How to Constructively Protest Hate Speech

Michigan, unfortunately, has become a home to many neo-nazi types recently. So I’ve had to deal with not only noose incidents, but an actual, bona fide, student hate group. Ugh.

The student hate group invited Ryan Sorba, author of a (unpublished) book called “The Born Gay Hoax”, to Michigan State University. (The talk was advertised with flyers proclaiming “Gays Spread AIDS“, by the way.)

Sorba repeatedly makes a connection between homosexuality and child molestation, and uses some very distorted readings of some very specious papers to try to prove that homosexuality is an unnatural choice. He’d also like to recriminalize sodomy.

He’s obviously full of BS, so I won’t go into debunking that here. Short version: He’s nasty and hateful.

Sorba also recently visited Smith College, and the two visits couldn’t be more different.

At Smith College: (Via Pam’s House Blend)

“After about twenty minutes he was forced to abandon his speech after protesters forced their way into the room and drowned him out.”

From MSU: (Via HateWatch)

“About 100 MSU students made it to the talk. At least two-thirds were anti-YAF demonstrators who silently protested Sorba’s message by wearing brightly colored “I Have a Story” T-shirts and holding signs aloft throughout Sorba’s 90-minute presentation.”

There also was a “Seven Nights for Equal Rights” series of programs that focused on bringing positive speakers, and a showing of the film “For the Bible Tells me So.” And a fundraiser where people pledged a penny for each Word of Hate uttered by Sorba to the Michigan Equality Campaign.

Same hate speech; two very different treatments. Which is better?

Discuss :)

(cross posted at Skepchick)

10 thoughts on “How to Constructively Protest Hate Speech

  1. The heckler’s veto, while it can feel very satisfying, can actually be a sign of weakness in your position. Anyone can use it- you don’t have to be right and you don’t have to have a cogent argument. You just have to be loud.

    It doesn’t fell very good sitting quietly holding a sign while a hate-filled asshat spews venomous lies, particularly if they are directed against you. It’s hard to wait and only later calmly make your case. Still, you can only do it if you have a case to be made. And you get to call folks on it if they turn around and try to use the heckler’s veto on you. I’m with the MSU students here.

  2. As a young person in Metro Detroit, it had surprised me while growing up how prevalent racism is here in Michigan. Your taught that racism is wrong. So when you see it or hear it in person, its still comes as a shock.

    Of course, as I got older and read about the circumstances and the history of Detroit, I began to realize, “Well, DUH!”… Not that that makes any of it right.

    Fortunately, I think groups like Young Americans for Freedom are an extreme minority that will continue to spin its wheels. Once can hope, anyway.

  3. Funny. I know how to constructively deal with anti-racist speech, and it doesn’t cause me any angst. It starts with a club, and ends with a communist in the hospital …

  4. Wow Bug Girl. You have a real, actual Nazi commenting on your blog (#3). I didn’t think those people even existed any more.

    (Well, I met a few descendants of post-war Nazis while I was living in Paraguay, but they were of the inbred, 6-fingered sort that emerges after a generation or two of breeding a Master Race from too small a founding gene pool. A fitting end to the enterprise, if there ever was one. But I digress.)

  5. What I like about that is that students protested – students should protest about many things. What I have seen over the years is that peoples ability and right to protest is being eroded everywhere. No State or country has the right to stop protest!

    and uses some very distorted readings of some very specious papers to try to prove that homosexuality is an unnatural choice

    He is a six-pack short of a 2-4, unfortunately – there are many like him.

  6. I have removed the link in Comment #3 to a white supremacist website, per comments policy.

    In case anyone is interested, the link was to overthrow.com, which is chock full of the N word, and a whole host of other hateful crap. And Swastikas.
    Ugh.

  7. To josh.f13 comment Fortunately, I think groups like Young Americans for Freedom are an extreme minority that will continue to spin its wheels. Once can hope, anyway.

    The Michigan Republican Party has thrown it’s support behind YAF and even called former chair Kyle Bristow just the kind of kid they want.

    Read more about it here
    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/5/1/1287/67991

  8. I’d say the MSU students led the more effective protest — shouting down the speakers may be more satisfying, but it also makes the folks you’re protesting look like martyrs, which doesn’t help.

    As for Kyle Bristow, my guess is that his parents either dropped him on his head too hard, or not hard enough.

  9. Last year, when YAF brought Tom Tancredo to East Lansing, kids here tried the Smith College approach. In the end, it just garnered bad press for the protesters, charges for a few of them, and resulted in Bristow painting YAF the victim for months on end.

  10. Pingback: Pledge a penny to stop hate « rjjago.wordpress.com

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