Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Anti-gay street group's video of supposed violence fits its record of entrapment

TFP street group creates questionable incidents of alleged 'pro-gay' violence.
Peter Sprigg, the National Organization for Marriage (and no doubt many others in the religious right) are touting the following video of a religious right organization supposedly being attacked by those who favor marriage equality:

If you don't want to seen the entire video (called Attacked by Tolerance), I don't blame you.  It merely shows snippets of incidents We don't really see many of these incidents in their entirety. This is what its summary says:

In this video, volunteers with the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) describe how they were violently assaulted by pro-homosexual "marriage" advocates while supporting traditional marriage on college campuses and in the public square.

No doubt, TFP hopes to make the video go viral and it probably will. But let's put some truth in. No doubt, Sprigg, NOM, and other who push this video will omit the following facts:

What exactly is the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property (TFP)? David Badash of The New Civil Rights Movement, a pro-gay blog, did some research and found the following:

According to their website,

TFP Student Action is a project of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property. Founded in 1973, the American TFP was formed to resist, in the realm of ideas, the liberal, socialist and communist trends of the times and proudly affirm the positive values of tradition, family and private property. The American TFP was inspired by the work of the Brazilian intellectual and man of action Prof. Plinio CorrĂȘa de Oliveira.

What We Do

Networking with thousands of students and concerned parents, TFP Student Action defends traditional moral values on college campuses. Inspired by the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church, TFP volunteers are on the front lines of the culture war, working to restore the values of Christian civilization.

TFP activities are carried out by 75 full-time volunteers and have the support of 120,000 members nationwide. The director of TFP Student Action is John Ritchie.

Now, here’s what else you need to know about TFP.

According to the UN Refugee Agency, “[i]n a 1986 article, The Washington Post described TFP as an “all-male, extreme right-wing group with chapters in 13 countries” (15 May 1986). The Brazil-based organization was financed mainly by wealthy South American families and supported the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile (ibid.). It was banned for its paramilitary activities in Venezuela, where it was implicated in 1984 in a plot to assassinate the Pope, a charge that the group denied.”

 Now the following is what I have discovered - TFP has a history of creating contrived incidents of supposed violence by gay equality supporters and videotaping these alleged incidents for use by religious right groups.

In June of last year, the organization claimed that it was attacked in New York by gay equality supporters who tore up its anti-gay banner and injured a member with a beer bottle. At the time, TFP's press release said the following:

As young TFP volunteers stood at the corner of Main Street and Church Street with signs, a pro-homosexualist hurled himself against the group’s thirteen foot long banner inscribed with “God’s Marriage = 1 Man & 1 Woman.” The banner, held by three volunteers, was knocked down and violently torn to pieces.

Watch video footage of the attack HERE.

The assailant also threatened to destroy the group’s cameras used to document their campaigns for moral values. “I’ll smash your camera,” he said.

Approaching another TFP volunteer who was holding a sign that read “Honk for Traditional Marriage,” the aggressor said: “Are you going to give me your sign, or do I need to rip it up too!?”

In a separate incident at the same demonstration, another supporter of “gay marriage” threw a beer bottle at TFP volunteer Michael Shibler from a moving vehicle. The glass bottle hit him on the forehead, causing it to swell and bleed. Local police are investigating both incidents.

“These bully tactics do not even slightly dampen my resolve to continue promoting the truth about marriage in charity. Our cause is noble and we will win,” said Shibler.

I pointed out several problems with this video.

First of all, while the video shows someone rushing up and ripping the banner, it has not made clear who this man is.

We don't know if the man is a "pro-gay activist" or just some random nut who doesn't like the group's outfits.

The second problem I have is the alleged incident with the beer bottle. This what the press release said:

In a separate incident at the same demonstration, another supporter of “gay marriage” threw a beer bottle at TFP volunteer Michael Shibler from a moving vehicle. The glass bottle hit him on the forehead, causing it to swell and bleed. Local police are investigating both incidents.

But look at the video at 1:37 when Shibler first announces that he was hit. Maybe it's my vision, but it doesn't look like to me that Shibler's forehead is swelling or bleeding. And the only thing we see of the incident is a bottle lying on the ground.

In April of that same year, TFP was protesting at Brown University. NOM implied that TFP were the victims of supposedly intolerant gay equality supporters via video on its blog. However, Badash, said that the video looked selectively edited.

And an article in the Brown Daily Herald, the college newspaper, did not report any incidents of violence. It did report the fact that the students rallied against TFP  in large, but peaceful manner.

This is not to condone violence against anyone, mind you. But I don't think that it's farfetched for me to say that the video above is bunk and full of contrived incidents of entrapment pushed to create victims where none exist.

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Xaratherus said...

