In the tradition of how Pride started, I interrupted his speech.
June 25, 2015 9:06 AM   Subscribe

Jennicet Gutiérrez writes for the Washington Blade on being removed from the White House last night after interrupting President Obama's speech during an LGBT Pride celebration. posted by roomthreeseventeen (161 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm so glad you posted this. It's a shame to see this reported as as "heckling" when it was a planned protest action by an established activist. I'm proud of Jennicet. It kills me to know that every night, around 75 trans women are locked up in detention centers, most likely with men, for the "crime" of trying to seek asylum.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:21 AM on June 25, 2015 [22 favorites]


She's in the country illegally? She's lucky she didn't get arrested and deported.
posted by merelyglib at 9:23 AM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's a shame to see this reported as as "heckling" when it was a planned protest action

Huh? It was a planned protest action that took the form of heckling. It's not wrong to say that she heckled the President simply because she was heckling him in the service of a cause.
posted by yoink at 9:24 AM on June 25, 2015 [69 favorites]


It is heartbreaking to see how raising these issues were received by the president and by those in attendance.

No. The issue is heartbreaking. The reception given for someone shouting out during a speech like this is not the least bit shocking. Doubly so when thrown at a president who has experienced heckling even at the State of the Union.

If this particular stunt got Gutierrez the attention desired -- here she is getting her voice heard on the Internet -- then gosh, good for her, I suppose, but acting like Obama did anything unreasonable or callous in that particular moment is ridiculous.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:25 AM on June 25, 2015 [111 favorites]


It is a pretty terrible situation. The US immigration system is broken. The US does little to try to help Mexico and countries to the south fix their domestic problems which cause all these people to flee to the US.

But I gotta agree - when you heckle Obama you throw yourself in with the Joe "YOU LIE" Wilsons of the world. Heckling Obama isn't throwing a shoe at Bush.
posted by GuyZero at 9:36 AM on June 25, 2015 [13 favorites]


FWIW This is the first time I've heard what the heckling was about, so maybe not the best tactic.
posted by Artw at 9:37 AM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]




In the tradition of how Pride started, I interrupted his speech.

I'm not really sure that's how Pride got started.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 9:47 AM on June 25, 2015 [21 favorites]


From that article linked by roomthreeseventeen:

And even before they wind up in custody, the ICE agency consistently discriminates against LGBT individuals during detention decisions. A Center for American Progress Freedom of Information Act report found that in 70 percent of cases, LGBT individuals were recommended release or provided release as an option. But because ICE officers have the final say, they choose to detain LGBT people more than two-thirds of the time in cases where the recommended guidelines were for release. The CAP report also found that ICE overrode recommendations for release in “7.6 percent of cases for the general population. The rate for LGBT detainees was more than twice this, at 19 percent.”

It's really the petty cruelty that is so despair-inducing. I mean, what do you lose by giving people their medicine or keeping the detention center adequately heated or cooled? Nothing except the thrill of exercising power to hurt people who can't hit back.
posted by Frowner at 9:47 AM on June 25, 2015 [15 favorites]


FWIW This is the first time I've heard what the heckling was about, so maybe not the best tactic.

I think this is exactly what Juliet Banana meant when she said that the reporting has been pretty negligent.
posted by easter queen at 9:47 AM on June 25, 2015 [16 favorites]


Obama is the first president who I like more than I approve of. It's irrational, but there it is. He disappointments me so often. I hate the way he's deported so many people, the prosecution of whistleblowers, the whole damn drone program... and I still personally like the guy. I don't know how that works, but I know it's where I am. Good on Jennicet for speaking up to a President, though. She risked far more than I would have. I just hope that her actions help the situation in some way.
posted by Ambient Echo at 9:48 AM on June 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


"I kind of expect that from Azerbaijan police.”
And if you expected differently, that was a victory for American P.R. and nothing else.

that the reporting has been pretty negligent.
Again, what do you expect from today's American News Media?

Some people just have totally unrealistic expectations of "America".
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:50 AM on June 25, 2015


I'm not really sure that's how Pride got started.

It's a great analogy, though. Pride got started when marginalized people refused to keep taking shit from the establishment.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:50 AM on June 25, 2015 [21 favorites]


I saw a post on Twitter from someone who was there:

Comments around me include "Shame on you!" "Get that guy out of here" and "Someone throw him on the floor." That's queer solidarity for you.

Yes, that is other GLB folks misgendering her in the process of helping shout her down.
posted by evilangela at 9:53 AM on June 25, 2015 [23 favorites]


heckling is interrupting somebody "with derisive or aggressive comments or abuse."

I don't think that's what this was.
posted by entropone at 9:54 AM on June 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


First: this is an incredibly important issue, and this event is bringing more attention to it, so that is good. I hope that the context now becoming evident inspires Obama to take steps when it comes to the horrible circumstances facing trans detainees. She was incredibly brave to take the risk she did.

Second: Blaming Obama for his reaction as if it was a condemnation of the protest subject seems unfair. If I hear sudden shouting at a "let's celebrate progress" pro-LGBT event, my first assumption is probably "homophobic interlopers", not "person bravely attempting to bring attention to an important issue." His exasperation in dealing with it is not a response to the issue, and should not be treated that way.

Still, though, incredible courage on the part of Gutiérrez. I hope she is given a wider platform as this story spreads, and I hope Obama takes action.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 9:55 AM on June 25, 2015 [23 favorites]


I hate the way he's deported so many people

This is one of those odd stories where the White House has become the victim on the left of spin it developed to try to soften up the right so that they'd get onboard with immigration reform. The simple facts are that the whole "deporter in chief" thing is a complete myth. Here's a good piece of reporting on the issue from the LA Times. The problem is, of course, that it's in no one's interests to correct this myth: immigration activists need to perpetuate the sense of crisis (and, of course, even allowing for this myth there remains a real crisis in terms of the indefinite detention of people in immigration limbo) and the conservatives like to sow disaffection between Obama and the left.
posted by yoink at 9:55 AM on June 25, 2015 [18 favorites]


heckling is interrupting somebody "with derisive or aggressive comments or abuse."

I don't think that's what this was.


Or we could go with Mirriam-Webster: "to interrupt (someone, such as a speaker or performer) by shouting annoying or rude comments or questions"--which is exactly what this was.
posted by yoink at 9:58 AM on June 25, 2015 [12 favorites]


Was there something inherently rude or annoying about her comments and questions, specifically? Because I don't think you can make that case.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:59 AM on June 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yoink, thanks so much - I had no idea that so much of it was an artifact of how we count. Gah! C'mon news orgs, be better!
posted by Ambient Echo at 9:59 AM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Was there something inherently rude or annoying about her comments and questions, specifically? Because I don't think you can make that case.

I think one could make the case that an interruption is rude or annoying, but I think the standard for heckling isn't just an interruption, it's an interruption for a perticular type of comment. And I don't think entreaties for certain policies counts when compared to the general standard for heckling, which is "Hey [person], you suck."

But it's probably not that important to argue about, and opinions will vary, and even though I helped start it, I'd encourage this thread to not converse too deeply about whether or not it was heckling - so as to stick to the more important subject matter, the treatment of trans people.
posted by entropone at 10:03 AM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Jennicet has a great and important cause. And a lousy way of pursuing it. I'd be very surprised if the President weren't willing to listen and take action on this . . . assuming of course an approach that didn't involve yelling at him while he was speaking.
posted by bearwife at 10:03 AM on June 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


Was there something inherently rude or annoying about her comments and questions

Yes. It is both rude and annoying to shout comments of any kind (other than "look out, there's an angry honey badger behind you!" or some such helpful warning) over another person while they're delivering a speech. That is pretty self-evident.
posted by yoink at 10:05 AM on June 25, 2015 [13 favorites]


C'mon news orgs, be better!

Well, to be fair, it's not as if the LA Times is some minor-league, alternative weekly. It's just that it was a story that seemed to be in nobody's interests to pick up on.
posted by yoink at 10:07 AM on June 25, 2015


And I don't think entreaties for certain policies counts when compared to the general standard for heckling, which is "Hey [person], you suck.

Well, here it's basically shouting "Hey [person], your policies suck" which seems close enough.
posted by bjrubble at 10:10 AM on June 25, 2015


hecklers gonna heckle
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 10:13 AM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]




Is it really necessary to repurpose prisons as detention centers? As far as I know, asylum seekers aren't committing a crime, not even trying to illegally live here: they admit to fleeing their home country and ask to be allowed to stay here for their own safety. A dorm-like setup would be more appropriate for temporary housing. (It would still need walls and guards, otherwise claiming asylum status and escaping from the housing center would become a popular way to get in illegally. But there's no need for tiny concrete cells and solitary confinement, conditions intended as punishment.)
posted by Rangi at 10:16 AM on June 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


Was there something inherently rude or annoying about her comments and questions, specifically?

That she shouted them out in the middle of a speech, maybe.

I don't think, given the context, we can really castigate the crowd for failing to digest and appreciate the full nuance of her argument, or Obama for failing to shut up and cede the stage.

This just seems like everything going to plan. Surely the objective was making enough of a stir to gain media access after the fact, not changing policy right then and there in the room.
posted by anazgnos at 10:21 AM on June 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


POTUS was on Marc Maron (podcast posted Monday). I think Jennicet should have a listen. (Btw, "Jennicet" is such a pretty name. Really lovely.)

But I'm pretty sensitive to folks interrupting and heckling Pres. Obama. He responds and it makes the heckler lose credibility and look foolish, and put the cause at stake because all I feel is bad for him.

posted by discopolo at 10:23 AM on June 25, 2015


> The reception given for someone shouting out during a speech like this is not the least bit shocking

Shocking != heartbreaking. This can be heartbreaking and yet not shocking.

Maybe it's because I spent last weekend at a series of events remembering/discussing/memorializing the actions of ACT UP San Francisco when it shut down much of the city during the 6th International AIDS conference. Thinking and remembering and talking with people about direct action - die-ins, blocking streets, chaining selves to doors, generally interrupting the otherwise orderly flow of life in order to bring attention to life-threatening issues.

