Occupy Charlottesville (OC), a group that intentionally and needlessly defied curfew and permit laws in advocacy of “free speech” now has censored its own, and in doing so, has created an internal uproar.

Recent discussion threads on OC’s Facebook page (see below) show only limited tolerance for “offensive” free speech, especially when it involves criticism of President Obama or “name calling.” In this instance, not only was a member silenced for contrarian expression, but also all vestiges of her posts were eradicated from the digital discourse without notice or warning.

When challenged on the muzzling by a concerned Occupier, several of the group’s Facebook participants defended the censorship citing violation of OC’s “core values” and the poster’s promulgation of “personal attacks” on “active” group members.

Suppression of speech? From the same group that portrayed the First Amendment as the cornerstone of its existence?

A distaste for invective? From the same group whose members dubbed Dave Norris, the Mayor of Charlottesville, “Dave F*cking Norris,” both online and in public?

Violation of “core values”? From the same group whose members gleefully screamed at a female Charlottesville Police Officer: “I heard pigs has 30-minute orgasms; is that true?” and “Show me your t*ts, pig”?

Confronted with a relatively mild free speech paradox, Occupy Charlottesville has failed miserably. Primarily because this group was never truly about “free speech”— although, many members deluded themselves into believing theirs was a First Amendment fight. The “Seinfeld” of protest movements, Occupy Charlottesville was and is all about nothing—or perhaps, more accurately, all about doing nothing. Witness able-bodied Occupiers bemoaning lack of financial opportunity while simultaneously forgoing local employment solicitations in order to lounge in Lee Park for nearly two months.

Signs in the group’s former encampment warned Occupiers that if approached by the media, no one speaks for the group and that everyone speaks only for himself. Under this systemic non-accountability, no individual could be held responsible for an action or statement of any associate. Where order, doctrine, structure, and responsibility are absent, anarchy reigns. Such was, and is the case with Occupy Charlottesville—a movement born of and continuing in lawlessness.

Occupiers, enamored with Kristin Szakos’ pro-Occupy maxim that “Free Speech doesn’t end at 11:00,” have mired themselves in a self-created First Amendment quagmire by squelching rights the group claimed to champion. And in doing so, Occupy Charlottesville has exposed itself as a hypocritical and fraudulent crusade—like all Marxist movements before it—preoccupied not with precepts of freedom, but with the imposition of veiled autocracy and the suppression of free expression.

It’s 11 PM Occupy Charlottesville: do you know where your principles are?

Read Occupy Charlottesville’s Facebook “free speech” exchange:

Senna August Beall
last week, I posted something that got a response by a girl named Meganne. Some found it argumentative, called her a “troll”, and suggested she be “blocked” for simply stating her opinions about Occupy and why she thought we should concentrate on dismantling the Fed and impeaching Obama. Later, her comments disappeared and I said “I hope no one blocked her”. I got an email from her that she was indeed blocked from Occupy Charlottesville facebook page and could no longer see, post or comment. So much for free speech? Admin of this page, why block somebody who doesn’t agree?

 

26 COMMENTS

  1. After awhile, we run out of words for this type of /lack of mature behavior. This is a product of this new age way of doing business. You can open your mouth (in case write) as long as you are nice. If you speak evil of us, we will drop you. We will no longer be yuor loving, caring friends. Leave us for you have sinned. Occupiers, city counsel don’t really understand to play in deep end of pool takes more than just loose items, smoke and mirrors, it take substance and a true will to act… Not as Mr. Norris say on evening news we need to learn and play well with each other. It’s not occupiers fault…

  2. Hey there! Thanks for caring so much about the Occupy movement.

    I think that there is a question about whether name calling to get your point across is free speech. And I think that there is also a question about what may be considered appropriate behavior in various forums, here. What would happen if someone came on your, (or anyone's FB page,) and started name-calling? Just doesn't need to be tolerated, especially when that person has been asked to clean up that kind of abuse. One would hope that home training included respect, and sometimes it doesn't. I notice that the thread where our mayor is being criticized is not shown here – as there was page admin who asked that person, too, to stop doing that. And they did. They were not relentless like this Meganne.

