Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘2012’ Category

If I were the media, this is how I would have written the story. In fact, this is how I wrote the story for The Norman Queer Alliance’s Queer Zine. I submitted the copy today.

(Norman, Oklahoma) — On December 3rd, 2009 Sarah Palin rolled into the Hastings in Norman in her big blue bus to sign copies of her book “Going Rouge”. Complete with a DJ playing a variety of music from rock to country, the event had a rock concert type of atmosphere. With temperatures below freezing and a brisk north by northwest wind of 6 to 15 MPH, it was a an event for those committed to a viewpoint. Estimates of the crowd size vary wildly depending on who you talk to, but most peg the number of supporters present as being more than a thousand and possibly as many as two thousand.

David White, a Palin supporter from Stillwater, Okla. told NewsOK’s Damon Fontenot “…shes done so much for the party, rejuvenating the base, and its been one of the greatest things we have had since Regan”. Many of the other supporters interviewed in various media seemed to echo White’s sentiments. At one point, supporters unveiled a large tarp that had messages written on it that encouraged Palin to run for the presidency in 2012. It was signed by several people. Some supporters held signs saying “We Love Sarah Palin” with red lipstick kiss.

Sarah Palin was expected to speak at the event, and at one point there was a small platform erected for her to speak from, but upon arrival she shook a few hands and went inside without a word. NewsOK stated that the several protesters holding signs may be to blame for Palin’s decision to dispense with the speech. Most estimates as to the number of protesters put the number somewhere between several dozen and as high as seventy-five. The protest received coverage from a number of news outlets across the state including News 9, KOCO-TV, Tulsa World, The Oklahoma Daily, The Oklahoman, News OK, Gossip-Boy and an iReport on CNN. Also present were documentary film makers producing an upcoming documentary called The Reddest State about the status of politics in Oklahoma.

The Oklahoman reported “A group of about 12 protesters lined up on the west side of Hastings and held signs in the air…” in a December 4 piece entitled For Sarah Palin fans, a signing bonus”. In a memo on his Facebook account, protest organizer and Norman Queer Alliance member Keith Kimmel pointed out that there were far more than a dozen protesters shown in NewsOK’s own footage and accused the paper of “…continuing old traditions of marginalizing homosexuals.”. Kimmel stated that he and other attendees are drafting a letter to the Daily Oklahoman to call them on the inaccurate reporting.

Victor Gorin, reporter and ad sales rep for publisher StarNews, Ltd. which publishers the regional queer newspaper MetroStar News was interviewed by KOCO-TV’s Mark Opgrande. Gorin was quoted as saying “Well, the mood is pretty upbeat on both sides…” and added “…overall, I’m glad to see people being involved.” Gorin held a sign “Lesbians United Against Hate” with a picture of Palin. Catlin Frazier was interviewed by News OK and said “Well, its not nearly as cold as the inauguration, so I am happy to stand out here. And represent that even though I live in Oklahoma, and every county here went for McCain/Palin, that there is still liberals in this state, and our voices have been outshouted frequently and I’m here to represent those people.”

The protesters included everyone from a group of guys from Norman High School to college students to older folks. Signs held include “Don’t Palin My Norman”, “Gay is OK”, “Palin – Limbaugh’s Favorite Parrot”, “Shame on Sally KKKern”, “Go Home, Take Sally With You”, “Palin Hates Equality”, “Ignorance is Bliss” and “Gay Pride”. References to Sally Kern were made because the Oklahoma representative from House District 84 was among those in line to get a book signed by Palin. Kern, well known for her publicly made homophobic remarks, is almost universally disliked in the gay community and some media coverage suggested that the protest was as much about protesting Sally Kern as it was Sarah Palin.

The event resulted in no arrests or citations and except for a couple of incidents of name calling, it was a peaceful event that ended without incident. It is, however, likely that more than one attendee succumbed to frostbite.

Update: A version of this post appeared in the January, 2010 edition of Metro Star News as a story. I was credited as the author.

Read Full Post »

For those unaware, The Daily Oklahoman was named America’s Worst Daily Newspaper by the Columbia Journalism Review in 1999. I believe I recall hearing that they have won this distinction more than once. Read the article for a laundry list of reasons why this is the case. You’ll read the history of how the paper has fought to be led into the ground by its ownership and the manner in which the Gaylord family smears its name all over the front page regularly for non-newsworthy events like a child smears feces on a wall. In fact, the newspaper is often refereed to locally as The Daily Disappointment.

Well, I have one more reason to add to the pile of why The Daily Oklahoman sucks: they lie their asses off in news coverage. In recent coverage of Sarah Palin’s visit to Norman to sign her book, they said:

A group of about 12 protesters lined up on the west side of Hastings and held signs in the air saying “Winners never quit, quitters never win” and “Gay is OK.”