Throw your bodies on the gears.
posted by rtha at 10:26 AM on June 25, 2015 [24 favorites]


One LGBT asylum seeker commented that he had “the most traumatic experience” inside an immigrant detention center. “I came here to beg you for my safety,” Khayal said after he fled a former Soviet Union country that criminalizes being LGBT. “When you put me in jail and keep me when I didn’t do anything, when I didn’t commit any crime, when you put me in jail and keep me in a freezing room like a refrigerator. You don’t expect that from this. I kind of expect that from Azerbaijan police.”

If the detention center is as bad as DC jail, I don't blame him for his disappointment.
posted by discopolo at 10:32 AM on June 25, 2015


> Op-ed: You Can't Cheer for Laverne and Boo Jennicet:
Her voice and visibility in that moment was shunned and shamed as inappropriate by a roomful of leaders who then applauded as the President lamented violence against transgender women of color, violence that his actions have contributed to by not taking action against the detention centers. Her voice is one of few transgender women of color immigrants who are bringing national visibility to this issue of the detention centers. Her voice carried the weight of the communities who are screaming inside detention centers demanding to be freed. Her voice was heard and ridiculed by many who claim to fight for transgender communities and also are involved in LGBT immigrant rights issues.
posted by rtha at 10:33 AM on June 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


Shocking != heartbreaking. This can be heartbreaking and yet not shocking.

It's only heartbreaking if she honestly thought Obama would stop everything, walk down from the podium and engage in a one-on-one conversation because someone was shouting at him in the middle of a speech in front of a huge crowd.

Again, if she got people talking, then she succeeded. Here we are on the Internet talking about this when we otherwise might not have because she did this, so in that respect, her mission was accomplished.

The issue at hand of how trans immigrants are mistreated is awful. No argument. But Gutierrez succeeded in her quest for attention for this issue and failed in completely derailing a scheduled event (which, yes, was important in its own right), and I can't see any "heartbreak" in either of those outcomes.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:34 AM on June 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


I am trying to wrap my head around this issue. In reading the articles, i found two rather chilling passages:

Perez believes her detention was a direct result of a policy known as the “detention-bed mandate.” But she can’t prove it.

The mandate, passed by Congress in 2009, requires ICE to detain at least 34,000 people who are undocumented or seeking asylum each night. Supporters of the mandate say it compels ICE to enforce immigration laws and argue it is not a quota. But immigrant rights advocates say it unnecessarily forces ICE to lock up immigrants who are not required to be detained by law. The largest contractor of ICE facilities, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), spent nearly 18 million dollars on all of its lobbying efforts in Congress between 1999 and 2009, according to data analyzed by advocate group Detention Watch Network. Since the law’s passage, the company’s share price has nearly tripled.
--from the Fusion article


and

A Center for American Progress Freedom of Information Act report found that in 70 percent of cases, LGBT individuals were recommended release or provided release as an option. But because ICE officers have the final say, they choose to detain LGBT people more than two-thirds of the time in cases where the recommended guidelines were for release. The CAP report also found that ICE overrode recommendations for release in “7.6 percent of cases for the general population. The rate for LGBT detainees was more than twice this, at 19 percent.”
-- from the think progress article

it's pretty easy to draw the line between them.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:39 AM on June 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


She writes, "Transgender immigrants make up one out of every 500 people in detention, but we account for one out of five confirmed sexual abuse cases in ICE custody. The violence my trans sisters face in detention centers is one of torture and abuse. The torture and abuse come from ICE officials and other detainees in these detention centers."
posted by entropone at 10:39 AM on June 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


Op-ed: You Can't Cheer for Laverne and Boo Jennicet:

Who did Laverne heckle?
posted by yoink at 10:40 AM on June 25, 2015


heckling is interrupting somebody "with derisive or aggressive comments or abuse."

Performing comedians have a good definition for heckling, which is defined by an audience member, often drunk, interrupting the performer to make the show about him or herself, instead of about the performance act. Except for the drunk part, that definition seems to apply here. Interrupting Obama may be for a good cause, but that doesn't mean it isn't heckling.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 10:44 AM on June 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


> It's only heartbreaking if she honestly thought Obama would stop everything, walk down from the podium and engage in a one-on-one conversation because someone was shouting at him in the middle of a speech in front of a huge crowd.

I guess it depends on your perspective. From mine, it's pretty heartbreaking that Obama was up there talking about LGBT people and our contributions to American society or whatever when his administration's policies are directly responsible for the terrible treatment of trans women and queer people in immigration detention.


> Who did Laverne heckle?

> Interrupting Obama may be for a good cause, but that doesn't mean it isn't heckling.

The politics of respectability are particularly malodorous to me these days. But yeah, let's go ahead and argue about the precise definition of "heckling."
posted by rtha at 10:47 AM on June 25, 2015 [26 favorites]


OMFG. Why are people so obsessed over "she heckled, therefore her points are invalid"? Sometimes when all is lost the best thing you can do is "heckle". Also echoing rtha's comments about respectability politics all up in this thread.

immigration activists need to perpetuate the sense of crisis

Yeah no. They don't need to perpetuate this sense of crisis artificially to somehow bolster their side, the crisis is ongoing and real.
posted by divabat at 10:49 AM on June 25, 2015 [19 favorites]


This seems like fairly standard civil disobedience. Not a particularly successful form, but certainly more than heckling as the term us usually used, insofar as its purpose was to bring attention to a cause and not just to annoy or harass the speaker. It was politically related to the event and is fairly similar to all those who interrupted Bush to protest torture during his many post-9/11 speeches. The interrupter was intending much more than a "you suck", however poorly they may have succeeded. And the "it's my house" riposte seemed a bit misplaced, since (a) it's not his house, it's our house -- a government property being used for a government function; and (b) the "it's my property, like it or get out" is a bit of a Republicany attitude for the pro-immigration party responding to a pro-immigration protest (though he probably had no idea what was being said).

That said, on the spectrum of civil disobediences, this is probably up there with maverick puppetry for effectiveness. But it's much more than "heckling" connotes, at least for most hearers of the word who get nothing on the news besides "Obama verbally destroys a heckler."
posted by chortly at 10:50 AM on June 25, 2015


[Folks, maybe we can set aside the "was this properly called heckling?" issue? Seems like people have their perspectives on that, and continuing to go around in circles on that very narrow question isn't the most interesting conversation we could have?]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:55 AM on June 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


Important issue, and I would also add that "no one is illegal."

However heckling, hectoring, shouting down etc seems like a fairly rude and childish form of civil disobedience.
posted by Nevin at 11:10 AM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Who did Laverne heckle?

I always see people pointing to Laverne Cox as an example of reasonableness and respectability, as if to imply to activists that this is the "correct" way that they should be conducting their activism. And it is true that Laverne Cox is tremendously skilled at PR, and an extremely talented activist. She never expresses anger beyond a very measured, calculated dose; she calmly explains in accessible way, without using specialized vocabulary. But her style of activism is just one of many, and has its disadvantages as much as its advantages. While calm, reasoned, 101 discourse is aimed to educate the public, expression of anger are needed to show those who are actively experiencing oppression that they matter. To express that one's own experiences of oppression matter, rather than being an abstract topic that one can muse idly at from a distance. Just because you perceive, as part of the public, one avenue of activism that has deliberately been filtered to cater to you to be effective for you, does not mean it is the most effective approach. To argue that it is, when this type of activism often comes at the emotional cost of the community and self of the activist - this, is what we call privilege.

And it's not as if Jennicet Gutiérrez and Laverne Cox are not interconnected. Jennicet has started a wider conversation that a calm, reasoned article circulated only in progressive spheres can never start. When Laverne later goes on to write this article, she has Jennicet to thank for bringing it to national attention. They work together.

Moreover, I would argue that Laverne's activism is as much informed by her personal experiences of transmisogyny and racism as Jennicet's activism is. Which isn't to say that both haven't finely honed their activism, but they come from different reactions to oppression. I say this to argue against conceptions of Laverne's style as deliberate and Jennicet's style as haphazard and childish. I read Laverne's pieces, and I see her struggle to write every word so that it is airtight from criticism, free from any perception that her anger might be uncontrolled - lest she get characterized as the "angry black woman" - or even, as you saw was thrown at Jennicet, misgendered as an "angry black man." Yet, this is not the only reaction one can have against transmisogyny and racism.

Part of the reason why I respect Laverne so much is because I know she recognizes all of this. She may have her own deliberate style, but she has never once policed the reactions and styles of others. She has always acknowledged the work of others at different levels, and the ways that they all interconnect and build upon each other. So yes: for the people who characterize Laverne as reasonable in contrast to Jennicet who is not, shame on you. Shame on you, for taking the very important work of a woman and using it as a weapon to attack precisely the people she is trying to protect and support.
posted by Conspire at 11:26 AM on June 25, 2015 [32 favorites]


It is heartbreaking to see how raising these issues were received by the president and by those in attendance.

Except that we are animals and shouting turns the crowd against you. Its what's messed up with today's protest culture. Its about personal expression not getting the job done. Take the '60's, the Civil Rights Movement. Those people knew how to do it right. They used Gahndian tactics. First, they built themselves up by two main things, how they acted and how they dressed. They always acted very politely and let the negativity be concentrated in those opposing them. Hours and hours were spent on training to make sure that they did not lose their cool, ever. Second, they dressed in their Sunday best. Watching police beat up folks in a suit and a tie or a nice dress really heightens the contradictions.

Its hard for humans to do this. We are hard wired for fight or flight. That's what made the Civil Rights protesters so effective. They exposed their humanity by not resisting angrily. When someone starts yelling about a situation in a room of people there for something else, we usually think, "Jesus, I would be very bothered if someone started to do that in a room of people." When we see protesters like Dr. King, we say "Man, those people just wanted to walk peacefully over that bridge. I think people should be able to walk peacefully over a bridge."

Too much of everything we do is based on identity politics, a subset of advertising's insistence that we have a tribe we are supposed to belong to, be it neo-confederate or person who advances social justice. The focus is on building up the identity of the participant, not on obtaining the right to eat at the same counter as whites, or not to sit in the back of the bus.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:28 AM on June 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


There is a huge element of "not the right method/tone" at play here, which is employed as a way to shut down conversation so often that I'm not very comfortable with it. I'm also keenly aware that those of us - myself included - who may want to label this as bad-mannered or uncivil as a gut reaction are in positions of privilege and safety that Gutiérrez does not possess. The issues she wants to address are far more pressing to her than the need to play nice. And thinking it over more deeply, it's really hard for me to find fault with that.