    Paul – it's not about speaking evil of a movement, as you say. It is the very behavior that you speak of as being the new trend of nasty that violates the terms of how we have consensed to treat each other. That means that on that page, people are asked to do the same, and that is totally fair. If I don't smoke, please don't smoke in my house. Not mean! Just pretty standard boundaries of courtesy, which were being blasted repeatedly by a person who I now question as even being a real person. Ah, the internet, huh?

    I have talked to lots of folks about the questions and concerns that they have about the movement. Of course! And some folks who associate with Occupy are more outspoken in ways that not all of us can get behind – just as I had noted to you, Rob, that I can't possibly believe that all tea partiers are racist homophobes as characterized by some critics. That's super closed minded, huh? And real silly!

    Looking forward to the time when news is not all about being divisive – when we see that we, as Americans, are not the enemy to each other.

  3. It is really not about agreeing or disagreeing with what someone says but with how they say it. Freedom of speech does not cover “hate speech”. I am often one of the first people to call someone out on bad behavior (whether I agree with the philosophy behind their words or not). I am a mother of three and go with a simple rule of thumb: if my five year old knows that it is not okay to talk to someone like that, then so should an adult. Words can hurt. Words can scar. It’s not acceptable to treat anyone with disrespect. You don’t have to agree with someone to treat them with humanity and dignity. So people who are not able to control their urges to inflict pain on others are asked to stop posting their hate on the OCV facebook wall and take any issues they may have to GA. It seems rather reasonable to me.

  4. I don't recall the specifics anymore, but I do recall feeling like the discussion was not out of hand or worthy of censorship. The name calling in question was pretty mild, and more the product of a passionate discussion style than personal venom for other members.

    Our moderator made a mistake. It happens. She should be allowed to continue to make her case.

  5. Wow! Well this is my first time on the Schilling Show radar, so I’m glad I was speaking up for something I strongly believe in. This is a subject that should be important to all of us.Hate speech should not be tolerate and I don’t consider that free speech.

  6. You just don't get it Rob.

    Occupy can only take action by consensus of the General Assembly. Anything that wasn't done by consensus of the General Assembly is the action of an individual, not of the Occupation.

    This single incident with an oversensitive moderator who had no approval from the General Assembly for their action does not reflect a broad intent to suppress free speech, anymore than someone espousing a particular opinion in a forum post means that it is broadly accepted on that web site.

    As the thread itself shows, many people in the Occupation objected to her being censored.

    While I think highly of Shannon Harrington, and we see eye to eye on many things, her defense of this action is not something I agree with.

  7. Respectfully, Ed – I am not too sure it was a mistake, I actually saw lots of venom – telling an active member that if she didn't have it all figured out by the time she was in her 60's she should just give it up – calling that same woman a "nutter." I just can't get behind that. Just don't see the necessity. But I did stand aside. I can also block that kind of negativity from showing up in my personal news feed if I don't appreciate "her" delivery. Pretty simple. No sweat.

    I am genuinely grateful that there are others more tolerant of that style of interaction than I am so that if there are real questions brought to the table in this situation, there will be clear heads such as yours to navigate those questions.

  8. Not everyone agrees with the block to this speaker, but it occured anywat because people have some freedom of action. It weill be discussed at length in GA and dealth with. I find it refreshing that the entire process took place out in the open – which is why you could so easily pull it off the website. Transparency in government allows errors or disagreements to come to light early on and will create future conversations that will affect the way future monitoring is conducted. Democracy by the people isn’t always pretty and errors can be made, but, to paraphrase MLK, the arc of direct democracy points toward freedom and justice.

  9. “Occupiers, enamored with Kristin Szakos’ pro-Occupy maxim that “Free Speech doesn’t end at 11:00,” have mired themselves in a self-created First Amendment quagmire by squelching rights the group claimed to champion.”

    Like so much of what’s heard on the Schilling Show and promulgated as true conservatism, that is a really thoughtless argument. The First Amendment does not obligate private citizens to provide forums for speech they disagree with. A belief in the principle of free speech does not obligate the believer to provide a bullhorn for speech they disagree with.

