Sunday, May 4, 2008

Why is Northampton different?

Click photos to enlarge.

So I went to the Gay Pride Parade yesterday in Hamp—their 27’Th year. No I’m not Gay--not that there's anything wrong with that, I just love a Parade (and support Gay Rights).

Could not help but notice the lack of anti-war signs, or homophobic signs from some Religious fundamentalist group. And even the 'Raging Grannies' left their anti-war placards home. Also noticed almost a dozen police officers doing traffic detail and I bet the city picked up that cost.
But when one of the 'Raging Granny' spokespersons called me last month inquiring about the Amherst July 4’Th Parade she was ever so quick to announce she was in a wheelchair (Yes, we allow wheelchairs) and equally quick to ask if we allow anti-war signs:

No, you can carry a banner designating your group and sing all the anti-war signs you like (did not even ask if they know the Star Spangled Banner) but no extra signs dealing with politics-be it war, abortion or gay rights.

After the Pride Parade I took my darling daughter Kira to the Amherst Common School Carnival, where I also noted a lack of anti-war protesters or politics of any kind.

And last year Kira proudly participated in the other July 4’Th Amherst (Bike) Parade in South Amherst for kids that has been happening for over 100 years: also no war protestors.


O'Reilly said...

"Why is Northampton different?"

Isn't that an existential question best left to students of sociology and other academic endeavors?

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, good point. I guess the upside is I never have to worry about blogging competition from somebody starting one called "Only in Northampton."

Gavin Andresen said...

Really, I think it's "Why is the 4th of July Different?"

I think there's an unease with Men in Uniforms and parades with Lots of American Flags. So the default liberal knee-jerk reaction kicks in-- which is to write a letter to the editor and go hold a sign.

Oh, and just to be an equal-opportunity troll: At least the default liberal knee-jerk reaction is better than the default conservative knee-jerk reaction, which is to go and bomb the hell out of somebody in another country...

Seriously: I the uniforms and flags in the 4th of July parade are seen as more threatening to people here in Amherst than the half-naked body-painted people in the gay pride parade. If we were in Arkansas, the opposite would be true.

Anonymous said...


So the sincere $64,000 question is: which political displays and signs in the Northampton parade did you think would be considered "offensive", under that word's definition in the rules of the Parade Committee? For example, did the Raging Grannies carry any signs in this parade that you would consider "offensive" for the 7/4 parade in Amherst?

Rich Morse

O'Reilly said...

Good point Rich. "Offense" is particular and dependent upon a point of view informed by a set of values.

I think the Parade Committee does best to adopt: A celebration to honor the country's Independence and the service of police, firemen and veterans and explicitly not for the purpose of "protest" for or against any cause; one sign per group with the group's name.

But of course, that's up to the Parade Committee.

By the by, my first comment was a little tongue in cheek to infer the implication not intended but somewhat funny when considered. I love Northampton, it was my second home growing up.

Anonymous said...

None of the signs I observed at the Gay Pride Parade--all of which were in synch with the spirit of Gay Pride--would have been deemed “offensive” by our committee in light of a July 4'th Parade where the spirit is a birthday celebration for American.

But if you are asking would we allow them? No. They were perfect for their parade, but not ours.

That's what is particularly noteworthy about the ‘Raging Grannies’: they were NOT carrying ANY sings (those things you see in their hands are sheet music). Yet at our 7/4 Parade, they want to carry anti-war signs.