Looking at this event from a more detached perspective about decorum and whatnot, yeah - it's an impolite thing to do when the President is speaking. But there's nuance here and I don't think being detached about this situation is maybe the best way to approach this.
posted by erratic meatsack at 11:39 AM on June 25, 2015 [12 favorites]


That's a good point. But the fact of the matter is that her tactics in this case did not work at all. Quixotic.
posted by Nevin at 11:42 AM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Take the '60's, the Civil Rights Movement. Those people knew how to do it right. They used Gahndian tactics. First, they built themselves up by two main things, how they acted and how they dressed. They always acted very politely and let the negativity be concentrated in those opposing them. Hours and hours were spent on training to make sure that they did not lose their cool, ever.

lol

The Civil Rights Movement people were definitely not considered polite simply because they were speaking up for something people did not want to give them.
posted by divabat at 11:43 AM on June 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


Nevin: It's too early to say that it didn't work - it's only been a day, not even maybe.
posted by divabat at 11:44 AM on June 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


That's a good point. But the fact of the matter is that her tactics in this case did not work at all. Quixotic.

If she had not stood up, news outlets this morning would be backpatting Obama's speech as an unanimous gesture of support and victory for LGBT rights, despite the clear issues in his administration. The fact that, the Washington Blade has given Gutiérrez her own article, and even the New York Times has dedicated a section of their coverage to establishing the ethos of Gutiérrez as a trans advocate before including quotes from her on exactly what was the issue. If anything, the dissonance between "the president says all is well", and "here is a well-established trans activist saying that is not the case" should convince at least some people to consider the picture of LGBT rights that they are being presented with. She refused to stand idle as the media outlets glossed over the issues, and took control over part of the national conversation. I would call that a success.
posted by Conspire at 11:51 AM on June 25, 2015 [27 favorites]


I don't remember Representative Joe "You lie!" Wilson getting thrown out with a heave-ho by Capitol security. Just sayin'.
posted by jonp72 at 11:54 AM on June 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


> Except that we are animals and shouting turns the crowd against you.

ACT UP. FIGHT BACK.

People now lionize the queers battered by cops at Stonewall, and the drag queens who fought against police harassment in San Francisco in 1966 in what's now called the Compton's Cafeteria riots. They were not polite. They shouted and threw bricks. During the White Night Riots in 1979, righteously angry homos set cop cars on fire. In 1991, the AB 101 veto riots.

But from some, it's always sit down be nice be quiet shut up be polite. They won't like you if you're not polite. You won't get any rights if you're not nice. Bend your neck. Tug your forelock. Bow and beg and turn your belly up.

Fuck that.
posted by rtha at 11:55 AM on June 25, 2015 [40 favorites]


I just think this is a fundamentally unfair thing to say:

There is a huge element of "not the right method/tone" at play here, which is employed as a way to shut down conversation

I think there should be opportunities for like-minded people - allies - to respectfully disagree, that's all. And I disagree here with her tactics. But it's not the end of the world for President Obama or anyone else there.

The fact of the matter was that in the audio you couldn't hear what she was saying.
posted by Nevin at 11:56 AM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]




Yep. A part of her goal is to increase awareness of how skewed those detention center statistics are, and I'd say she succeeded there. I'm sure I'm not the only one whose knowledge on the subject was dim at best.

It leaves a bad taste in my mouth when people are being told to play nice in order to make themselves heard and be taken seriously. Especially not when they are at a huge disadvantage in this world and fighting for a literal freedom. Gutiérrez had to have known that interrupting the President includes a great chance she'd get escorted out, and I have to respect her for being brave enough to raise her voice anyway.
posted by erratic meatsack at 11:56 AM on June 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


Nevin: Please quote me fully - "There is a huge element of "not the right method/tone" at play here, which is employed as a way to shut down conversation so often that I'm not very comfortable with it."
posted by erratic meatsack at 11:57 AM on June 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


(at about 8:30 in that YouTube video of the Ashes Action is President Bush talking about activists setting back the cause)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:58 AM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't remember Representative Joe "You lie!" Wilson getting thrown out with a heave-ho by Capitol security. Just sayin'.

Honestly I fucking wish he had been, but compared to what goes on in various world-wide parliaments it was a pretty tame interruption.
posted by GuyZero at 12:00 PM on June 25, 2015


I'm pretty sure Jennicet's actions worked just about as well as she thought they would. To believe otherwise is to ascribe to her some pretty magical thinking. Now, that doesn't mean we can't be sad that the President didn't think of a more graceful way to acknowledge someone raising a crucial point at a crucial moment.
posted by allthinky at 12:00 PM on June 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


the President didn't think of a more graceful way

There wasn't a more graceful way of talking to an undocumented transgender woman about unjust incarceration than implying that if she had appetizers and drinks on him that it was inappropriate for her to speak up? Gosh. ;)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:03 PM on June 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


I don't remember Representative Joe "You lie!" Wilson getting thrown out with a heave-ho by Capitol security.

But then Obama was on Wilson's home turf in that instance, not vice-versa.
posted by Shmuel510 at 12:04 PM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't remember Representative Joe "You lie!" Wilson getting thrown out with a heave-ho by Capitol security. Just sayin'.

Representative Wilson was a dickbag, but he wasn't a trespassing dickbag. To use the President's phrase, Wilson was in his own house at the time.
posted by Etrigan at 12:05 PM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I bet Obama didn't even hear what she was saying. Regardless, he was busy, and its not a good precedent to set that the President will address any shouted concerns at any time while he's talking about something unrelated. Good issue spotlight, but I really hope this kind of thing doesn't happen again.
posted by agregoli at 12:08 PM on June 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


I don't remember Representative Joe "You lie!" Wilson getting thrown out with a heave-ho by Capitol security.

I also don't remember most people thinking too highly of Wilson's actions at the time, either, or since. His life's career will likely start and end with that ugly stain on it.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 12:11 PM on June 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


Hasn't the precedent already been set though? The very end of the NYT article mentions Obama being a bit more receptive to things like this previously. This isn't to say that everyone should now have that expectation every time, but it wasn't a way-out-there idea.
posted by erratic meatsack at 12:12 PM on June 25, 2015


How does this compare/contrast to that woman (I only vaguely remember) who interrupted Michelle Obama and completely derailed what she was talking about?

Why does it seem like it's only this current president (and first lady) are the only ones who ever get heckled/interrupted during speeches? Did this ever happen to Bush, Clinton...?
posted by jpolorolu at 12:14 PM on June 25, 2015


Did this ever happen to Bush, Clinton...?

Not sure how you could forget the most famous heckling in history.

Why I threw the shoe by Muntazer al-Zaidi
posted by GuyZero at 12:17 PM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well, there was that one guy with a shoe...

And Hillary and various other folk who supported the Iraq War have been being stalked and heckled by Code Pink for years.
posted by Ambient Echo at 12:18 PM on June 25, 2015


This was one protest action, as part of a larger, organized movement. It was successful in bringing attention to Jennicet's cause. It is, by no means, the only or defining action of the activist community that works against deportation and towards immigration reform.

Here are just some of the protest actions that Not One More Deportation has stood in solidarity with or helped organize. Again, this is just a sample.

200 Immigrant Detainees Launch Hunger Strike

Not One More Deportation Protesters Demonstrate Outside Tacoma Detention Center, attempting to block detention vans from leaving for the border.

Hundreds of Immigrants Launch Hunger Strike. Not One More organized daily solidarity actions outside the detention center.
Hunger strikers at the facility were inspired to fast after witnessing protesters outside the gates of the detention center block deportation vans from exiting, Villalpando said.
Families Facing Deportation Begin White House Hunger Strike

Undocumented Youth Arrested During Sit-in at Rep. Loretta Sanchez's Office

LTBGQ Groups Rally at White House

Undocumented Leaders present their case at a DHS Blue Ribbon Commission

100+ Cities Hold Events to Protest Deportations on April 5th Day of Action for #2Million2Many

Trans and queer immigrant activists formed a triangular human chain linked to a metal cage blocking the entrance of the Santa Ana Police Department to call on the city of Santa Ana to terminate its contract with ICE

12 immigrant rights advocates arrested in front of Obama fundraiser in Chicago

Whether you like it or not, Not One More is a part of the present day civil rights movement. I have a strong suspicion that no one cares whether you think their actions are civilized or humanizing enough as people they care about are ripped apart from their families, deported to countries where they have nothing, raped, abused, placed in solitary confinement, separated from their children, and detained indefinitely despite not committing any crime.
posted by Juliet Banana at 12:18 PM on June 25, 2015 [41 favorites]


Ha, beat me, GuyZero
posted by Ambient Echo at 12:18 PM on June 25, 2015


It's a pretty bad idea. I feel like a get off my lawn fuddy duddy, but I miss the "respect the President" sense that seemed to be one of our scared cows. Obama has gotten more of this kind of thing than any President I can think of, except for garbage thrown at George W's car. I don't think its outrageous to expect people to not shout things at the President during a press conference unrelated to your comment. I am sympathetic to her cause, its just...ack, I'm inelegant here but sheesh, people. Sheesh.
posted by agregoli at 12:21 PM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


And now I look even more shithead-y after Juliet's comment. Dunno. Nevermind, I guess.
posted by agregoli at 12:23 PM on June 25, 2015


Obama has gotten more of this kind of thing than any President

Maybe you're talking about heckling, specifically, but he is by no means the President who has gotten the most civil disobedience directed at his administration.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:23 PM on June 25, 2015


Did this ever happen to Bush, Clinton...?

And I googled "bill clinton heckled" and the biggest problem getting stories from his presidency is that he's still regularly getting heckled during stump speeches and paid gigs.
posted by GuyZero at 12:24 PM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was talking about heckling.
posted by agregoli at 12:24 PM on June 25, 2015


I do know that the GW Bush administrations had a reputation for screening audiences quite tightly. They checked for what signs and t shirts people had on, and made sure to try and vet their audiences.
posted by Ambient Echo at 12:36 PM on June 25, 2015


That's true, forgot about that aspect.
posted by agregoli at 12:38 PM on June 25, 2015


I've gotta agree with rtha.