Ask TFP for the police report on the beer bottle incident, or perhaps check it out in public records.

I have no doubt that there have been a few sincere incidents of violence against anti-gay activists. There are always those who will violently react, especially when they themselves have been the target of such hateful and often violent attacks.

However, I do not believe for a second that these incidents are numerous, or even really a blip on the radar.

Nor does the existence of these incidents invalidate the legal necessity of marriage equality. It's really a straw man argument. Violent protests should be prosecuted under existing law, but that has absolutely no bearing on whether marriage equality is required under our Constitution.

BlackTsunami said...

As far as I know - and I could be wrong - there is no police report of the beer bottle incident.

Anonymous said...

I am so tired of these a-holes with their “boohoo, they’re intolerant because they don’t tolerate our intolerance.” It must really be rough for them being in the majority and having constitutional protections for their lifestyle; I can see why they feel so put upon.

Anonymous said...

Mr McEwen.
First of all, I am not part of that group (I do not even live in US). However, after reading this article from a link attached by my acquaintance, I must express my disappoitment at the quality of this article.
First of all, you state a number of accusations that it is not clear whether they were actually proven or not. However, you put them in anyway to imply that they are real and hence you hope that people will believe this and become angry at the group. I do not quite understand what is the point of that UN excerpt. Are you trying to imply that the guys on the video will somehow try to assasinate someone? Or (and this seems more likely) are you trying to simply incite your audience against this group by using facts that do not seem to be conclusively proven?
Second of all, your analysis of the guy who tore up the banners is quite laughable. It is rather obvious that he will not stop and give them his name, so naturally they could not know who he was. Your statement that he could have been angry at their clothes is quite frankly astonishing, and not in a good way. If he was angry at their clothes, he would have attacked their clothes. But no, he attacked their banners. From that behaviour I believe it is safe to assume that he did not agree with their MESSAGE (not their clothes) and hence the banner attack. I believe you are simply unwilling to admit that your side of the debate is capable of such childish actions.
Thirdly, you do have a point about the bottle as there is no sufficient footage to show what actually happened. BUT then you proceed to question the whole validity of the video. However, you conveniently seem to forget about: the guys with pesticide, the woman with mace, the people who attack banners, who push and attack the group members, someone who burned their 1200 or so flyers,the guy who sprayed them with coke, the person who nearly drove them over, the guy who ripped up the bible, etc. etc. Now most of these (not all but most) incidents are an actual assault, some bordering on attempted murder. You claim that you do not condone violence, yet you attempt to excuse their behaviour by attempting to trash the whole video. Again, you do not seem able to accept that people from your side of the debate can do such things. You instead decide to ignore these and instead focus on one thing that could or could not have happened (you do NOT know whether the guy was indeed hit with a bottle - they could be lying but then you could be also falsely accusing them of lying as that is in effect what you are doing, in a very subtle way). Again, I am very disappointed at the quality of the article and your attempts to rationalise away the actions in the video.

BlackTsunami said...

My anonymous friend, I am sorry that you didn't like my post but I stand by it.

First of all, let's be clear that I am not justifying or minimizing any acts of violence.

Secondly, that "UN excerpt" was necessary because the organizations pushing the idea that this is somehow an innocent group weren't forthcoming in telling what exactly this group believes.

Thirdly, you accuse me of making accusations that have not been proven, but that is the point of my post. This group - and the organizations who try to make it seem like an innocent group beset by violent gay right supporters - have made a number of charges which they have not proven. They provided snippets on video and whine about the so-called "hypocrisy of those preaching tolerance," but other than those snippets - such as the tearing up of the sign and the allegation of the beer bottle, they are short on providing proof as to the details of these incidents. Where are the details? Where are the police reports? This group is quick to make a video of all of these events, but are short on telling us what caused these events or rather who exactly was involved? That's a credible question to ask this group because they have not been forthcoming on these things.

Antestor said...

Hmmm, seems like you take this whole victim thing very seriously, no? I agree that the melodramtic and somber presentation of the video were overplayed, but would you honestly care if they had simply uploaded the raw footage of all of these incidents and confrontations with minimal commentary? After all, you gave a stereotypical analysis--with which you apparently agree--of the group coming from the UN, an organization as likely to be impartial towards traditionalist moral views as a ham sandwich is to be found in a Kosher deli. My questions for you as the concerned blogger and gay rights advocate that you are follow thus: How does the group's activity count as "entrapment" when no one of the people filmed in question have ever objected to being characterized as favoring gay marriage? Also, which of you is doing the copying and pasting here?

BlackTsunami said...

My point is singular - we don't know a thing about said incidents short of snippet of the video and what we have been told "claimed" to have happened. But while details are short, this organization and others pushing it are making the semantic argument that gay equality supporters are violent. I say let's see better proof of it.