Friday, October 22, 2004

Sinclair protest followup

For photos, visit Scott Huffines' blog.

Bush's Finest Show Their Mettle

So we're outside Fox 45/WNUV 54 on chilly Wednesday night, a group of 15 or so people, protesting Sinclair Broadcasting's various misuses of the public airwaves -- most notably the Bush attack ad parroted by the hacks at Sinclair's "news" division as a "documentary." There was another protest going on at Sinclair's HQ in Hunt Valley, but we decided to take our gripes directly to the station airing the program.

Everything was going by-the-books for the first half hour -- a congenial group of protesters, mostly 30-somethings and older, with many faces I recognized from other local peace rallies, standing holding signs I had drawn up earlier in the day. Some of the signs were very direct: "Sinclair Lies" and "Unfair and Unbalanced." One showed a diagram of Sinclair's plunging stock, with the words "Get the Point?" (a reference to Mark Hyman's vitriolic "The Point" screeds, aired nightly on Fox 45 local news and other Sinclair stations around the country). About one in every 5 cars honked in support, and not one person driving by gave us the finger. Two guys from Fox stood outside the door of the station. I suppose they were guarding the place from our gaggle of violence-prone liberals.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a strange threesome scoping us out. One tall guy was dressed head-to-toe in camouflage. He was sporting a baseball cap, out of which hung a ponytail. One skinny guy had a video camera and headphones -- he was the documentarian, though who he was taping for remains unknown. The third guy I'll call "Texas Tee." He was wearing a t-shirt with "TEXAS" embroidered on it and shorts -- an odd outfit for the cold, misty evening.

After scoping us out a while, they walked up to me, while the video guy taped everything, a goofy smile on his face.

Camo guy -- hereafter known as Rambo -- read my sign. "'News is Not Proganda', huh? What about Michael Moore?"

"This isn't about Michael Moore," I said. "It's about fairness and abuse of the public's airwaves."

Texas Tee laughed. "You people are fucking stupid," thus setting the level of discourse for the rest of the evening.

Rambo was standing in the street, even though cars were coming at him. He continued to block the lane, seemingly oblivious to traffic. I noticed he had a knife on his belt. He began asking questions of everyone and ignoring their answers, while his documentarian taped the scene, grinning like an imbecile.

A few of Rambo's enlightening comments:

"Heinz ketchup is made in Mexico."
"John Kerry is spending $48 million to smear Bush, and Bush is spending $19 million."
"Teresa Kerry is a millionaire." (like Bush and Cheney aren't?)
"They had to brush mud onto Kerry's shoes to make him look authentic."

I tried to talk rationally with him, but the little mob was clearly not in the mood for a discussion -- they wanted to piss us off. Any time I tried to respond to one of their points rationally, they mocked me and moved on to other attacks. As cars drove by and honked, Texas Tee would flip them off and scream "Fuck you!" and "Asshole!"

Rambo turned to an older man and began peppering him with questions. The older man said, "Why should I talk to someone with a knife on his belt?" Rambo smiled. "You should know your state laws. This is a 4-inch knife." He stroked his knife sheath.

Then Texas Tee turned to my wife, who was holding a sign that said "Unfair and Unbalanced."

"What's your sign say? What do you mean by that?"

She ignored him.

"Why are you out here? You can't even say why you're protesting!" He laughed, in a mocking, frat-boy way.

"I don't have to talk to you," she said.

I felt my blood starting to boil.

"You don't even know why you're protesting," he said. "You liberals are fucking stupid." Another car honked. "Fuck you!" he screamed again. I could feel the tension rising.

I jumped in. "Look, that's my wife you're talking to. She knows what she's here for. She doesn't need to explain it to you."

He stared at me. "You know what I think? I think she's only here because YOU'RE here." The dorky videographer laughed out loud - he was excited to catch such witty repartee on his camera.

Relax, I said to myself. They want you to react. Then they can get violent -- the clear purpose of their verbally abusive provocations. I thought back to the first Gulf (tm) War, when a "No Blood for Oil" bumper sticker got me run off the road several times, maced by a group of Bush Youth who followed me home in my car, and made my car a target for vandalism on four separate occasions. Aside from some asshole anarchists, I've never seen a group of liberal protesters threaten anyone or destroy property. I've never known Bush/Cheney signs to get trashed by rampaging Democrats, yet I keep hearing stories of entire neighborhoods having Kerry signs stolen or destroyed. There's a clear difference in tactics.

I don't mind people counter-protesting -- in fact, I think it's a good thing. When this particular group first approached us, though, I could tell they weren't out to express their support for Sinclair, or to put forth a counter-argument to our protest -- they were there to piss us off and intimidate us, pure and simple.

By this point, everyone had realized the threesome was hell-bent on causing trouble and just ignored them. But it didn't stop them. Rambo kept blabbing typical Free Republic talking points about Kerry turning the U.S. over to the U.N. and ketchup anecdotes. Texas Tee was more aggressive and kept trying to bait us with his angry taunts.

It was getting late. "Let's wrap this up, folks," I said. All of the protesters exchanged pleasantries, and we headed back to our cars.

"George Bush is gonna win this state, and then you'll see how stupid you are," Texas Tee said as I walked away. "Then you liberals will really be fucked."

"See you at the polls," I said.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, just stumbled onto your blog and I'm glad to know that there are like minded individuals in Baltimore!

My sincere thanks to you and your wife for protesting Sinclair, I was unable to make it out due to job constraints, but whole-heartedly wanted to be there.

Rock on!

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pan, I admire you and your fellow protestors' bravery and level-headedness in the face of the Sinclair rent-a-thugs (visions of Pinkerton head-busters). Unfortunately, this incident, like the grand spectacle by the paid protestors of Florida 2000 fame, is likely only a small taste of much grander performances by well-paid corporate buttboys in the coming weeks. Photographing and documenting these reptiles is a wise tactic. Seems there's a whole army of attorneys standing with us, fighting for Democracy's survival. S'pose lawyers wouldn't find much law to practice in the NWO. -Norm

p.s. Wonder, how brave these pigboys will be when Big Labor hits the street?

6:01 PM  

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