You don't effect change by being polite. You have to make noise. You have to make people uncomfortable. People don't like to change, most especially career politicians who (left or right) are far more interested in maintaining the status-quo than anything else.

We (and by "we," I mostly mean white people) need to stop mythologizing MLK (and Ghandi) as being these perfect saints to brought great change through grace. They protested by flaunting the law, they were in people's faces. What African Americans were doing in the south in the civil rights era wasn't "illuminating," it was aggressive and threatening. Violent even to white southern society.

So I applaud Jennicet. And I frown on the media washing away the context of her actions.

I also can't really fault Obama for reacting the way he did. I would be surprised if he had any inkling of what she was talking about.

But I do fault the other people in the crowd. Witness silently if you want, but don't just lock yourself in with the ordered elite because you got invited to a fancy party.
posted by ghostiger at 1:24 PM on June 25, 2015 [16 favorites]


Take the '60's, the Civil Rights Movement. Those people knew how to do it right. They used Gahndian tactics. First, they built themselves up by two main things, how they acted and how they dressed. They always acted very politely and let the negativity be concentrated in those opposing them. Hours and hours were spent on training to make sure that they did not lose their cool, ever. Second, they dressed in their Sunday best. Watching police beat up folks in a suit and a tie or a nice dress really heightens the contradictions.

Its hard for humans to do this. We are hard wired for fight or flight. That's what made the Civil Rights protesters so effective. They exposed their humanity by not resisting angrily.


This is an actual whitewashing of the civil rights movement. Do a search for pictures of, say, marchers in Selma, and you'll see a lot of people in jeans. During parts of the March to Selma, MLK wore a simple short-sleeved shirt like most of the working-class people marching with him. Also, let's not forget that what a lot of whites thought of his approach. Notice how his caricature is wearing a suit and tie? You'd be crazy to think that that's a nod towards "Gandhian tactics," or that it humanizes him. And as divabat points out above, "Letters From Birmingham Jail" does a pretty good job at destroying the myths being pandered about that he was all about playing it cool and slow.

People can whine all they want about "identity politics," but it's always been respectability politics complaints that do far more to hinder civil rights movements.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:30 PM on June 25, 2015 [11 favorites]


Suffragists heckled Woodrow Wilson. I've read they stopped because it was ineffective and they got too much bad press.
posted by interplanetjanet at 2:06 PM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's incredibly sad to me that pretty much 90% of this thread has devolved in to "what is heckling" "is heckling ok?" "is obama harassed too much" rather than, you know, anything related to why she actually did this.

I don't have any super insightful redirect to add, i was just really saddened by that. Sort of a slow building wave of anguish, now that i've made it to the bottom.
posted by emptythought at 2:47 PM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


There is a huge element of "not the right method/tone" at play here, which is employed as a way to shut down conversation so often that I'm not very comfortable with it.

But sometimes the method you use backfires on you and makes it so that you end up making the situation worse and setting the whole thing back by a long way.

We live in a democracy. That means that there is a premium on convincing others to support you. And when one person yells and screams when another has the podium, it activates anger, not sympathy. I really personally dislike it when I'm interrupted. 99% of people hate it. So yelling and screaming when someone else has the floor has the opposite effect.

And anyone who thinks that Martin Luther King, Jr. got up and started interrupting people who were talking is simply incorrect. He said a lot of things that people did not want to hear, but he always did it in a way that was respectful to others, even when they were not respectful to them. In fact, that was the total point. So on the Edmund Pettis Bridge, they walked and sung hymns. They were savagely beaten for it. They never, ever confronted their oppressors--because confronting them engaged the defensive energies of the people they were trying to convince, making convincing them impossible.

Its one thing to say, gee, this is not the time for this (often a form of concern trolling) and another entirely to say--hey, are we really moving forward by offensively yelling at the person who has the floor? One is channeling anger, an emotion that tends to drive people away from the point you are making. King channeled the opposite of anger. He preached and acted by not being angry in the face of attacks.

To me, this is quite simple. A protester is most effective when they are the recipient of the anger, not the person dealing it out. A protester is most effective when they do not launch personal attacks, but instead place themselves in a position where they are attacked just for being who they are at the time and place where they are at that moment.

Here's Dr. King discussing dignity, control and discipline in non-violent protest. What happened yesterday was not dignity, nor control, nor discipline.

To quote Dr. King himself, from the Letter from a Birmingham Jail: "Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension." A person angrily interrupting a person who is speaking in the way we saw yesterday is most definitely creating the tension. Despite no blows being thrown, that was not non-violence.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:55 PM on June 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's incredibly sad to me that pretty much 90% of this thread has devolved in to "what is heckling" "is heckling ok?" "is obama harassed too much" rather than, you know, anything related to why she actually did this.

That should be instructive as to why her method was not a smart way to go about it. It is a very natural human reaction to a person interrupting someone who is speaking. Its exactly why this way is the wrong way to go about it, because people will start asking those very questions.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:58 PM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh my god we are through the looking glass, we've graduated to "but but, MLK! shame on you!" levels of you're-doing-it-wrong.

I mean, i'm trying my hardest not to come off as a shit here, but that entire thing is used as a cudgel by concern trollers/respectability politics types very often as well. I've heard it offline and online a few too many times.

That should be instructive as to why her method was not a smart way to go about it. It is a very natural human reaction to a person interrupting someone who is speaking. Its exactly why this way is the wrong way to go about it, because people will start asking those very questions.

But no, it's really not. It brought a lot of attention and shined light on what she was talking about. Just because people will have a very natural reaction doesn't mean we have to go there or give it airtime here.

It IS a derail, and it is still "i'm not going to listen to what you said because you were being rude, and i'm going to talk about how rude you were until you acknowledge it and sit down".

No. How about not. This isn't something she did wrong, this is a shitty reaction, and we're not obligated to go there or compelled by some lizard-brain default human reaction. It's a smokescreen that serves only the people who don't want to talk about this.
posted by emptythought at 3:01 PM on June 25, 2015 [17 favorites]


> But sometimes the method you use backfires on you and makes it so that you end up making the situation worse and setting the whole thing back by a long way.

There is no evidence that this is the case here. The opposite, even, since a number of outlets have done stories (linked in this very thread) about trans* people held in detention that I am pretty damn sure they wouldn't have published.

But if you have evidence of a terrible setback to the whole cause in this case, please do provide it.
posted by rtha at 3:02 PM on June 25, 2015 [14 favorites]


That should be instructive as to why her method was not a smart way to go about it. It is a very natural human reaction to a person interrupting someone who is speaking. Its exactly why this way is the wrong way to go about it, because people will start asking those very questions.

That's doesn't strike me as natural at all. "Asking" "is this heckling" and "is she harassing the president too much" is profoundly ideological and rhetorical. I might view these types of reactive questions as due to low-information rationality i.e. people with an information deficit, not because it is some natural human response.
posted by polymodus at 3:14 PM on June 25, 2015


But if you have evidence of a terrible setback to the whole cause in this case, please do provide it.

She made herself out to be a heckler. I don't know if that's a terrible setback, but I don't think most in the country would come away from her actions knowing more about her cause. They just hear someone talking over the President who comes off like a party-crasher with poor self-control. And not all of that perception is the media's fault, either. So that seemed like a missed opportunity. More's the pity.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 3:15 PM on June 25, 2015


Task Force Statement

No matter if she made herself out to be a heckler or not, a heck of a lot of people are paying attention.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:25 PM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you care so little about the suffering of others that someone's rudeness puts you off, you weren't going to do anything about it anyway.
posted by Zalzidrax at 3:30 PM on June 25, 2015 [12 favorites]


For what it's worth, the local rag here in Sydney ran their article on the angle of "Obama shutting down the heckler", but nevertheless mentioned what Gutierrez was protesting. I don't know whether gaining traction in todays press for a couple of days amounts to much in the US. It certainly doesn't in Oz!
posted by kisch mokusch at 3:31 PM on June 25, 2015


To me, this is quite simple. A protester is most effective when they are the recipient of the anger, not the person dealing it out. A protester is most effective when they do not launch personal attacks, but instead place themselves in a position where they are attacked just for being who they are at the time and place where they are at that moment.

Ironmouth, in light of the epidemic of violence faced by trans women of color every day, this remark strikes me as particularly insensitive.

If being attacked for no reason, simply for existing, would grant trans women of color equal protection under the law and full civil rights, sadly enough, they would already have them.
posted by Juliet Banana at 3:44 PM on June 25, 2015 [21 favorites]


I think trans women of color, especially immigrant trans women, have got far, far more of being attacked just for being who they are than anyone should ever have to have. Exactly how many have to die, would you say, before they are effective? How many need to be raped in detention facilities?
posted by gingerbeer at 3:48 PM on June 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


Ironmouth: "But sometimes the method you use backfires on you and makes it so that you end up making the situation worse and setting the whole thing back by a long way."

That is indeed a thing that can happen, using any method regarding any subject in the world.

That is not what has happened, or is even at all likely to happen, with the issues affecting members of the trans* community that Gutiérrez and Not One More Deportation are trying to address.

This is what I meant when I wrote about approaching this from a very detached point of view. It comes off very armchair-analytical and even a tiny bit patronizing (with the implication of you are going to do more damage to your cause than good and you should know better).

I also think that equating Gutiérrez's actions to yelling and screaming is incredibly uncharitable, to say the very least.
posted by erratic meatsack at 3:51 PM on June 25, 2015 [8 favorites]


I don't know if that's a terrible setback, but I don't think most in the country would come away from her actions knowing more about her cause.... So that seemed like a missed opportunity.

What other actions do you think Gutiérrez could have taken that would have gotten anyone talking about this issue? I, for one, didn't realize that trans people were suffering like this in detention, so she educated at least one American.
posted by Etrigan at 4:07 PM on June 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


What other actions do you think Gutiérrez could have taken that would have gotten anyone talking about this issue?

I think it is a bit much to state there were no other alternatives. Come on.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 4:48 PM on June 25, 2015


Blaming Obama for his reaction as if it was a condemnation of the protest subject seems unfair.

Isn't this the second time that he's done this though? Been kind of jerkish to protesters ostensibly from the side that he supposedly has sympathy for?
posted by corb at 4:49 PM on June 25, 2015


I think it is a bit much to state there were no other alternatives.

