Brynn Craffey

Update on homophobic Von’s petitioner….

Filed By Brynn Craffey | February 16, 2008 5:48 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: free speech, homophobic behavior, religion, right-wing

The same right-wing religious, homophobic, anti-Democratic activist had his table set up in front of my local Von’s again today. Sadly, a man and women looking to be in their early 50’s were avidly perusing and signing his petitions as I walked in.

This time, though, I ignored the petitioner. Totally refused to engage with him and sought out the store manager instead. In a friendly manner, speaking politely and calmly and not caring if anyone overheard, I asked the manager what the store’s policy was on people collecting signatures out in front.

He was immediately defensive. “Oh, you mean that guy out there?” he shrugged in the direction of the petitioner, visible through the window.

“That’s right,” I said.

“Well, he’s protected by law. There’s nothing we can do. He has the right to be there, it has to do with public domain. You know, the amendments…”

“I know about the free-speech protection of the First Amendment,” I said, wondering to myself about what “public domain” law could trump Von’s private property rights. But in the end I’m no attorney so I opted to avoid arguing legalities and focus instead on communicating my alternative perspective.

“So, it doesn’t matter what position he’s advocating?” I continued. “He can advocate anything, no matter how offensive?” There was an African-American man ahead of me in line with his teenaged daughter. I wanted to say, “What if he was advocating against blacks and whites marrying? He could do that?!” but I didn’t, as I know the analogy between laws against miscegenation and same-sex marriage offend some African-Americans and I was seeking to win people over not alienate them.

“No, it doesn’t matter,” replied the manager, still defensive. “What do you find offensive?”

“He’s advocating against same-sex marriage,” I said. “I find that offensive. To the point that I got into a verbal altercation with him yesterday.” The African-American man finished his purchases ahead of me and left with his daughter. I advanced in line to where the manager and I were face-to-face. “I don’t know if you’re aware, but this past week a 14-year-old boy was shot and killed up in Oxnard. In part, he was shot because he was effeminate and had come out to his classmates as gay.”

“I hadn’t heard about that,” the manager replied, looking shocked.

“That’s right. 14-years-old. Shot in the head…brain-dead. His parents donated his organs. This happened in an Oxnard middle school classroom.” I paused for an instant, to let that sink in. “The climate fostered against gays by people like this guy out in front directly contribute to acts of violence like what happened to that boy.”

The manager was visibly softening toward my position. “I hadn’t heard about that…I wish we could get rid of this guy. We’ve tried,” he sighed. “But there’s nothing we can do. He’s protected by the law. I can give you the number of the police, if you want to call them. They’ve already been called out here yesterday, by somebody.”

That was news to me. And I was glad to hear I wasn’t the only local person angered by the guy’s presence enough to do something.

I told the manager I wasn’t interested in calling the police, however, I found the guy’s presence offensive. “It’d be different if he was advocating a position on a local bond issue or something,” I said. “But what he’s doing is different. It contributes to violence against gay people.”

I then took my purchases, walked past the petitioner—looking away from him the whole time, as I didn’t want to get sucked into a verbal confrontation again—and left.


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Good for you, Brynn! I'm proud of you! (But next time, go ahead and call the cops for good measure.) Or... Since anyone can put up a table, put one up that just has a sign that points to his table that says, "This guy is a homophobic asshole who foments the murder of children."


This is the First Amendment
Everyone is protected even those you and i find offensive.

This isn't Europe where there is a double standard regarding free speech.

We don't have those thought crime laws
here yet. (thank GOD)
Even the Bush administration can't over turn the first amendment and trust me while you were in Ireland they tried.

If you want to preach gay rights you have to be willing to listen to some people preach against gay rights.

It's their right too you know.

Susan Robins
I love my Constitution and everything it stands for.


Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | February 16, 2008 6:30 PM

Sue, just what supposedly odious European "thought crime laws" are you referring to?

Also, the First Amendment does not protect all speech. Inciting to violence, for example, is NOT protected. Therefore, while the speech of the petitioner in question may be ok under the First Amendment, people like him are treading a fine line. A day may come when a direct link can be drawn between some homophobic preacher's hate speech and an act of violence committed by one of his adoring "flock;" at which point that preacher is going to be in a load of legal trouble.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | February 16, 2008 6:33 PM

Bil, that adjoining table is a great idea! Wish I had the nerve to do it.

I agree with Bil - sometimes the best defense is a good offense. Nor is it something you have to do alone. Obviously this guy has all sorts of time on his hands, but maybe you could recruit some volunteers from a local college campus to work in shifts handing out fliers and wearing sandwich boards.