    A “First Amendment quagmire” because you censor someone on your own website? That’s laughably ignorant rhetoric. Or is it just demagoguery?

  10. Ken says, “The First Amendment does not obligate private citizens to provide forums for speech,” does that extend to public parks to wreck and stentch up, free port-o-potties and electricity?

    So the Squat-u-piers will not provide, at no cost to themselves whatsoever, what they demand of others?? Could it really be that they’re phonies and hypocrites?! Oh yeah,that’s the point of the article.

    But what can we expect of people with no respect for the law or the people who live in that neighborhood? In short, Obama supporters.

  11. Congratulations, Harrison, that was exactly the sort of response I expected – completely off the point. Nothing I wrote should make any good reader think I support OC or justify their misbehavior.

  12. In my experience, ignoring the venom and responding to the issue with politeness and respect allows the person to feel heard, and gets them talking about the idea. If they don't respond and instead continue or amplify the abuse, then a "hey, that's not cool, why are you attacking me personally when you know nothing about me" is usually sufficient.

    Only after all that failed and they continue to be abusive would I support censorship — the person is not interested in dialog and no one should be expect to simply continue to take abuse.

    But I also appreciate that Occupy itself was under a lot of attack that day, and that probably heightened the impact of the abuse.

    Thanks for hearing me out and sharing your thoughts.

  13. It's revealing that the media holds the whole of Occupy Charlottesville responsible for the vandalism of the statue in Lee Park, an unsanctioned action by some lone jerk that has been roundly condemned by the movement, while in the same breath criticizing them for their attempts to weed out the jerks among them.

  14. None of occupier Bob Brigham’s posts on the OC Facebook site which contain the slur “teabagger” have been moderated. Apparently, THAT name calling is acceptable.

    I’m not thin-skinned and I really don’t care about it except to highlight the hypocrisy. I have had a couple of occupiers speak to me in a civil manner, but just as many others have said or written offensive things about the JATP. It has been suggested we may share some common concerns and some have advocated for a future dialogue, but use of the word “teabagger” – and floating the ludicrous red herring that perhaps the Tea Party was responsible for the vandalism of the Robert E. Lee statue – squashes any chance for a meeting.

  15. I never thought of teabagger as being a big deal, just like squat-u-pier remains here unchecked. Personally, I always thought that this kind of language shows more on the speaker as being narrow-minded. That's a boring way of communicating, in my opinion, but it's nothing to get too worked up about. What we were dealing with was repeated, unprovoked attacks on a very sweet and undeserving individual. Totally cruel flavor, from my perspective. Again, personal attacks. Not cool.

    Carol – I was one of the folks that had spoken with Rob about the idea of wondering about the concept of maybe (etc) there may be any meeting ground between the two groups here. After all, both groups share a lack of apathy which has invaded our citizenship, and both parties are pretty bummed about that apathy. It has happened elsewhere. I am probably one of the more conservative folks within the movement. I agree with much of the sentiment of the Tea Party, and have many friends involved with the Tea Party as well.

    I don't really really relate with the stance that you take in your post, but, I gotta respect it. Personally, though, I just kind of feel like – So what? Some folks called members of the JATP teabaggers, just like someone on this page has called Occupiers a silly name. I don't see what that really matters. It's not a personal attack, it's a sweeping and disrespectful generalization of a large group by (what I consider to be) unpleasant) individuals. It is not an official stance, or a personal attack of you or me or any specific person.

    And I also kind of feel like – So what if many blanketly accused OCV with vandalizing that statue, and then some said that it might have been a group vehemently opposed to the movement in order to frame up OCV? Who cares? It's all chatter compared to the big problems that we all share, and would like to see eliminated. And if one can't see through that chatter and swat it away in order to illuminate the larger picture, there is nothing anyone can do about it.

    Big props to the folks in RVA who have moved past derisive distractions, and into some attempt at respectful solution together.