Feel free to name some, then. Editorial in the New York Times? Holding a sign up at the Today show? Documentary movie? Shouting at the President got people talking, even if not "most" people. How was it a "missed opportunity"?
posted by Etrigan at 5:12 PM on June 25, 2015


Editorial in the New York Times? Holding a sign up at the Today show?

Those are definitely real alternatives, insofar as others have used them. Particularly op-eds.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 5:28 PM on June 25, 2015


Here's a challenge: Script for me the way you think this SHOULD have gone. Seriously.

Obama: [Giving a speech commemorating Pride day]

Total Stranger in the Crowd: [Loudly and persistently shouts over him]

Obama: (Your turn, folks. Show me what you honestly and realistically believe President Obama should have done in this situation that would make you feel better about it.)

And no, I don't think this is a rhetorical comment. I'm genuinely curious how you think this should have gone. Also, I'm curious what sort of precedent you think it would've set.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:56 PM on June 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


a lungful of dragon: Those are definitely real alternatives, insofar as others have used them. Particularly op-eds.

Well, yeah, when the NYT agrees to run one you've written. That's not always easy, but it gets easier when they think the readers are wondering "what's all this about detention centers?" Actions like hers are how those editorials get in the papers. They're how the press releases get picked up, they're what poke people into googling things and hearing your message.

Having seen the tremendous successes of the gay rights movement I had some hope that the lessons of how that happened would stick, but that hope is fading. Instead we go back to the old complaints about tone and technique. Anyone who believes that wearing a suit, writing an op-ed, and getting beat up on camera would be a better technique is welcome to try. Meanwhile she got her views in the New York Times. Seems pretty successful to me.
posted by traveler_ at 6:00 PM on June 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


It's not all that wonderful to have Pride get hijacked, either. It's like we finally have a President who recognizes us, and we can't even enjoy that recognition for one second without someone shouting the same words at him over and over again. It's not even a tone argument, it's just plain disrespectful and dismissive of every single person around you in that room who has also been through their own personal struggle.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 6:03 PM on June 25, 2015


Trans people are part of the group Pride is supposed to celebrate. They're not highjacking Pride.
posted by jaguar at 6:09 PM on June 25, 2015 [29 favorites]


OK, this is going to be long.

1. I think tactically it was a brilliant move to bring this to the WH Pride cocktail party, because when you look at where all the money from Big Gay(tm) is going, it's sure as hell not to QTPOC. The people in that room probably represented many of the LGBT non-profits, and need to be yelled at and questioned just as much as the government. Every single one of them put out a press release supporting Caitlyn Jenner, and then made a mad scramble to try and court her as someone to add to their stable of spokespeople (because Big Names in your fundraising materials = Big Rewards.) Talking about undocumented trans women does not bring in your operating budget for the year.

2. When we (ACT UP NY) went to speeches and meetings and parties and began to yell questions and make noise, we got the same response: "No one will listen because you're rude, and loud and disruptive! You're alienating those most sympathetic to us! You have to work from the inside!" And so began the inside/outside strategy: get some people into the meeting, and make sure everyone heard the yelling outside. But the only reasons we got to the meetings? Yelling, and knowing what the fuck we were talking about. Silence = Death. For real.

3. The first gay pride was a riot. The NY March used to go uptown to the places we weren't welcome, not downtown where we were tolerated. It changed direction because, well, money -- all the bars were downtown and wanted people to finish, not start, there.

We have forgotten so much, gained a great deal and lost a fair bit in the process. I've been doing this work in one form or another since I was 13 years old, and while I never thought I'd see some of the great things that have happened, I know that while I have lived here in Ohio, I have had no recourse for the job, health care and educational discrimination I've experienced because there are no laws here for protection. When we were farther outside, it colored our priorities and the more inside we have gotten, the more I feel that we've lost sight of the immediate, day to day needs of the majority of our communities (as well as those who intersect with us.)

One could argue that Ms. Gutiérrez did the most honor to those who fought at the Stonewall Inn, and those we lost to AIDS by speaking up to the President. I, for one, thank her.
posted by ltracey at 6:34 PM on June 25, 2015 [27 favorites]


it's pretty fucking disrespectful and dismissive to post shit about trans women of color "hijacking pride" when many trans and NB people were a major impetus to getting any movement for queer recognition and rights started and the only hijacking that's happened is by capitalist, "respectable" heteronormative gays and "allies"
posted by NoraReed at 6:34 PM on June 25, 2015 [17 favorites]


> It's not all that wonderful to have Pride get hijacked, either.

What the hell - aren't you embarrassed to say this out loud?
posted by rtha at 6:39 PM on June 25, 2015 [15 favorites]


Seriously! A few comments now mentioned things like her shouting unrelated things or trying to change the topic or highjacking the main event. I'm really unsure how these conclusions are being drawn. It seems to me that you'd have to ignore a lot of context to both the event she was invited to AND the cause she's fighting for in order to do that.

I also don't expect Obama to stop and engage with her for the rest of the night. I understand why he decided to have her escorted out instead. I get it, that's the expected response when it comes to interrupting a schedule. However what she did got people talking about some crazy important issues, and that is always part of an activist's goal.
posted by erratic meatsack at 6:40 PM on June 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


I cannot believe anyone, in this day and age, is still saying things like "Yes, I agree, your group has experienced injustice, but if you'd just be a little more polite about it, I'm sure you'd get better results!'

Stopping injustice does not work that way. Protests and die-ins and angry letters and phone calls, and yes, calling out the President during a public speech all break the rules of polite society. They have to.

Because no one pays any fucking attention to your polite requests that they stop hurting you. That is what injustice is. That is how it operates.

Can we please for the love of god stop demanding that people being tortured and imprisoned and assaulted and killed stop making us uncomfortable and be more polite? Do we have enough basic humanity to finally stop fucking doing that?
posted by emjaybee at 6:40 PM on June 25, 2015 [18 favorites]


It's not all that wonderful to have Pride get hijacked

"LGBT* Pride Month"

*the "T" is silent, apparently

Considering the statistics relating to trans women of colour held in immigration detention, and the fact that trans women of colour are the LGBT demographic that accounts for something like 90% of hate crimes and murders? This makes me think (hypothetically since I have no idea whether this happened!) of Reagan being heckled by an AIDS activist in the '80's and people only talking about how terribly rude it was for that young man to interrupt the President like that. (And as the head of the executive branch Obama has direct responsibility for ICE; it's like the sign on Truman's desk said.)
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 6:43 PM on June 25, 2015 [12 favorites]


It's not just like someone else being interrupted; Obama was actively congratulating himself and the people in the room on making progress on LGBT rights. Gutierrez was pointing out that his administration was still actively harming LGBT asylum seekers.
posted by jaguar at 7:41 PM on June 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


(I actively like the word "actively," apparently.)
posted by jaguar at 7:46 PM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


IronMouth: "And anyone who thinks that Martin Luther King, Jr. got up and started interrupting people who were talking is simply incorrect. He said a lot of things that people did not want to hear, but he always did it in a way that was respectful to others, even when they were not respectful to them."

And now he's dead. That's what respectability bought Martin Luther King, Jr.

It's funny how people can stare at this, one of the greatest lessons of the Civil Rights Movement, and not recognize it for what it is.
posted by koeselitz at 7:58 PM on June 25, 2015 [10 favorites]


When something like this occurs, there are people who will empathize with the people in the room who feel awkward and irritated that someone is making a big stink.

There are others who will empathize with the people who are being spoken up for. "Hell yes, if I was locked up in an overcrowded tent in the middle of the desert, if I was detained by ICE and questioned about my citizenship and separated from my young child while getting groceries, if I was being used as illegal slave labor for a dollar a day, I would want someone to raise their voice about it, and not shut up until someone finally listened."

Thank you to everyone who has posted really supportive and informative stuff in this thread, and for roomthreeseventeen for posting it; I wouldn't know as much about this issue as I do right now if not for y'all, and of course, if not for Jennicet Gutiérrez.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:02 PM on June 25, 2015 [12 favorites]


I think that, having been president for more than 6 years now, Mr. Obama has been shown so much disrespect, warranted or not, that his patience has grown thin. I don't think deep down he is unsympathetic to Ms. Gutierrez's cause (or maybe he is, I dunno); by this point he probably just hears someone shouting at him and has an automatic reaction of "god dammit not this shit again". Blame it on Obama Derangement Syndrome causing people to cry wolf, so to speak.
posted by DrAmerica at 9:40 PM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


No argument that she has a worthy cause, or that she succeeded in drawing attention to it. I'm only surprised that others think Obama should have acted any differently.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:40 PM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


You know, I reread the whole thread from start to finish just now and I can't find people who where adamant that Obama should have acted differently, or expressed any sort of surprise at his reaction.

chortly mentioned the "in my house" riposte was perhaps a bad choice, allthinky said that this whole thing didn't mean we can't be sad the President couldn't find a more graceful way to express himself, and that's about it.

Who are you talking about?
posted by erratic meatsack at 10:26 PM on June 25, 2015


I should add that the reason I'm asking is because it just looks like you're reading something into people discussing this issue that doesn't actually appear to be there. It's possible to be 1) sympathetic to Gutiérrez's cause, 2) heartbroken for her need to speak out in this way, and 3) understanding of the President 's reaction all at the same time.
posted by erratic meatsack at 10:35 PM on June 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


IMHO she's both right and wrong.

She's right because she's empirically right. There is literally no getting around that. There's obviously no better time to bring it to the president's attention when, well, he's right there.

It's wrong because everyone's there to celebrate. The past twelve months have literally been the best months for gay people EVER. Even though trans people didn't pick up everything that would make their lives less hellish (and those pieces of understanding that are still missing are some of the most dangerous as Ms Gutiérrez can plainly show) sometimes people just want to celebrate a fucking victory. Because people need that sometimes. A lot of times. Because it gives people the strength to plug on in fights that people don't know that they'll win. Or fights that they know they won't win but still need to be fought if only to keep it alive in the public's consciousness.