I'm no lawyer, either, but I suspect that the store manager is wrong about public domain (which, incidentally, is a completely unrelated legal concept) versus private property. Maybe someone from Lamda Legal or the NCLR can help you draft a letter explaining to the store manager that he (or the property owner) can ask the petition gatherer to move to a sidewalk well away from their store entrance.

Just because the police were called, it doesn't mean the petition gatherer was within his legal rights to be in the very spot he was in. It's possible the police officers figured he wasn't doing anything disruptive and just let him be, or that they simply weren't experts in the laws under which such political activity can give way to private property protections.

Truthfully, if you and other people keep taking up the store manager's time with complaints (especially well-reasoned and emotionally engaging ones like in your story), the store manager will start looking for ways to discourage the guy from bothering their patrons.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | February 16, 2008 6:53 PM

Jere, very good points!

One thing I will do next time I go to Von's, if the petitioner is still there, is tell the manager I will NOT shop at his store as long as someone like that is out in front.


Brynn
I don't know if you know this...
If you use the term Homosexual in any territory ruled by England in any contest other then a strictly medical context you can be arrested for committing a hate crime. There are similar laws restricting the freedom of speech in the British Isles. I wouldn’t live there if the job paid a King’s ransom.

Your certinaly correct the First Amendment does not protect certain speech. What you are talking about is not covered by that restriction. If someone in the street calls another man a fag or a woman a lezzie. That is protected speech unless the person is assaulting that person and there are sufficient witnesses to verify the language was used.. I know this first hand. The last time it happened to me (here in California and not in Texas) I took care of the problem myself and the snot who called me a fag won’t be having children. (thankfully)

The guy you encountered is not treading on any sort of thin ice.
He was within his right to say what he did.
I defend that man’s right to say what he did because if I stood up and objected to what he said someone might come along and object to something I might have said and there goes your and my First Amendment down the toilet of history. Your friends in Europe have no such protection. Living in the US means being grown up enough to know that Sticks and Stones May Break Your Bones but Words Won’t hurt You.


Jere
One thing you need to know about Escondido is that is a bastion of white republican thinking The likelihood of there being any change there is somewhere between nil and zero.
I shop at a local Vons in North Park and their policy is to allow people to engage in political activism. Just because Brynn doesn’t agree with that political activism doesn’t have much impact on what Vons will allow. In North Park, a more GLBT friendly neighborhood Vons allows the same sort of people to lobby for their political causes. Personally I think it is a good thing. When I walk out I can choose to ignore them, this is the self-diesoline part of Self Government too many people on both sides of the fence forget about.

Living in the US requires that you be tolerant to the views of others even if you personally object to them.

This is America.
Freedom means you have to walk away from someone who doesn’t believe the same way you do.

I wouldn’t trade it for anywhere else in the world.

Take care,
Sue

One thing I will do next time I go to Von's, if the petitioner is still there, is tell the manager I will NOT shop at his store as long as someone like that is out in front.

That is what America is all about.
Besides you would be better off is you shopped at
Whole Foods. The food is better, even if it is a little pricey.
Take care
Sue

Michael Bedwell | February 16, 2008 7:25 PM

Bravo in excelsis to you, Brynn, but you really need to resolve the question of the legal options the store manager has before threatening to punish him for something he might not be able to do. I applaud you for telling him about the Oxnard murder and am moved that the story seemed to touch him. This is exactly what the Gay American Heroes Foundation's purpose is—to educate the public about the logical conclusion of homo/trans phobia. Bilerico contributor Waymon Hudson is on their advisory board. Again, info at www.gayamericanheroes.net, and helping them educate people like the store manager is another way of fighting the guy with the card table asking people to sign their names on the line marked HATE.

He might be a volunteer or one of the many people the religious right is paying with tens of thousands of dollars of out-of-state funding to get signatures.

Another way people can fight them is that if you have nongay family or friends in California and think they might sign, this is a time to stand up for yourself and all of us and contact them however you feel best and ask them not to. Many of you I think would be surprised at the number of people who might treat you ok to your face who are willing to help sign your rights away because they have believe all the "destroying traditional marriage" propaganda.

At the four year anniversary celebration of San Francisco's marriages the other night, Equality California director Geof Kors said that their professional polling shows that the percentage of opponents and supporters is now virtually tied. Far better than it was just a few years ago but too close to feel confidant that any ballot measure would fail in November when millions more are likely to vote due to the Presidential election.

