More on the Roseburg Incident

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

I thought I'd follow up on Carla Axtman's report about the incident in Roseburg whereupon a group of mostly-grandmotherly progressives gathered in a city park for a meeting - and were driven out by a larger group of Tea Party activists bent on disrupting things.

I had a chance to chat with Sara Byers - a former legislative candidate and one of the organizers of the gathering on Sunday afternoon. She explained to me why they decided to walk away - rather than engage the Tea Party folks. "We were going to have a a very peaceful meeting. The last thing we wanted to do was get into a shouting match."

Byers told me that one of her fellow progressives (whose name I will withhold) sought to engage the Tea Party activists. "She always wants to talk with the other side. She's a firm believer in dialogue." But rather than dialogue, she was met, says Byers, "with lots of 'F' words and 'bitches'".

According to Byers, a number of TPers repeatedly said "Go back to California!" despite the fact that most of the progressives present are native Oregonians - and the Roseburg Tea Party group's leader, Rich Raynor, proudly notes that he moved to Oregon in 1995.

We've had a lot of conversation here at BlueOregon - and it's not gone unnoticed across the country. (See DailyKos, Digby's Hullaballoo, Weird Load, Stumptown Magazine, Care2...)

Over at Crooks & Liars, Dave Neiwert describes it as the "new McCarthyism". (Dave, by the way, has written extensively on rise of the new, radicalied right wing.)

The only strange thing was that it involved a bunch of senior citizens and middle-aged folks. It was obvious, for instance, that these people were hoping to provoke an angry response resulting in violence that they could then trot out as proof of liberal "thuggishness." ...

Fortunately, this particular gathering of progressives was smart enough to avoid that trap. As we see more of these attempts to provoke violence, though, I'm not so sure that's going to continue happening.

Which is an important point. They're doing this to provoke a reaction - even a violent one. And to be sure, it can be hard to keep your cool when being provoked.

Here's the best response: Get out your own camera. If you've got a smart phone, turn it on and start recording. We've had lots of reports of these provocateurs turning and running once the cameras are turned on them. At a minimum, you'll have evidence of what really happened - rather than the edited version of events that the provocateurs publish.

As for Roseburg's Rich Raynor and his Tea Party idiots, I'm glad to see that John Kuzmanich - the chair of the Oregon Tea Party - has agreed that their behavior stepped over the line.

I'm all for robust political debate (obviously), but I also think that people who want to gather peacefully to have a meeting or stage a political rally should be allowed to do so - without interference, harassment, or physical threats from those who disagree. And I'm hopeful that Kuzmanich and other Tea Party leaders in Oregon will encourage their supporters to behave accordingly.

And yes, I encourage folks on our side to do the same. Leave the Tea Party people alone. Let 'em have their rallies. Harassing them or attempting to intimidate them is a waste of time. Actually worse, since it tends to harden opinions.

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    Kari, why do you refer to them as Tea Party "activists" when the word "thugs" would be a more apt description?

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      Because I'm not inclined toward painting with an overly broad brush.

      Also, because I'd prefer to lower the volume on all this nonsense.

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    There are a lot of nice people in Roseburg but it has a long history of vigilantism. This was a hot-bed for the KKK nationally in the 1920's when KKK parades in Roseburg were covered in the national press. It has also been a center of John Birch Society since the 60's through late 80's and probably now. Since the Koch brothers are John Birch it is likely there are of course many Birchers in their Tea Party.

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      What John said. My family lived in Roseburg for a while before I was born, and I heard stories about the not-so-nice people in Roseburg.

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    What's BlueOregon's policy on banning toxic people? I followed Carla's Roseburg post for awhile, but the comments included some toxic, attention-seeking comments that had zero good intent behind them. I have enough legitimate disagreements to engage in that I don't need to watch the crazies spin their wheels and suck everyone else in.

    Some people aren't here to find solutions. They're here to feed their sick egos. I think they should get a couple of chances to shape up and then be banned. Just my two cents.

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      Other than the use of profanity, slander or threats of violence, I don't think there should be any banning. Not only is "toxic" a totally subjective measure, you would only be playing into their hands.

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        I do agree with Michael. I think what Kari suggested on the other thread--uprate the positive commentary--is a good goal.

        Failing that, perhaps figuring out how to set up a troll-o-meter might be a good thing. I am taken at times both here and at Kos by how closely and clearly the swarms of trollish behavior clearly appear to follow specific talking points.

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      Well, for starters there's the fast and easy ways to get kicked off BlueOregon -- violent threats; homophobic, racist, sexist crap; attacking someone's religion; etc.

      Beyond that, we haven't had much reason to bar trolls since we went to Facebook-authenticated comments.

      But yes, JS, I tend to agree with you that some of the comments in that thread could be described as "trollish". I tend to take a wait-and-see approach; see if they come back again and again.

      The good news is that Facebook authentication makes barring trolls much easier and permanent.

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    Good advice, Kari, on how to behave with right wing intimidation. Violence and threats of violence are their stock and trade. The terrorist attack in Norway, apparently committed by a Norwegian Timothy McVeigh, the attempted bomb attack on a group of marchers on MLK Day in Spokane, are reminders that when people sign on and make threats, as they have done here, it should not be taken lightly.

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    For clarity, that's not what I said.

    You asked,and I'm quoting you:

    "John, I'll ask directly:

    Can we agree that people who want to gather to peacefully have a meeting or stage a political rally should be allowed to do so - without interference, harassment, or physical threats from those who disagree? Just to put my marker down: My answer is Yes. And those idiots in Pioneer Courthouse Square are exactly that - idiots. Yelling at a bunch of tea party activists does nothing to further a progressive agenda. In fact, it's counterproductive, since it simply hardens the point of view of those being attacked."

    And I said to that, "Yes, we agree."

    I told you I would speak to Rich, and made no condemnation directly of the Roseburg incident you are referring to.

    I did make many references to the much bigger April 15th event you referenced where Tea Party/conservative families were attacked by assorted leftists including Democrat Party personel, with direct threats and documented violence, hate, racism, homosexual slurs, and violations of our first Amendment rights by the use of illegal airhorns to drowned out our event, that in comparison, make this Roseburg issue literally look like a day in the park.

    Videos below:

    Go to:

    and get the real story.

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      Fair enough.

      You agreed that "people who want to gather to peacefully have a meeting or stage a political rally should be allowed to do so - without interference..."

      In Roseburg, that's exactly what happened. To interfere was exactly their purpose. (I think they used the word "disrupt".)

      But if there's a distinction there that you see, and I don't, fine by me.

      Looking forward to that beer.

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