I don't know? We're making solid steps. We're pushing progress forward at an astonishing rate compared to the past forty years. We're getting there. There's no question about that. But that's cold comfort to the trans female put into the men's prison because she still has a dick and leaving her to be raped. For no other crime than trying to seek a better life.
posted by Talez at 11:17 PM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I was curious about the mention of Act Up here and the relevance to this event. I honestly couldn't remember anything the group did other than, well, act up. So I did a look around at rtha's link and the wikipedia entry, I realized I couldn't remember their accomplishments because they seem to be pretty thin. Unless you're counting disrupting stuff. That's where Act Up were vikings. But really important things that came about as a result? The links there look kind of tenuous. Frankly, I don't think anyone outside the activist community even remembers what Act Up was, let alone what they stood for.

This is where I start to get a little annoyed. Because it looks like activists priding themselves for making noise, first and foremost, accomplishments secondary. A little too People's Judean Front for me. And that's a fucking shame if Gutierrez' point becomes a circus act in the same way, because immigration, the treatment of illegal immigrants, and a particularly marginalized subset of which Gutierrez represents is simply too significant an issue. In general, MeFites aren't the ones needing convincing. We all get the message here and are quite willing to expound endlessly among ourselves. We're a bit of a bubble that way. I hope the message is indeed understood, remembered and heeded for the humanitarian importance it is, and not for "lol obummer heckler" news of the weird for today.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:35 PM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't get the idea that her tactic was ineffective. It raised awareness. That seems to have been what she was going for. Having her escorted out was a perfectly reasonable response, given that reacting any other way would have, as a side consequence, been a standing encouragement for random folks to trundle their own hobbyhorses into a Presidential event and treat it like a reddit thread.

Going forward we'll have to see what the Administration does (if anything), and how the wider LGBTQ community reacts, and of course there are critiques that will be made. But I'm kind of scratching my head over how either Gutierrez or Obama come out of this event as beyond the pale in the manner some people seem to be portraying them here.

For what its worth, first I've heard of this issue too, so, kudos to Gutierrez on that one.
posted by AdamCSnider at 11:46 PM on June 25, 2015


Important issue, and I would also add that "no one is illegal."

However heckling, hectoring, shouting down etc seems like a fairly rude and childish form of civil disobedience.


Oh no, someone was RUDE. That so much more horrible than any of the stuff Gutierrez herself was subjected to and totally out of line. How dare she be uncivil in response to the polite abuse and mistreatment she and many others like her receive.

I think there should be opportunities for like-minded people - allies - to respectfully disagree, that's all.

And that's what's happening. People are disagreeing with you that your statements are helpful, fair, or represent anything but a tone/respectability argument. Respectfully, there is something of a history of respectability politics being deployed to remove trans people and their rights from conversations about LGBT equality, as well as the general throwing under the bus of trans people by cis queer activists, and it may be worth bearing that in mind before focusing so completely on a method you disapprove of rather than the important points being raised.

The method only distracts from the message if you become distracted by it. The only way the medium can overshadow what she's saying is if you don't listen to what she's saying. YOU can stop protesting the minor detail of how this was raised and as an interruption to whom in favour of actually engaging with the travesty that prompted it.

What you're doing instead is functionally equivalent to concern trolling - 'well I WOULD support you guys, if you'd just do this little thing differently...'



That should be instructive as to why her method was not a smart way to go about it. It is a very natural human reaction to a person interrupting someone who is speaking. Its exactly why this way is the wrong way to go about it, because people will start asking those very questions.

Those same people could just, you know, NOT, and instead participate in the conversation about the injustices being brough to light, or at least allow that conversation to happen instead of shouting it down with points about respectability and how it's totally not THEIR fault for acting how they do, it's simply a reaction to the injustice of Gutierrez speaking out of turn (while of holding her responsible for her actions, rather applying the same 'reaction to injustice' logic).

It's not all that wonderful to have Pride get hijacked, either. It's like we finally have a President who recognizes us, and we can't even enjoy that recognition for one second without someone shouting the same words at him over and over again. It's not even a tone argument, it's just plain disrespectful and dismissive of every single person around you in that room who has also been through their own personal struggle.

Only if you define the 'us' in question in a way that excludes trans people, particularly immigrant trans women of colour. This is not a hijacking of Pride - a redefinition that says it stands only for respectable gay, lesbian, and perhaps bisexual people is a hijacking, though.


I was curious about the mention of Act Up here and the relevance to this event. I honestly couldn't remember anything the group did other than, well, act up. So I did a look around at rtha's link and the wikipedia entry, I realized I couldn't remember their accomplishments because they seem to be pretty thin. Unless you're counting disrupting stuff. That's where Act Up were vikings. But really important things that came about as a result? The links there look kind of tenuous.

From the wikipedia page in question (emphasis mine):
"On September 14, 1989, seven ACT UP members infiltrated the New York Stock Exchange and chained themselves to the VIP balcony to protest the high price of the only approved AIDS drug, AZT. The group displayed a banner that read, “SELL WELLCOME” referring to the pharmaceutical sponsor of AZT, Burroughs Wellcome, which had set a price of approximately $10,000 per patient per year for the drug, well out of reach of nearly all HIV positive persons. Several days following this demonstration, Burroughs Wellcome lowered the price of AZT to $6,400 per patient per year."

"In January 1988, Cosmopolitan magazine published an article by Robert E. Gould, a psychiatrist, entitled "Reassuring News About AIDS: A Doctor Tells Why You May Not Be At Risk." The main contention of the article was that in unprotected vaginal sex between a man and a woman who both had "healthy genitals" the risk of HIV transmission was negligible, even if the male partner was infected. Women from ACT UP who had been having informal "dyke dinners" met with Dr. Gould in person, questioned him about several misleading facts (that penis to vagina transmission is impossible, for example), questionable journalistic methods (no peer review, bibliographic information, failing to disclose that he was a psychiatrist and not a practitioner of internal medicine), and demanded a retraction and apology. When he refused, in the words of Maria Maggenti, they decided that they "had to shut down Cosmo." According to those who were involved in organizing the action, it was significant in that it was the first time the women in ACT UP organized separately from the main body of the group. Additionally, filming the action itself, the preparation and the aftermath were all consciously planned and resulted in a video short titled, "Doctor, Liars, and Women: AIDS Activists Say No To Cosmo." The action consisted of approximately 150 activists protesting in front of the Hearst building (parent company of Cosmopolitan) chanting "Say no to Cosmo!" and holding signs with slogans such as "Yes, the Cosmo Girl CAN get AIDS!" Although the action did not result in any arrests, it brought significant television media attention to the controversy surrounding the article. Phil Donahue, Nightline, and a local talk show called "People Are Talking" all hosted discussions of the article. On the latter, two women, Chris Norwood and Denise Ribble took the stage after the host, Richard Bey, cut Norwood off during an exchange about whether heterosexual women are at risk from AIDS. Footage from all of these media appearances were edited into "Doctors, Liars, and Women." Cosmopolitan eventually issued a partial retraction of the contents of the article."

"In October 1990, attorney Theresa McGovern filed suit representing 19 New Yorkers who claimed they were unfairly denied disability benefits because of the CDC’s narrow definition of AIDS. At an October 2, 1990 protest to raise attention for McGovern’s lawsuit, two hundred ACT UP protestors gathered in Washington and chanted “How many more have to die before you say they qualify,” and carried posters to the rally with the tagline “Women Don’t Get AIDS/ They Just Die From It.” The CDC’s initial reaction to calls of the revising the AIDS definition included setting the threshold of AIDS for both men and women at a T cell count of under 200. However, McGovern dismissed this suggestion. “Lots of women who show up at hospitals don’t get T cells taken. No one knows they have HIV. I knew how many of our clients were dying of AIDS and not counted.” Rather, McGovern, along with the ACLU and the New Jersey Women and AIDS Network, called for adding fifteen conditions to the list of the CDC’s surveillance case definition, which was eventually adopted in January 1993. Six months later, the Clinton administration revised federal criteria for evaluating HIV status and making it easier for women with AIDS to secure Social Security benefits. The Women’s Caucus’ role in altering the CDC’s definition helped to not only drastically increase availability of federal benefits to American women, but helped uncover a more accurate number of HIV/AIDS infected women in the United States"

I could go on, but really, just go back and read the article again maybe?
posted by Dysk at 1:09 AM on June 26, 2015 [15 favorites]


"us"
posted by these are science wands at 1:59 AM on June 26, 2015


It's wrong because everyone's there to celebrate. The past twelve months have literally been the best months for gay people EVER.

how dare she have interrupted the "I've got mine" party
posted by NoraReed at 2:29 AM on June 26, 2015 [16 favorites]


In the tradition of how Pride started, I interrupted his speech.

I'm not really sure that's how Pride got started.


Pride started with a riot. Next to that, this was like a gentle reminder note.

I tend not to engage in disruptive activism - not because I disapprove, but because it often isn't as effective as other forms of activism. But sometimes, disruption is the only tool you have and you have to use it.
posted by jb at 5:50 AM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's a good point. But the fact of the matter is that her tactics in this case did not work at all.

We are talking about the treatment of LGBT people in detention centres - that is a success.
posted by jb at 6:06 AM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am so proud of Jennicet for doing what she did. That audience was the perfect place to raise the issue loudly, right in the middle of their self-congratulathon.

Go read the article in roomthreeseventeen's link near the top of the discussion, and the part about detention-bed quotas in the Fusion article in the original post. If it's indeed true that 70% of gltb detainees who are recommended for release continue to be detained, and the rate of continued detention against recommendations is much higher for queer detainees, and that a 2009 law calls for a minimum number of 34,000 detainees to be held every night and that forces ICE to hold people against recommendations for release, then those are huge issues worth talking about far more than whatever happy bullshit Obama was about to spew all over that room, to rapturous applause.
posted by mediareport at 6:09 AM on June 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


(And that "This is my house" line was completely obnoxious.)
posted by mediareport at 6:10 AM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


I checked the news again this morning, because I kind of hoped to see a statement from Obama about Ms. Gutiérrez, but in my googlings I haven't seen anything. Which is really kind of amazing. He has had time to reflect, time to find out who she is and what she stood for and why she felt the moral urgency to say what she said. And he decides to be silent about it. Decides to let a little part of his legacy be that time he told a woman to shut up in his house.

But what amazes me even more is the media response. People are actually listening. Reporters are going to her to ask her what she said, what she meant. They are talking about the content of her message (rather than the regrettable focus some want to have on her method, that classic misogynist trope).