Kors also said that the research showed that the “moveable middle” doesn’t respond positively to arguments about “rights” but do when they understand that the issue is about gay couples being able to have their love legally recognized and protected just as their own is. Hence, the ad that was created showing a bride running into myriad obstacles on her way to marry her groom. [Yes, I know that some found it too melodramatic or sentimental, but ja didn’t pay for or read the research did ja?]

Another way to fight, even from afar, is to help support their the multifaceted education campaign, please go to:

https://www.kintera.org/site/apps/ka/sd/donor.asp?c=9oINKWMCF&b=2293809&en=efIELMMuHcJEKLPwHiIHIRPzFjIXKXOvGcJGJQMtFgLOLUMDJtE

As I've mentioned in other threads, a moving documentary about those history-making days in 2004, "Pursuit of Equality-The Unfinished Work of American Freedom," was shown. The first of several times I teared up was when it showed a deaf lesbian couple getting married under the magnificent dome of SF's City Hall Rotunda [the same building in which Harvey Milk and George Moscone were murdered]—a signer translating the vows for them being read by SF's nongay, Asian woman City Clerk [she performed the first—and initially secret—marriage of gay movement icons Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin].

I'm sending copies of the documentary DVD to the LGBT student center at Indiana University, and anyone interested can purchase a copy for themselves or others at http://www.pursuitofequality.com/. It’s another form of “viral marketing” of the idea of marriage equality. [For the record, I have no connection with it other than the interest of seeing its example witnessed by as many as possible, beyond our own community especially.]

See trailer at: http://www.pursuitofequality.com/trailer.html

For far too long we have been essentially just talking to ourselves about these issues while the much better funded and RUTHLESS Right have been poisoning already homophobic minds in countless ways. We have to fight back harder and more creatively, and nothing opens people hearts and minds faster than images, whether it's an exhibit on those who were killed for just being themselves, a TV or newspaper ad asking nongays how they would feel if they were legally denied the ability to affirm their love for each other, or a documentary on 4000 couples who briefly succeeded after traveling from all parts of the country, after huddling, waiting in the rain all night, after literally having to climb over the bodies of religious psychopaths shaking Bibles at them, only to have the pieces of paper documenting their relationships legally ripped from their hands due to court actions of people who wouldn't bat an eye at the murder of a 14-yr. old gender transgressing boy in California.

PS: Whatever happened to the case in Indianapolis involving the disinherited surviving partner of a man whose mother was a homohating cheesecake queen? Is the case still ongoing? Did anyone ever picket her store?

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | February 16, 2008 9:30 PM

I took care of the problem myself and the snot who called me a fag won’t be having children. (thankfully)
....
Freedom means you have to walk away from someone who doesn?t believe the same way you do.

Bit of a contradiction there, Sue.


Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | February 16, 2008 9:33 PM

If you use the term Homosexual in any territory ruled by England in any contest other then a strictly medical context you can be arrested for committing a hate crime.

Can quote me the law? I think you've been reading too much Libertarian propaganda....

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | February 16, 2008 9:37 PM

you really need to resolve the question of the legal options the store manager has before threatening to punish him for something he might not be able to do.

You're right, Michael. Short of hiring an attorney, however, how can I find out the law in this case?

As someone who has worked in retail for many years and as a manager on several occasions, I can chime in on this a bit:

First, a lot depends on where the store is located. If it's on a public street, rather than on private property such as in a mall, and it's not blocking anything or causing any sort of disruption, in a lot of cases the cops will just leave them alone. That said, in many cases if the cops themselves don't like the people there, if they are promoting something commonly considered distasteful or offensive, or even just if they've gotten a few complaints from locals, the cops may make them leave.

If the store is on private property, then it is the policy of the property owner that holds sway. The property owner is perfectly within their rights to not allow any such tabling, to only allow it to groups which they approve of, or to only allow those who pay for the right to do so.

Also, there's the policy of the store itself to consider. Many company policies allow tabling outside their stores, but others do not. In a case where store policy does not allow it but the store is situated on a public street, there's usually a local ordinance defining how far from the front door of a store such tables may legally be set up. In addition, depending on the location, the store, and the attitude of the local cops, such tabling may be prohibited by the cops if the store or locals complain.

There a lot of gray area here, and much will depend on the attitudes of all groups involved. Your mileage may vary...a lot.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | February 16, 2008 11:33 PM

Rebecca, sounds like it might be a good idea to call the Von's area manager...?

MauraHennessey | February 16, 2008 11:44 PM

Every time that the Christian right campaigns against us, every time that the Churches launch a new anti-gay law or amendment drive, the incidence of violence against LGBT's rises sharply, the 2004 election cycle being one of the more outstanding examples.