Now – as those who were there know – there were about seventy-five protesters at the Sarah Palin picket that I recently organized. Did I count them? No, I did not. It could have been sixty-five, or even fifty-five. But hell, you can count more than twelve faces and signs in the Oklahoman’s very own news video coverage which they published! It wasn’t about a dozen. Not even close. Hell, every other photo of this event I have seen shows far more than a dozen people present.

This has to be one of the best examples I can find of coverage that was purposefully skewed by this paper. I forgave KOCO-TV for their story, so why is it different with the Daily Oklahoman? Because TV news is made on the fly and once you run a story, you can’t update it and you can’t go back and redo it to present a better angle. But in the newspaper business, you have all night to get the story right until newsroom deadline anyway. And obviously, they weren’t at deadline when there were clearly more than a dozen folks there as evidenced by their other conflicting coverage. This story wasn’t published until the day after the protest.

I think this is just another example of how the Daily Bigot (as I call it) is continuing old traditions of marginalizing homosexuals. If none of the other media had mentioned that gays were picketing, they wouldn’t have either. But since every other outlet ran with the story, they had to say something. So they just minimized it to the greatest possible extent, by saying that only about a dozen homos came out. If you can’t ignore it, then minimize it. I and other event attendees will be writing a joint letter to the editors of The Daily Oklahoman calling them on their mistake in the near future.

But not to worry, folks. Today, The Daily Disappointment ran a story which began as follows: “New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas L. Friedman was awarded Monday the Gaylord Prize for Excellence in Journalism and Mass Communication.” Oh, boy. I’d really be worried if that was me. I think thats Mr. Friedman’s career dissipation light flashing.

P.S. – Special thanks to Victor Gorin for bringing this matter to my attention.

Read Full Post »

Some might be surprised to learn that the Sally Kern/Sarah Palin picket was the first major event that I have single-handedly organized without any real assistance. Sure, there were those who helped get the word out and print our signs, but as far as making the decisions, this time I did it all by myself.

To be sure, this event kept me awake several nights worrying. Would it rain? Would it be cold? Would it be too windy? Would it rain while being cold and windy? Would the police give us issues? Would a riot erupt? What would I do if a riot erupted? How can I make sure it remains peaceful? Will there be trouble-starters and if so how will they be dealt with? Have I done everything that I can to ensure participant safety? How can I generate positive, favorable media coverage for the event?

These are some of the questions that weigh on you when you organize an event. Keep in mind, this event was not anything elaborate, it was a picket with signs. Show up, hold signs. We didn’t have to feed anyone, put on a concert or anything else. All we had to do – for the most part – was show up. Not that making that a reality was any small undertaking as anyone who has been any part of anything in Oklahoma will tell you.

Like most intelligent people doing something for the first time, there is always that one big lesson that you take away from the whole thing. Something that you recall and say “Ya know, if I could do it all over again, I sure as hell would change [insert lesson here].” My lesson for this one was as follows: never, ever show up to your event numerous hours early and make yourself available for the press. I decided to show up at about 4:30 PM for an event scheduled to begin at 7 PM to catch any stragglers and early birds. Since the media was already there, I gave interviews and lots of them. Having nothing else to do, it seemed like a good idea.

A few hours later, I would learn the error of my ways. I gave an interview to KOCO-TV, the ABC affiliate in Oklahoma City. They ended up running a lengthy little piece on me, in which I was painted as the lone wolf holding a sign, despite the fact that 75 people or so came out. While I don’t mind being the only one to attend an event (if I put an event on, if no one else shows up, the show still goes on) when the interview closes with the anchor mentioning that its a one man show, it does tend to discredit the event in the eyes of the public.

Moreover KOCO’s reporters never came back to get footage of us massing as they said they would. Now, I am not claiming that KOCO tried to skew coverage, because they do have pictures of many protesters in the form of stills in a gallery on their website. I think they never got back to us with the camera because they only had one cameraman and anchor and a small support staff, I think they were too busy shooting images of Palin and such which arguably was the larger story at that time. But what ran on TV presents the illusion of one nutjob coming out and waving a sign.

So the lesson here is to not talk to the press until the event is in full swing. That way, the story they get and run with matches whats really going on in the field. This is an error in judgment that I wont be repeating.

P.S. – I actually admire the way KOCO covered this event. It was innovative. Thats to say, they went two levels back. They have an anchor and a camera man producing the video, then they have someone else taking stills of that going on. Its like having reporters reporting on reporters. For this event, they had a Live Blog on their website so folks could stay at home (where it was much warmer) and watch whats going on in real time. Unfortunately for me, they published a photo of me giving the interview described above (with a caption underneath reading “The image you see is Reporter Mark Opgrande and [Paul Harrop] interviewing Keith Kimmel. Keith is a protester who says he organized a group of folks on facebook who aren’t happy to have Sarah Palin in Norman.”) so I now have a permanent reminder of this lesson learned.

