid turn into a full-court press involving media, synagogues, and local public officials?

I’m not exactly sure who this “goofy, left-wing, (probably) drug-abusing college kid” is, but if he’s available, I think I have a cousin who’d be interested in dating him.  And, you know, I’d like to help him work on his plans for world domination via Twitter and email lists.

On a more serious note, if your whole organization can be disrupted by a “goofy college kid”, what does that say about you?  If a bunch of flaky bloggers from a relatively small municipal area can get more people at a gathering than the white supremacists can get from all of New England (“half-a-dozen Whites”)…again, what does that say about you?

Also, this NEWP dude is able to do demographic analysis on the 100-foot walk from his car to a conference room.  Sign him up for the census!

We have been meeting at the Worcester, MA public library since November, without incident, even given that the patrons of the library are almost completely non-White. In fact, the only Whites I have seen there are members of our group and library staff. This is the primary reason we chose Worcester as a meeting place – many White residents have visited our website and lodged complaints that the city they grew-up in, has become alien and hostile to them and that local authorities show no concern for their rights, traditions, and heritage.

No white patrons at the library?  Really?  In a city that is 77% white?

Obviously you have never been to Legos Club.  Or Swedish Genealogy days.  And you’ve never seen my list of holds.  (Then again, I might not be white despite my pale exterior.  Scratch that last part.)

It couldn’t happen without backing from the most powerful interests in our country. Who are these people? What is their aim?

Let me tell you who they are.  They’re a bunch of nice, well-intentioned people who don’t much like the brand of fascism you peddle.  And they’re better-organized than you, not because of some world Zionist conspiracy, but because they have a clue and give a crap.

And I’ll tell you who I am.  I’m someone who will fight for your right to say any number of offensive things.  I’m someone who will be publicizing and attending any meetings you have at the library.  I will be liveblogging them if need be.  My grandfather fought in a war to get rid of fascists like you who’d overrun his country.  You will not do the same to mine.

Welcome to Worcester!

Privacy as an afterthought

I’ve fallen down on the job a bit as a blogger and a human.

In the last post, I freely quoted an event listing from the library website which included some contact information.

On another post I also allowed Sean’s comment to publish, and it contained a bit more information (a website), though I decided to withhold another person’s comment along those lines.

Nevertheless, Joe rightfully took us to task.

While Sean and I certainly didn’t intend to create trouble for anyone, Joe’s comment made me rethink allowing that contact information to be available here.  I’ve redacted the phone numbers and email addresses.  Bloggers and media outlets are sometimes too quick to facilitate the invasion of someone’s privacy.  I can’t do anything to prevent that information being available elsewhere, but this blog is one place where I can, through careful editing/moderating, raise the tenor of controverial topics and avoid publishing information which might possibly place someone in harm’s way.  Let’s face it — although we’ve had a glimpse of a certain kind of crazy lately, there’s a fair amount of “counter-crazy” trolling the blogs & media sites of central Massachusetts, and they can be just as hateful in their way as those to whom they’re opposed.

I’ll try to be a bit more circumspect here, and I challenge other bloggers & the mainstream media to be careful as well.

secret nazi moonbase

(seriously, people)

Jackie Reis’s article mentions that the NEWP has met at the library before.  Some of the calendar records are incomplete, but these folks were not hiding who they were on previous occasions.

They met on Tuesday, November 23, 2010.  Here’s the description from the library eventkeeper system:

NEWP Networking Meetup

A networking meetup for those individuals interested in learning more about preserving our civil rights and liberties – hosted by the Massachusetts Division of Northeast White Pride.

Tuesday Nov 23, 2010

7:00 PM  –  9:00 PM

Vicky Perry or Russ James    [email and phone redacted by Nicole]

Banx Room – Main Library

They also met on January 11, 2011.  Again, from the library calendar system:

NEWP Monthly Networking Meetup
A montly networking for members and prospective new members interested in preserving white civil rights.

Tuesday Jan 11, 2011

7:00 PM  –  9:00 PM

Vicky Perry or Russ James    [email and phone redacted by Nicole]

Saxe Room – Main Library