Sue, I am sorry but the very act of seeking to block the equality of a group of citizens makes them something "less than" in many people's eyes, less than citizens and yes, less than human. The threshold for violence drops, and with it, the safety of every LGBT.

There is a direct line from speech to violence against gays and Lesbians. That line is drawn in blood and the roadsigns are damaged bodies and ended lives.

The long and short of it:

Is the store in a strip mall? If not and it's on the street, you're probably screwed.

If so and the doors face the parking lot, then you're in luck. More than likely that's private property - the store's (or strip owner's). Even if the store is solo, if the doors face the parking lot instead of a street and the table is outside the door, you've more than likely got private property.

Your best bet honestly would be to write Von's an e-mail and point them to your two blog posts here. Bad publicity is sometimes very effective.

"If you use the term Homosexual in any territory ruled by England in any contest other then a strictly medical context you can be arrested for committing a hate crime."

Sue, that is complete crap, and you know it. I've lived in England all my life and I know it, too. Yesterday I attended a seminar on bisxuality and the word, "homosexual" was used frequently and appropriately throughout.
As for, "sticks and stones", the 10 year old child who hanged themselves last week because his classmates persistently bullied him using "gay" as a taunt needn't worry about them any more.

Brynn he called me a fag as he lifted his fist to hit me. That was the only and last punch the punk got in. Everyone is allowed to say what they will...
it's when violence follows that the problem occurs.
-----
Brenn as for the law in question it happens to be in the hate crimes law passed in 2005 in England.
----


Sue, I am sorry but the very act of seeking to block the equality of a group of citizens makes them something "less than" in many people's eyes, less than citizens and yes, less than human. The threshold for violence drops, and with it, the safety of every LGBT.

That is their choice. I speak against the rights of people convicted of sex crimes all the time. I have very strong feelings regarding that group of people. The religious right doesn't run the country and they do have the same First Amendment rights as you and I do.

Since you brought it up;
As far as that ten year old child goes I have been there and have been bullied. Suicide was always an option i chose life and fought back even fought dirty, where were the child's parents? A parent's responsibility goes to his or her child first even above the needs of their own and those of their partner. The Chld's parents are partially to blame for what happened for not seeing the signs and not having good channels of communications with their child and his school. I am a perent and went through the harassment and bullying issues with my children and i put a stop to it. I made the school do their job and maintain order as long as my daughter was there. Where were this child's parents, Both of them?
Because Children come first.

Take care
Sue


The child's parents were always there for him/her and were remarkably aware of trans issues. They bought female clothes for their child to wear at home; they said that 10 was too young for cosmetics but were happy to discuss this a little later on. They believed they had maintained good relations with the school and the family was a happy one - no-one will ever know why this young person chose to die.

The child's parents were always there for him/her and were remarkably aware of trans issues. They bought female clothes for their child to wear at home; they said that 10 was too young for cosmetics but were happy to discuss this a little later on. They believed they had maintained good relations with the school and the family was a happy one - no-one will ever know why this young person chose to die.
Apaprently they didn't maintain good enough relations with the school. I have dealt with bullying issues and the school system before. They like to shine you on and go about business as usual. The only thing they understand is something that will threaten their job. My daughter had physical handicap she was partially sighted. I being a trans-parent made it clear to the school that if the problem was not solved in by the end of the week (this was on a Monday) That my daughter had anything at her disposal to end the bullying problem "that included knives and other weapons we had in the house." Yes i looked the Vice Principal in the eye and told her that. Do you know what she did? She called an assembly the next day to discuss bullying with the school children and the first No Tolerance bullying rule became a reality in California. This happened at Ross Elementary School in SanDiego in 1984. The problem was completely contained by the end of the week.

I still have to ask where were the child's parents.


For those of you who have children you need to realize then come first, if you don't like rocking the boat YOU HAVE no business having children.

I did this twenty four years ago where are you now?

if you really want a family you have to accept all the responsibility that goes with it.
If you can't you don't deserve a family.

Susan Robins

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | February 17, 2008 7:33 PM

Ok, Sue, we can see that you were the perfect parent and if only Lawrence King had had YOU, he wouldn't be dead now.

Do you ever THINK before you post some of your arrogant, offensive, and hurtful thoughts?!

This is a public forum. It is entirely possible that friends of Lawrence King and his parents, or --god forbid, his parents themselves--might read this post. In the future, Sue, don't use any of my posts as a soapbox to be judgmental. Think first and especially keep any criticism directed toward grieving parents --of whom you know nothing!-- to yourself.

Good for you Brynn. I'm glad you had a well thought out response this time.