  16. On October 3, 2011 there was a speech given at Hillsdale College by former Sen. Gramm.Toward end of his speech quote “In the end, government policy matters, the truth is, Americans are pretty ordinary people. what is unique aobut the American is an understanding of freedom and limited government that lets ordinary people achieve extraordinary things. We have been getting away from that view recently, but if we can get back to that understanding, our nation will be fine. As he goes on to say
    let me conclude by saying that the argument I am making is not just about money or GDP. It’s an argument about character. If you want to see the effect of bad governemnt policy on character, simply turn on the news and see how Greek civil servants have been behaving recently. they are victimizers behaving like victims. Greek government policies have made them what they are. but what made Americans who we are is a historically unprecedented level of responsibility. The real danger today is not merely a loss of prosperity, but a loss of the kind of character on which prosperity is based.
    In closing it is either you have character or not. The other question yes I am human, overweight balded, bushy eye brow male. I know who I am, my honor is for me to either made or break. It seem that some of Occupiers understand this but!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. In regards to “teabagger,” yes it’s disrespectful, but when has Rob ever shown Occupy Charlottesville or any other liberals any respect except when they’re in the studio with him? I’ve seen conservatives complain the term is pornographic, and I’m open to that argument, but I’m not convinced.

  18. Shannon I respect you very much, but I have to disagree on one thing: It is not okay to call individual people names, and it is not okay to call groups of individuals names. "Teabaggers" is a disgusting and hateful term and we are all to old to be slinging mud like children.

  19. Maybe it too late…… Maybe it too late…………..
    The mud has already been throw and I am as guilty as othe mud thrower.

  20. Right – okay! Cool. I just meant that there are people on both sides making ridiculous pseudonyms out of each others monikers. I guess I just ignore that because it says more about them than anything else. For me that's kind of a forest for the trees thing. People do it with sports teams, etc, everywhere you look. Mudslinging is dumb in any arena, and I was just speaking for myself. I tend to consider the source, and ignore it.

    So again, speaking for myself, I see much bigger issues. We are all too old to be slinging mud like children – but further I kind of feel like I am too old to let some dumb "occutard", "tea-bagger" or Obama reference derail me out of working toward solution. Guess that's why it's hard for me to sympathize. But I can empathize. I don't have to relate to accept that someone else may take it so seriously that it's a show-stopper. Totally understood.

    I cannot control namecallers, provocateurs, haters, people who find it simpler to generalize than truly engage… Can't do anything about that. And I know for sure that I would not generalize that one person across an entire movement, or else I would not have suggested that we may have some common ground. I have seen some tea party folks do some amazing stuff, and not in a good way. Still threw it out there.

    Personal accountability means that just that one person is accountable. If I had not been taught that, I would have definitely missed out on some cool experiences due to what some might call perfectly justifiable prejudice.

  21. Carole, in my personal opinion Bob Brigham is a disgrace not only to the Occupy movement, but to humanity itself. That being said, as an admin of the OCV facebook page I do try to catch things he says and remind him that this is not how adults behave. I am aware that civility often fails with him. I've never banned anyone from the OCV site, but Bob is the only person who has ever tempted me to do so.

    I would however like to apologize publicly to you. I don't know who vandalized the statue. I don't even know anyone who has hinted that they do know who perpetrated this act of cowardice. What I do know is that blaming groups without evidence, be they Occupy Charlottesville, Anarchists, or Tea Party, is a witch hunt and not a constructive use of anyone's time. Thick skin or not, I'm very sorry that these attacks have been made upon you and your associates. No one should receive abuse, and certainly not because they are hard at work trying to better the world:)

  22. As I have written in past and in future, it is time to move on. It is not my job to better the world. It is my job to try and help better my neighorhood, my city, my state and my country. It is not my job to tell anyone what to do, it is not my job to tell rest of world what to do and now to do it. We need to focus on who we are and stop blaming each other for our short coming. It is time to and put pressure on individuals that are elected to office to do their job within policy that are present. We don’t need more policies, we don’t need more mud throwing. We need to just focus and do our jobs. But than again I have lived too many different lives and seen too many human being die from A to Z. My argument is same no matter what — lack of character and honor………. Even in prison there is no honor, not even between them.

  23. Shining Crawford says “Bob Brigham is a disgrace…to humanity itself.”

    I’m sorry Shining, but namecalling is against our core values. Please be respectful of others here.

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