Bil Browning

They are already eating

Filed By Bil Browning | June 03, 2010 7:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Quote of the Day
Tags: Bridgette LaVictoire, Dan Choi, dignity fast, Don't Ask Don't Tell, fasting, hunger strike, James Pietrangelo

"Today, Lieutenant Dan Choi and Captain James Pietrangelo ended their hunger strike. They have only been at it for seven days... They were not very effective. They do not appear to have been joined by very many people, if any, in their hunger strike. What is more, this also goes against what they stated. They demanded that President Obama do certain things before they would so much as touch a drop of food. Instead, they are already eating."

-- LezGetReal writer Bridgette P. LaVictoire on Lt Dan Choi's decision to end his hunger strike over Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal.


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There's a word for breaking a fast, isn't there? Oh yeah, Breakfast!

This was a lame idea from the beginning. Hunger strikes are not the powerful activist tools they were back in the days of Gandhi and MLK. In order to influence the powers that be, the state has to have a vested interest in your welfare.

The government has no vested interest in Choi and Pietrangelo. If they had done this on a military base or while in custody, the state would have some liability. As it stands, the government had nothing to lose.

BTW, actress Mia Farrow lasted 12 days on her hunger strike last year when she was trying to call attention to the genocide in Darfur. The government ignored her too.

It is unfortunate that Dan Choi tried to appear crazier than GetEQUAL. That's a real challenge, but after this mess - Choi wins.

Just like GetEQUAL these guys didn't consider the consequences or put any planning into this publicity stunt. It's like their "direct actions" are hatched over cocktails, or something. "Threatening suicide" will be hard to top. Please don't try.

For Dan, Kip and Robin: I would like to suggest a "vow of silence" for your next stunt.

Let's get real, here. To act like the government is going to respond directly to a hunger strike is obviously not the case. Neither is it the point.

Choi's hunger strike, fast, whatever he's calling it was poorly planned and not publicized. But the zeal with which people are attacking him for this is both ridiculous and counter-productive. This is exactly the reason we've been running in place for 40 years now - when an opportunity is dropped in our laps, we start attacking each other over what to do with it. This is in direct contrast to how conservatives respond to this type of media gold, which is to coalesce and start beating down the door of every media agency within earshot.

Why in the world is everyone spending so much time ridiculing him for taking a principled stand? Why are you pointing a finger and laughing at someone trying to DO something? Whether or not you agree with the tactic, you fail to recognize the opportunity inherent within it, which is the ability to capitalize on it and take the message to the public.

I get so frustrated reading these comments on a daily basis, because it seems like, as a movement, our only goal is to tear down whatever anyone tries to do, instead of using our collective actions to a mutual benefit.

"Why in the world is everyone spending so much time ridiculing him for taking a principled stand?"

You have to learn the difference between "taking a stand" or demanding something with the threat of a meaningless suicide.

Choi's insane stunt is a good example of your childish calls for "demanding." It's more evidence that it isn't a strategy or tactic and it doesn't work.

"Whether or not you agree with the tactic, you fail to recognize the opportunity inherent within it, which is the ability to capitalize on it and take the message to the public."

This is about accountability Jordan. I don't think people are simply agreeing or disagreeing with tactics, strategies and plans - they want to know if they are effective. There is an effort to determine how to actually win not just continuing the "fight," or "struggle."

Sometimes the effort to obtain something becomes the "something." We have to move beyond "trying everything" and figure out what is effective and what it will take to win.

For decades advocates and activists alike have referred to our finishing "one of these days." That isn't inspiring and helps explain why we have very little participation in the Movement. Participation will come when we present a winning strategy with a verifiable timetable.

Accountability is step in that direction.

You continue to miss the point entirely. If the action is not effective, it is not the fault of Dan Choi, but YOUR fault for failing to take advantage of the opportunity.

There is no accountability. As I have been trying to clarify over the course of three different threads, you cannot draw a line between one group's actions and specific results. Again: was it MLK's movement and actions that compelled Kennedy to action on a Civil Rights bill, or was it Malcom X's movement and actions? Was it a little of both? There's no definite answer. Unless you're doing scientific polls every week on, specifically, what each organization is doing, how can you know whether public opinion has shifted? How can you ever measure success until the government actually does what you want (Repeal DADT, pass ENDA, etc.)?