Read Full Post »

So on December 3rd, 2009 – at about 6:30 PM CST – it happened. She arrived, big blue tour bus and all. She would be Sarah Palin. Sally Kern also came, but for once, Sally was not the topic of the day and no one really seemed to notice or care that she was there. She had about 1,000 supporters there to welcome her, and about 75 of us. Us would be the protesters. Some of those present that I know of included Floyd Martin, Caitlin Frazier, John Cloud and Hunter Phillips. If I missed anyone and you are on facebook, friend me, then message me and I will tag you.

Many of the media interviewed us before the bulk of the protesters showed up. So be sure to take a look at photos taken by our folks which provide an in-depth look at the event and closeups of alot of signs.

There have been rumors (started by NewsOK) circulating that Palin planned to speak but canceled the speech because we decided to picket the event. So for those of you who claimed that our protest would be pointless, take this proof and shove it. Not sure if this is true or not, but if it is, its safe to say she heard our message. Here is the news coverage of the event. I will update this as I locate more coverage, if you know of something that’s not on here, please send me a message with a link. Newest coverage will be added to the top of the list.

Oklahoma Gazette: Sarah’s Circus – Mention of protesters towards the end. Print edition had two nice color photos of picketers.
Gossip-Boy: The Dumb One is in the Middle – Homepage Photo Gallery.
The Oklahoma Daily: Scores of Palin fans brave cold at event – OU Student Rachel Singley mentioned and quoted. The print edition had a picture of an unnamed protester next to the Palin photo. The story ran on the front page, above the fold.
CNN: Sara Palin in Norman Oklahoma – CNN iReport.
Tulsa World: Scores of Palin fans brave cold at event – Showed the AP photo of the picketers with a brief mention on page A18. Click Newspaper View to see how it looked on the printed page.
News 9: Photo Gallery – Several pictures of the protesters.
News 9: Palin Book Signing Draws Big Crowd – Interview with MetroStar’s Victor Gorin.
Associated Press: Photo – AP has a photo of our protesters.
News OK: NewsOK Video – Caitlin Frazier interviewed. Great pan shot of the protesters.
News OK: Photo Gallery – One early picture of us starting to mass.
Norman Transcript: Palin makes book tour stop in Norman – Paul Weider, a Norman High School senior mentioned and quoted.
News 9: Palin Welcomed by Hundreds of Fans in Norman – Brief mention of the picketers, coverage starts at about 1:40 in the video.
Channel 5: Protestor Talks About Palin Visit – Interview of me before the picketers got there (it was still light outside).

If you have photos, videos or whatever of the event, please send me links via message. You can e-mail photos to keithontap@gmail.com. Thanks to all of you who came our and made this event a success. While a number of folks would have rather you stayed home, you braved the absolutely frigid temperatures to come out and make a difference. I love you for it. I don’t care what anyone says, our gay community is beautiful and we should be proud of it. And we should show it off at every opportunity we have.

Read Full Post »

For those who aren’t aware, I have organized a picket of Sarah Palin’s book signing in Norman. As with any public event, you always have a few naysayers and those with uneducated viewpoints. But I am really tired of hearing from a certain class of them right now. I have mentioned them before in past notes, but clearly they aren’t getting the message. So allow me to debunk the falsehoods about Sarah Palin and my picket once and for all.

Palin Picket Myth #1: If We Don’t Show Up, Palin Will Get Less Attention

Dream on. If picketers don’t show up, she’ll get even more attention. Anyone who believes otherwise is an idiot, uneducated, burying their head in the sand, taking queues from Cimmaron Alliance Foundation or a combination of the above.

You see, the way the news media (which is coming regardless – I have talked to alot of editors and station managers region wide in the last few days, all of them have it on their agenda to cover either themselves or through their affiliate network) works is this: they allocate slots of airtime (or column inches in the printed world) to stories they know for a fact are going to be runnable. They also usually lead the newscast with them and fill in with other stories as they happen. A former vice-presidential candidate coming to the area is one of those types of stories.

So lets say the stations give her a three minutes or 180 second slot. This is probably the amount of time she will actually get. Most news stories are either 30 or 60 second slots. And the newspapers give her, oh, 30 column inches. Now, if no protesters come, the only thing to write about and talk about and show photos of is Palin. Keep in mind the story is going to be written or aired regardless. If you don’t honestly believe that, like I said… time to wake up. Now, lets assume some protesters come and make alot of noise and the newscasts spend 60 seconds talking to them and the papers five column inches writing about them.

Guess what? That’s space and airtime that would have carried a Palin-sponsored message, but now carries our message. Palin just lost attention. Her message got diluted. And since its common to write/talk first about the event and then about any picketers, we also get the last word on the topic. People have short attention spans and short memories, first and last impressions are most powerful and most recalled.

