The Umass ‘Rally for Public Decency’ put on by the, gasp, Republican Club, had a pretty good turnout considering the freezing weather—anywhere between 50 to 75 folks, mostly students, but a smattering of Umass officials (looking bored), cops, bloggers and the bricks-and-mortar media (Ch 3 TV with spiffy bright blue overcoats).
Of course the battle lines/spin are predictable: The Radical Student Union portrays the Republican Club as homophobic, and they in turn portray the issue as “sexual harassment” (making the general pubic uncomfortable via sexual images) and say it has nothing to do with gayness.
Somehow between 5:30 am and noon (rally time) I misplaced my camera. Ouch! A blogger without his camera is like a fish without a bicycle.
But nothing noteworthy as far as “bang-bang” occurred where I would be tempted to use the video setting. The signs were all hand made poster paper, although the wood podium from which the speakers delivered their oratory bore the official Umass logo (the one they nixed the word “Amherst” from a few years back)
I hung with my Irish, blogger compatriot Tommy Devine for most of the time I was there. And since he’s gay, I will be most interested to read his take on this tempest (and to steal some of his photos).
Undoubtedly if the Republican Club posted cut out photos from Hustler or Penthouse Magazines, in a public space, on state property there would be an eruption to rival Mt. Vesuvius.
I love the comments in today’s Collegian from Shaun Jamieson - the assigned advisor for both groups in the Office of Student Affairs: "I think that there are definite free speech issues with the flyer, but I think that there are concerns about whether or not it's appropriate," he said. "There's also good arguments that I've heard on both sides for keeping it up and taking it down and I just want to help both groups express themselves in the marketplace of ideas."
Ummm, glad he’s not a NORAD commandeer trying to decide whether to shoot down a civilian commercial jet hurtling towards a Nuclear Power Plant.
I support gay-marriage, but I’m a happily married hetero. And I would not be pleased with vivid illustrations of sex between a man and a women prominently posted on public property where kids could see it.
A Umass spokesperson said rather declaratively "The Radical Student Union will be required to remove the display." They in turn, pretty much replied: go to Hell.
When the cops move in to enforce the order, all they need do is arm themselves with bars of soap.