Therefore, the issue is not that Dan Choi's fast "didn't work" or that he's "not accountable" to us for its results. The issue is that no one took advantage of the opportunity to CREATE results (including him, admittedly).

Consider, for a moment, if the situation was reversed, and it was the conservative movement that had someone fasting for the cause. Would they be throwing self-righteous demands at one-another? Would they be harping about "transparency" of Dan's fast?

No. They'd be on EVERY news channel, on EVERY radio station, on EVERY doorstep of EVERY government building in D.C., THREATENING THE DEATH OF THEIR COMRADE if the DADT compromise wasn't dropped. They'd make EVERY LAWMAKER believe that Dan Choi had been DRIVEN to this by their foot-dragging and empty compromises. They'd paint metaphorical blood over EVERY hand of our opponents to ANY media source that would listen, and let America know that unless DADT is cleanly repealed, they'd be burning in hell. They'd be lobbying LAWMAKERS and the MEDIA. They wouldn't throwing a hissy-fit about who's checking his pulse, or whether not "this is going to work."

This is EXACTLY the reason why we have been running in place for 40 years. Because every time an OPPORTUNITY drops in our lap, we spend more time acting like the United Nations then we do like a MOVEMENT.

So I'm less concerned with your mythical "accountability" than I am with the fact that neither you, nor anyone else, felt the need to get on TV and spread the word. Or the fact that no one staged a protest to raise awareness of Dan's action. I'm most concerned that we all viewed this as a reason to argue, instead of a way raise awareness, and force action.

The only tactic that appeals to Andrew is doing nothing and waiting till enough people like us to give us what ought to be our rights of citizenship.

Andrew, in 1916 activists in Ireland, and a minority of them at that, took part in a demonstration and action that was absolutely doomed to failure from the very beginning.
It was called the Easter Rising. What makes it successful in the long run is that it provoked the other side, the British Empire, to actions that lost it support, sympathy and the claims of morality and legitimacy in Ireland.

It was bloodly and costly

And, sad to say, that is what will likely end up working after the McPalinabee administration in 2013 takes dramatic steps to roll back womens rights and gay rights.

Oh, Maura. It's not 1916.

Jordan: We have a responsibility to act responsibly on behalf of the decades of contribution to our Movement. This isn't Activist-Roulette, we need to carefully consider ALL tactics, methods and strategies.

I have called Choi's "hunger strike" stupid. It was. You disagree and believe we should just try everything and see what happens. I'm curious - if Dan Choi sat in front of the White House with a loaded gun aimed at his head - threatening to pull the trigger - would that change your mind?

This whole idea of "demanding" needs to be analyzed, understood and either embraced or dismissed.

I will ask you again to sell the simpleton idea of "demanding." Tell us how it is effective.

Toddlers demand. Adults think and reason.

Jordan: We have a responsibility to act responsibly on behalf of the decades of contribution to our Movement. This isn't Activist-Roulette, we need to carefully consider ALL tactics, methods and strategies.

Yes, we do. And acting responsibly is not the same as doing nothing, which is what you advocate at every turn.

I have called Choi's "hunger strike" stupid. It was. You disagree and believe we should just try everything and see what happens. I'm curious - if Dan Choi sat in front of the White House with a loaded gun aimed at his head - threatening to pull the trigger - would that change your mind?

When did I say we should try "everything"? Hyperbole doesn't suit your argument.

This whole idea of "demanding" needs to be analyzed, understood and either embraced or dismissed.

I will ask you again to sell the simpleton idea of "demanding." Tell us how it is effective.

Your problem is just that you have no head for tactics. You think that "demanding" is the play, because you don't even know what game we're playing. Again, you fail to see the opportunities that Choi's fast presented. I'm not sure you even read what I wrote, which just makes this whole conversation tiring, because you just keep leading the conversation around in circles. Why are you even participating in this debate if you refuse to do anything but refute what everyone else says?

Dan Choi's ill-conceived stunt was based on "making demands." It failed. Sooner or later you will learn that we are not in a position to demand anything. Demands are a waste of time. I don't believe in wasting time.

In many ways, Andrew, it most certainly is 1916. And if we find out own LGBT James Connolly, Patrick Pearse, Countess Markeiwicz, Kathleen Lynn, and Mick Collins, then maybe, just maybe, we will pry what is rightfully ours, equality, out of the stony grip of those who have no intention to offer it to us.