She is so brave. What do you believe in, what do I believe in, so strongly that we would take the risk she took?
posted by mittens at 6:24 AM on June 26, 2015 [10 favorites]


Two things, for me:

1) if she has pushed this conversation further into the spotlight (and she has!), her protest was a success.

2) unless you are part of the minority group being oppressed, you don't get a say in how members of that group protest against their oppression. Period. As rtha said, it's not the polite straight-passing gay men who started riots and threw their bodies into harms way to give me and mine the freedoms we enjoy today. It was the bull dykes and the drag queens and the angry loud faggots. (I myself am an angry loud faggot and I use that word with defiant pride against everyone who has ever used it against me.)

You, that is the general you and not anyone specific, can fuck off entirely with your respectability politics and your "well you should be more polite when you are demanding that we treat you like a human being."

Equality is non-negotiable. If you want us to stop being rude about our demands, maybe it's time you consider--this is a radical notion for some-- not being an oppressive assbag.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:43 AM on June 26, 2015 [9 favorites]


As for 'hijacking' Pride... Being out is an inherently political act. Pride is an inherently political event. It's also a celebration.

A person who Pride is for standing up and being overtly political is no more hijacking the event than a bunch of cis white men in booty shorts dancing on a float are.

I'm disappointed--not surprised, though--to see yet another gay man (unless I have misunderstood past comments, and if I have, I'm sorry) throwing a trans woman under the bus because she was disturbing our complacency.

And SCOTUS just ruled on the right side of history.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:09 AM on June 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


There's tons of important issues out there. Kids are being killed by x, y, and z, people are dying over in xx, people are being killed in yy. Tons of stuff is important.

But expecting something different than being booted when you interrupt the leader of the free world who is talking about an important issue is just stupid.

I think kids dying because warlords are using aid-based food/medicine to finance their terror is a pretty important issue.

If Obama was giving a speech on trans people not being deported, and I interrupted him on this, what I'd basically be saying is:
My issues are more important than the issues that all the people in this room are gathered to hear. Dick move.


All this incident teaches me is that you can be on the right side of the fight, and do it the wrong way.
posted by hal_c_on at 7:37 AM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


And when we talk about about hijacking Pride, let's not forget that respectable cis gay men — a group that includes myself — hijacked it away from drag queens and trans people. The people being shoved into paddy wagons at the Stonewall Inn were largely gender-variant, many of them people of colour. They were the ones who said enough is enough, and fought back. They were the ones pushed aside after Stonewall, as LGB activists wanted to present a more respectable face to mainstream America — most notably Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, both trans women of colour. They were the ones written out of LGBT history.

Jennicet Gutiérrez is absolutely bringing Pride back to its roots: trans women of colour bringing attention to their struggles.
posted by Banknote of the year at 7:48 AM on June 26, 2015 [16 favorites]


Pride parades came about to celebrate the anniversary of Stonewall. So that's not true, either.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 8:24 AM on June 26, 2015


#notallprideparades: the one here started as a protest in response to bathhouse raids. It was explicitly political for well over a decade.

Point being, pride is for trans people too. Which means we need to listen; the fight isn't over yet. Pride and being out will stop being political when nobody anywhere ever has to be in the closet. Until then? Heckle on, Jennicet. Force the conversation.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:05 AM on June 26, 2015 [8 favorites]


Here in SF, and in other cities as well, "Pride" used to be called "Gay Freedom day." It doesn't take a lot of googling to discover the deep and explicitly political roots of the tradition.
posted by rtha at 9:39 AM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


how dare she have interrupted the "I've got mine" party

This seems like a very mean-spirited, uncharitable interpretation of what Talez was saying. Just because there is more progress to be made doesn't mean people shouldn't celebrate the progress that has actually already happened.
posted by DrAmerica at 9:51 AM on June 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


All this incident teaches me is that you can be on the right side of the fight, and do it the wrong way

This is the same old canard that is used any time someone makes any kind of protest that doesn't consist solely of the word "please?"
posted by easter queen at 10:30 AM on June 26, 2015 [8 favorites]


Pride parades came about to celebrate the anniversary of Stonewall. So that's not true, either.

And drag queens and trans women were part of the Stonewall riots.
Police raids on gay bars were frequent—occurring on average once a month for each bar. Many bars kept extra liquor in a secret panel behind the bar, or in a car down the block, to facilitate resuming business as quickly as possible if alcohol was seized. Bar management usually knew about raids beforehand due to police tip-offs, and raids occurred early enough in the evening that business could commence after the police had finished. During a typical raid, the lights were turned on, and customers were lined up and their identification cards checked. Those without identification or dressed in full drag were arrested; others were allowed to leave. Some of the men, including those in drag, used their draft cards as identification. Women were required to wear three pieces of feminine clothing, and would be arrested if found not wearing them. Employees and management of the bars were also typically arrested. The period immediately before June 28, 1969, was marked by frequent raids of local bars—including a raid at the Stonewall Inn on the Tuesday before the riots—and the closing of the Checkerboard, the Tele-Star, and two other clubs in Greenwich Village....

Sylvia Rivera, who was in full drag and had been in the Stonewall during the raid, remembered:
You've been treating us like shit all these years? Uh-uh. Now it's our turn!... It was one of the greatest moments in my life.
posted by jaguar at 11:53 AM on June 26, 2015 [6 favorites]


Actually, everything that the Task Force cited to is exactly how it should be done. But here's the thing, there is a mass of people out there who don't know about these issues. When they see the video, they are going to say "those people are jerks, I don't think I support them."

Everyone who is calling me insensitive isn't getting my point. My point is that this stunt almost always backfires.

Whether you like it or not, Not One More is a part of the present day civil rights movement. I have a strong suspicion that no one cares whether you think their actions are civilized or humanizing enough as people they care about are ripped apart from their families, deported to countries where they have nothing, raped, abused, placed in solitary confinement, separated from their children, and detained indefinitely despite not committing any crime.

Well, actually, most of them have committed a crime--against an unjust law, but a crime nonetheless. It is illegal to be in this (or any other country on the face of the earth) without being a citizen or having a legal visa or work permit. There is literally no country that allows anyone to just walk over the border without a work permit or visa, or prior treaty right (for example the EU). Not a single one.

Having said that, mistreatment and generally horrible conditions most definitely do exist in the places where we detain those who are alleged to be in the country illegally. And there is also no doubt that racism plays a big role (although no where near as big as in the past) in who we allow to enter the US. Frankly, racism plays a huge role in how every single country handles the issue of migrants entering a country illegally anywhere in the world. So we have to fix that. I'm just not convinced that acting in the way she acted has moved the ball forward. I think it has moved it backward, just a tad.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:36 PM on June 26, 2015


2) unless you are part of the minority group being oppressed, you don't get a say in how members of that group protest against their oppression. Period.

That is simply not true. The voters who have passed gay marriage in referenda or voted for state supreme court justices or state legislators who voted to legalize gay marriage are the people whose say counts. This is a democracy. The LGBTQ has fought hard to convince the mass of straight voters that these things are important. And those voters have responded. There aren't enough LGBTQ voters out there to command a majority. It has been straights who have followed the lead on this and it is there votes and their attitudes that have moved the ball on this. This is what happens in a democracy.

Second, this is a country with free speech. That means that everyone gets to say what they want. So folks are going to have an opinion on all of these things. Like it or not. And that's why its important to make sure that you are not harming the overall movement.

Remember the '72 Dem convention, people. It set us back a generation.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:42 PM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


My point is that this stunt almost always backfires.

What, trans immigrants will be killed 101 times more often in detention because of this?
posted by Etrigan at 12:50 PM on June 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


My point is that this stunt almost always backfires.

What, trans immigrants will be killed 101 times more often in detention because of this?


No, they will suffer for longer because you need people far more conservative than everyone here to support the changes that need to be made. Who do you think is moved the country towards marriage equality in the last few years? Relatively conservative people, people far more conservative than us. Those are the people you need to convince. If they aren't convinced, then you don't get the policy change you want.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:59 PM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Wow, for someone who has a lot of insight in how to convince people of things you're doing a pretty poor job of it in this thread. I think I'm going to stick with direct action and speaking up about injustice versus bowing, scraping, shuffling, pandering and begging the Omnipotent Straight Powers That Be while wearing a crisp three-piece suit, but thanks so much for your input.
posted by Juliet Banana at 1:03 PM on June 26, 2015 [13 favorites]


Just out of curiosity, Ironmouth, how much earlier do you think we would have had marriage equality if it weren't for those scary Pride parades?
posted by Etrigan at 1:20 PM on June 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


2) unless you are part of the minority group being oppressed, you don't get a say in how members of that group protest against their oppression. Period.

That is simply not true. The voters who have passed gay marriage in referenda or voted for state supreme court justices or state legislators who voted to legalize gay marriage are the people whose say counts.


That's not a say in how an oppressed group protests, that's purely a say in how it's reacted to. Not the same thing.
posted by chaosys at 1:36 PM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


> Who do you think is moved the country towards marriage equality in the last few years?

The SCOTUS decision is a link in a long chain that began way before these "relatively" conservative people began moving it forward recently (and they were absolutely not the only ones moving it), and that chain is made with suit-wearing Mattachine and Daughters of Bilitis members as well as topless dykes on bikes and bearded faeries and many more besides. Just quit with the "this is the one best way to do this, be polite or else" bullshit already because it's ignorance at best and deliberately lying propaganda at worst.
posted by rtha at 2:29 PM on June 26, 2015 [8 favorites]


Ironmouth: "Everyone who is calling me insensitive isn't getting my point."