Palin Picket Myth #2: Sarah Palin Isn’t Really Going to Run in 2012

She may not. But most experts feel she is getting ready for a run based on the areas she is visiting. Most areas are in battleground swing states that make or break presidential elections.

Palin Picket Myth #3: Sarah Palin Can’t Win in 2012

This is just good, old fashioned stupidity showing its ass. This same kind of thinking gave us George HW Bush for a president and Sally Kern for a representative. At other times in history, it gave us Adolf Hitler and two world wars. After all, we all knew Hitler wouldn’t really kill all those Jews, right? He was just joking about it in Mein Kempf. Obviously, he did kill the Jews and those who underestimated him were clearly proven wrong.

The fact of the matter is many Republicans find Sarah Palin to be sexy and intelligent. Right or wrong, that’s what they think. Many have compared her to Rush Limbaugh. If Rush were to run, do you think he could win? Most conservatives consider him a hero. He wouldn’t even have to work for their votes. Could he turn a few disgruntled Democrats and promise a few favors to various faction leaders to secure enough votes to take the cake? Yeah, he would have a damn good shot of being successful if he tired. But he has refused to run in the past, despite pressure to do so. Palin hasn’t.

Sarah Palin is a dumb, hateful, stupid bitch. That much we all know and most of us agree on. But it doesn’t matter what we think. People we have felt exactly this way about before have run for office and won. But the party has shown its willing to support her. In fact, she became more popular than her running mate, a sign of a dangerous candidate who is poised to break out of the box and go on a tear. I am sure there were plenty of people who thought Hitler would never go anywhere as a politician too. Opps.

I don’t ignore potential problems, I look for ways to rid myself of them sooner rather than later. And allowing Palin to win the oval office and then dealing with her only then is about the dumbest idea I have ever heard in my life. This is a problem that should be nipped in the bud now.

Palin Picket Myth #4: If We Picket Sarah Palin Now, Barak Obama Cant Easily Get Re-Elected

I have been contacted by several members of the Democratic party who I won’t name (not yet, anyway) who have asked me to please call off the picket. Their line of thinking: if Palin decides not run, Obama might not get re-elected because the Republicans may run a more moderate, intelligent candidate who can spin more convincingly.

First off, Obama has been a worthless president and just as bad of a liar as Palin. So him not being re-elected may be a good thing. But even if we assume that Obama is worth being re-elected, why would we let a dangerous homophobe like her have a shot at getting the largest platform in the world from which to spew her hateful rhetoric? I have a better idea. Lets not let either one of them on the ballot.

Palin Picket Myth #5: The Republican Party is on the Decline, They Can’t Get Palin Elected

Yeah, right. Republicans still have many, many die hard supporters. Most of them are in rural America which controls a huge amount of electoral votes in key swing states. Republicans are still the favorite party of big business and its megacorps that have all the money, not the Democrats welfare moms, illegal immigrants and environmental groups. Need we be reminded that a nuclear bomb, even after having been deactivated and turned off for a time, is still a very dangerous item indeed. The same with the GOP. Despite the fact that they have some issues in their house, they can still raise money and they can still get candidates elected to office.

Palin Picket Myth #6: Everyone Sees Through Palin’s Lies, No One Will Elect Her

Gee, then how did she become the governor of Alaska? Somebody must have voted for her. And lets remember what a couple of hundred million dollars in spin and media buys can accomplish for a candidate. People like Carl Rove are pros at turning bullshit into golden soundbites. And the last time I checked, Rove was on the GOPs team. He damned good at what he does.

Palin Picket Myth #7: Even If Elected, She’s Too Stupid to Get Anything Done

That’s what alot of people thought about George HW Bush and look at all he managed to get done. He destroyed the economy, started two wars, toppled a foreign government, gave away billions to his banker buddies, exported millions of jobs and raised taxes. If that’s what a stupid person can accomplish, I’d hate to a smart one in action.

The bottom line is this: Sarah Palin is a growing threat to freedom now and later. If you sit on your ass and pretend like you are solving problems by ignoring her, then you are only making matters worse. Silence is consent. If you don’t like what you see going on around you and you say nothing to oppose it, you are deemed to have consented to the activities that took place in full view of you. So in other words, you are either part of the problem or part of the solution.

I’m tired of talking to people who are part of the problem. I don’t care what you have to say, nor do I care what you think. Go away. Leave me alone. Spread your negativity elsewhere. Sit on your ass and while I fight for the rights you don’t deserve, continue to try and discourage participation and turn folks against steps undertaken for real change.

Because together, you “lets pretend like she can’t win and doesn’t hurt anyone” idiots are undermining the cause for rights of all gay people, including me. And you know what? I take that pretty fucking personally. So don’t get upset when I call you on it.

Read Full Post »