Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Heckling is not helping - Updated

Lots of people talking about the heckler who rudely interupted Michelle Obama yesterday during the First Lady's speech at a private fundraiser. The heckler was said to be a 56 year old lesbian activist who demanded our FLOTUS get the President to immeditaely sign an executive order on gay rights in the workplace. I'm seeing Michelle's response being called confrontational, but we can't know for sure since there's no video. I imagine in reality the FLOTUS was polite but firm, though clearly she wasn't going to ignore it.
“One of the things that I don’t do well is this,” she said to applause from most of the guests, according to a White House transcript. “Do you understand?”

A pool report from a reporter in the room said Obama “left the lectern and moved over to the protester.” The pool report quoted Obama as saying: “Listen to me or you can take the mic, but I’m leaving. You all decide. You have one choice.”
The heckler spun it like this:
“Basically, I was asked by the first lady to be quiet, and I can’t be quiet any longer,” Sturtz told the Huffington Post. “I was surprised by how negative the crowd seemed to be. It was actually a little unsettling and disturbing.”
Well actually FLOTUS told her to stop rudely interupting while it was her turn to talk, not that the Ms. Self-Important Heckler should shut up about the issue altogether. And the heckler was surprised the crowd wasn't applauding her disrupting the event and clamoring for her to take the mic instead? Maybe she should consider they paid their $500 bucks or more to hear Michelle Obama speak and heckler woman was abridging their right to do so.

I love and support activists. I strongly believe in standing up and fighting for causes you believe in, but this isn't activism. It's selfish attention seeking that smacks of nothing so much as a bid for 15 minutes of media fame. Who walked out of the event feeling enlightened on gay rights policy I wonder. I'd guess no one. More likely they were disgusted by inappropriate tactics and far less likely to support the heckler's cause.

So to answer Charlie's question, no, not only is it not helping, it's counterproductive. Her conduct reinforced every negative stereotype about harsh, in your face lesbians. It far more likely to validate the conservative argument that "those people" don't deserve special rights at all.

Adding, the really ridiculous thing is, no one has done more for gay rights than Barack Obama. The gay activist community's relentless demands to get everything, all at once, even at the expense of other equally deserving communities -- thinking here of threats to blow up the immigration bill because it doesn't address gays -- makes them look pretty damn selfish besides. That's no way to win hearts and minds over to their side. And I say that as life long supporter of their cause. [image via]

Update: Jake Tapper at his new gig The Lead comes up with some sketchy video of the encounter. Clearly Michelle was polite about it under the circumstances. Jake also retweets this from an attendee:
@atidman: @jaketapper @TheLeadCNN I was there and I agree with Jay Carney @PressSec that she handled it brilliantly!
And Laura tweets that the heckler claims she hadn't planned in advance. But Laura links to the heckler's tweets from May 30 that suggest otherwise.

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