However I think they're doing a damn fine job letting you know how you're coming across.
posted by erratic meatsack at 2:47 PM on June 26, 2015 [8 favorites]


oh my god, Ironmouth, there are interpretations for things other than the strictly legal ones, and combining "BUT FREE SPEECH", rules lawyering people's reactions, and doing the same respectability politics/tone policing shit that every marginalized group constantly gets from people who just want them to shut up is making you look like an unempathetic clod, so you might want to cut it out, no matter how many FREE SPEECHES you are legally allowed
posted by NoraReed at 2:57 PM on June 26, 2015 [8 favorites]


Do all of the people who have OPINIONZ about how activists should be conducting their activism not realize that being an activist is basically a skilled profession? It requires a nuanced understanding of history and what tactics have previously worked before or not (i.e. real history, and not just bizarre "MLK was a suit-wearing peace-lover" revisionist history), PR skills, ability to balance the needs of various and sometimes conflicting audiences and communities, an ability to gauge context and apply tactics as necessary, an ability to conduct cost-benefit analyses, and so forth. Really, Gutiérrez has performed marvelously on all of these accounts. Just the fact that she had readily made herself available to media, had prepared statements, had gotten numerous major activist and advocacy organizations to issue statements of support - should indicate that her move was not at all contingent on Obama engaging with her, but rather on the very reasonable assumption that good journalists would conduct responsible journalism and try to get her angle. Her tactics are very much historically informed, as other people here have gone to lengths to explain; she took advantage of a national context that was very much curious and interested in transgender issues from Caitlyn Jenner recently being in the spotlight; she realized that this gala was essentially a way for the Obama to control perceptions of their administration on LBGT rights, and denied them of this opportunity. Sure, some folks will get their pants in a tizzy over her, but these people were not her target in the first place. Being an activist for marginalized people - and in particular, a transgender activist - means that literally every move that you conduct will come under scrutiny and criticism from respectability politics. There is no way for a trans activist to act without bizarrely offending some people - and honestly, if the name of the game is to actually do anything, you kind of have to ignore these folks. She played her cards brilliantly, especially given the uneven playing field she was on. Just because her actions didn't lead to immediate prison reform doesn't mean she's an ineffective activist - rather, it's indicative of how strongly the field is stacked against her having a voice in the first place, and she's effectively reversed that.

I mean, seriously, the people here arguing from paltry angles of "well what my grade six history teacher taught me" and "FREE SPEECH" remind me of people who've watched like, one episode of Law and Order, and think they're qualified to argue with lawyers about the law. Like, they're basically going "well, why didn't you lie to the judge because I'm really really emotionally sure that was the criminal" - the suggestions that they're offering are devoid of awareness that there are actual rules and contexts in which activists have to follow, and are basically just rationalizations for their own feelings of "it doesn't convince me so why should it convince anyone" despite obvious proof to the opposite including national media giving her articles to talk about her issues and the actual national task force issuing a statement in support of her! I'm sure there are critiques of what Gutiérrez could have done better, but these are not the critiques you're looking for. It's basically laypeople 'splaining to skilled activists how to actually do their own jobs.
posted by Conspire at 4:12 PM on June 26, 2015 [13 favorites]


Worth noting that however ineffective or rude or whatever you think this was, it definitely worked exactly as planned because there was a noticeable decent sized contingent of protesters with signs repeating her exact points outside of seattle's pride block party today.

I fail to see how this wasn't completely mission accomplished. It not only started a conversation, it got people out on the streets for this cause.

Would your "solution" have done that? I don't really think so.
posted by emptythought at 10:12 PM on June 26, 2015 [6 favorites]


Yea, we are seriously talking about it right now. If YOU have a bad taste in your mouth, that's between you and your mouth.
posted by easter queen at 10:43 PM on June 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ironmouth: "Remember the '72 Dem convention, people. It set us back a generation."

The idea that the 'extremism' of George goddamned McGovern "set us back a generation" for being too inflammatory or alienating of the 'moral majority' is an idea so inane that nobody has said anything like it for decades. Please keep in mind that you're parroting Nixon talking points. McGovern was a moderate in nearly every way; his failure had nothing to do with the Democrats being overindulgent of leftists and everything to do with Nixon running the most paranoic, hideously manipulative campaign ever run up to that point.

I mean, let's be clear about what you're suggesting: you're saying that in 1972 the Democratic Party made a fatal mistake, the mistake of a generation, when it failed to play the same game Nixon did and essentially hold the nation hostage to get its way. You're saying the Democratic Party screwed up by putting forward a moderate - who was immediately painted by Nixonian operatives as some kind of pill-popping lunatic, despite his utter squareness - instead of a conservative. You're saying we needed a liberal Nixon. Just let the contradiction there sink in for a moment.

What you seem to think is that the United States is made up of two distinct blocs - liberal and conservative - and that these blocs are always exactly the same proportions. You think conservatives are conservatives, they all think basically the same thing, and they are very much in the majority - so it's the job of liberals to convince, to cajole, to urge the conservatives along, in order to make progress happen.

Whereas - this is clearly not the case. I mentioned Reagan's 'moral majority' up above because you seem to buy into that; that's why you insist that today's victory was brought about by conservatives who have finally been convinced by nice liberals who were respectful. But this is not how sociology works. There is not a homogenous bloc of "conservatives" and a homogenous bloc of "liberals." That's why there can't be some kind of one-on-one dialogue between these two monolithic groups - because they don't exist.
posted by koeselitz at 11:33 PM on June 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


I mean - sorry, but I can't let this go - the biggest problem with the '72 Democratic Convention was the fact that it was hamstrung by the conservatives of the Democratic Party, the anti-McGovernites, who knew damned well that if they pushed through all these changes while encouraging the establishment to shun McGovern they'd see him go down spectacularly. The biggest threats to George McGovern came from conservative Democrats. Remember that quip about McGovern - that Americans think he's for "amnesty, abortion, and acid"? You know who coined that phrase? Later it turned out to have been Thomas Eagleton, the conservative establishment Democrat McGovern was basically forced to pick for VP in order to make the party happy. Eagleton was apparently secretly telling reporters all along that McGovern would fail, and ended up being one of the biggest reasons for his failure.

If anything, the 1972 Democratic Convention taught us that the left is a better source of ideas, and that the establishment Democrats were too closed off from reality to be a viable part anymore. And they really were. Remember that at that time the Democrats were saddled with the Southern wing of the party, dragging them down all the way and sabotaging any progressive effort. Reagan's Southern Strategy was the best thing to happen to the Democrats in a generation, because it purified the party and removed its worst elements, paving the way for Bill Clinton.
posted by koeselitz at 11:51 PM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


And - look, one last point, but it seems like the big one - I seem to recall something happening to Nixon in his term in office that made it pretty plain that the conservatives of the Democratic Party had made a pretty colossal mistake in destroying McGovern so thoroughly through neglect and through downright antagonism. You really think we needed somebody like Nixon?
posted by koeselitz at 11:55 PM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


[In case it's not obvious, probably 1972 and McGovern is a derail in this thread, which might do better to nudge back toward the topic/actual reasons for Gutierrez's action, rather than continuing to circle around and around the "is it ok to be rude for an important cause" question, which has been pretty well-covered by now.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:13 AM on June 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


Reposting this here because LobsterMitten removed it from the gay marriage thread even though it highlights disparities within the LGBT Community along class and race lines, and no one will read/care/discuss it in this thread.

Guardian: Obama's reply to a trans woman proves LGBT advocacy stops at gay marriage
The disparity in treatment of ICE detainees also highlights the enormous gap between the white, gay segment of the LGBT population and their trans people of color counterparts. The crowd at Obama’s Pride Reception, consisting mostly of white men in suits, amplified the President’s message by booing Gutiérrez and shouting Obama’s name, enacting in real time the long, historical marginalization of trans women of color. It’s been happening since at least the Stonewall Riots that ushered the modern LGBT movement, where organizers kicked out trans activist Sylvia Rivera, a founding member. For so many gay people today, LGBT advocacy stops at gay marriage, even as members of our community are routinely subject to harassment and violence, both in detention and outside.

In one of the videos of the incident Wednesday, a bystander could be heard shouting, “This is not for you. This is for all of us,” as though “all of us” doesn’t actually include everyone – people like Gutierrez, or me are left out of that definition of “us”. The bystander could not have known what an enormous risk Gutiérrez took by daring to question the president of the country where she is an undocumented immigrant. And nevermind that she was careful to repeatedly say, “Release all LGBT prisoners from detention centers,” not just trans prisoners, or that she’s advocating not for herself but for people confined merely because they were so desperate to seek asylum from horrendous conditions in their home countries. The gay men at Obama’s reception also seem to forget that their predecessors only 30 years ago needed to set aside good manners as they faced down Ronald Reagan about the AIDS crisis that was killing them in droves.
And: 35 Congress members tell Obama administration to end LGBT immigration detention

But please, let's keep talking about politeness and Pride and celebration.
posted by byanyothername at 8:06 AM on June 27, 2015 [10 favorites]


I was really heartened to read in the equality thread that so many people ended up speaking out about trans* rights - not just in the thread but reported speeches, marches, etc. My husband and I went out to dinner to celebrate and talked about the upcoming nonsense on California's ballot (which I didn't know until I believe gingerbeer posted about it) and the kind of work we have ahead of us.

And while I can post all kinds of excuses for Obama's reaction and decision not to engage, the reactions from the crowd were just horrendous.
posted by erratic meatsack at 10:44 AM on June 27, 2015


I'm ashamed to see some of the comments here, and ashamed that a comment about how Obama acted "reasonably" received so many favorites. Obama has a history of engaging people like this who "heckle" him. In this case, he completely shut her down, and had her escorted out. Shame. Her so-called LGBT allies told her to shut up and be quiet. Shame. This is trans phobia in action, from the president on down, and it is shameful. "I don't think this is how Pride was started". Did you read the fucking article? Going to events like this and trying to engage with the leadership in front of cameras is ABSOLUTELY one of the most effective Pride awareness tactics, going back to the mid 90s. Shame! This woman risked her security and safety to travel to this event, and she tried everything she could to engage the administration about this issue prior. Lots of work and activism. This act took tremendous courage. And some of you want to pooh-pooh her behavior. I can't believe I'm seeing this type of response on Metafilter. I'm livid. Shame on you!
posted by Brocktoon at 10:45 AM on June 27, 2015 [10 favorites]


Trans women may now be held in women’s facilities, immigration officials say
U.S. immigration officials on Monday announced transgender detainees will for the first time be able to be housed in detention facilities that match their gender identity.

The update is part of an 18-page guide unveiled today that details how U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers and contractors should interact with transgender immigrants in custody.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:25 PM on June 29, 2015 [9 favorites]


If only she hadn't been so rude, she might have been effective and achieved something instead of this.
posted by Dysk at 2:53 PM on June 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm willing to bet this was in the works before Friday, though obviously I agree with your larger point.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:33 AM on June 30, 2015


I'll be working, but there's a Not One More march next Wednesday in Chicago.
posted by Juliet Banana at 11:04 AM on June 30, 2015


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