By Scott Tibbs, August 31, 2007
On AM 1370 yesterday, the hosts of the Afternoon Edition discussed my open letter to Mayor Kruzan and my follow-up post regarding whether or not this fiasco should be classified as a "hate incident". The discussion moved into a general discussion of "hate crimes", but I want to make one thing very clear: I never said that last week's fiasco was a "hate crime".
Don Moore (husband of Bloomington City Clerk Regina Moore) defended the specific classifications that I criticized on Wednesday by noting that some groups need special protection as a result. This is certainly debatable, but the issue I raised is not about hate crimes, but hate incidents. It is clear that the radicals who were screaming in the faces of people who were only trying to do their jobs were acting out of hate. Screeching at someone to "get out of our community" is certainly an act of discrimination and intolerance.
Moore questioned why the mayor would denounce this behavior as he has always been a model of civility. I am not sure that Kruzan's ex-girlfriend would agree, given his arrest for breaking into her home in 1993. I don't think that a known burglar can be said to have always been a model of civility.
To address another point Moore made, what does it matter if these people were Earth First activists who are not from this community? The issue is not whether the people causing a disturbance live here or not. The issue is that the Mayor, as the leader of this community, should show leadership on tolerance and civility by denouncing the protesters and making it clear that this kind of incivility is unwelcome in Bloomington. The Mayor's silence on this matter is very disappointing.
A letter to the editor printed in the Herald-Times today asked "when did yelling and holding banners and signs become an unacceptable way to protest?" A message to Jeanne Leimkuhler: the Herald-Times did not say that those tactics were always unacceptable. Not one single time. Never. And you know it. In the right circumstances, yelling and holding banners is more than acceptable - it is appropriate and necessary. An example of this is the annual Take Back The Night march. What is not acceptable is shutting down a legal public meeting through the use of intimidating tactics.
Greg Travis (husband of Monroe County Council member Sophia Travis) called in and argued that there was no legal requirement that the meeting be public, so it should not have been. It is disappointing that a community leader like Greg Travis (who was appointed to the county economic development commission by the Monroe County Council in 2005) would argue against being as open as possible with the public. Does his wife, Monroe County Council member Sophia Travis, share this view?
There should not even be a debate here, folks. If we are truly a "safe and civil" city, then we should make it clear that shutting down public meetings through the use of intimidating tactics is not acceptable. Why is this so hard for some Leftists to do?