Valid Protests: BLM, Kim Davis, and my struggle with what is acceptable

I have talked a lot about this in the past.  What is a valid protest?  Why we should not criticise the type of non-violent protest and attempt to talk about why people are protesting.  I have, in making this point, used Kim Davis’s protest against gay marriage as an example of a point I strongly disagree with but is still valid and I always get pushback.

With the recent Charlottesville clash and other things, I brought it up again.  This time 150903-kim-davis-mug-535p_83260bf402e446e833c206a6bde84a21.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000some points brought up against Kim Davis hit harder.  I took a step back and really thought about it again.  Even as I write this I am not sure if I have changed my view or not.  This is in part a mental exercise putting my thoughts down on “paper” and really work through these questions.  I believe it is important to be able to question your firmly held beliefs and now I’m going to struggle as publicly as I can.  I welcome comments and arguments, especially on this article.

A Bit of History

Quickly on how I got here.  I was a part of my local Occupy Movement protests.  In discussions with those outside of that world, it would generally start and never get past the “They can’t be taking up parks, disturbing people’s lives! go home, get a job!”   I had a home and a job but that didn’t matter.  I hardly ever got to talk about the actual points the protest was trying to make.

After that, I hear the same points.  From pipeline protests to anti-stadium protests.  I would have conversations, not about the actual topic but if they should be doing that thing they were going to draw attention to a topic.

The solution to me was to say that any non-violent protest was valid.  I could argue that and move on to what the point of the protest faster.  To move the conversations faster with more conservative people I would use Kim Davis as an example more on “their side” to move forward the conversation.

Then when I used Kim Davis to make the valid protest argument with more liberal people they could not stand that and called Kim Davis and what she did things I will not repeat here.

Up to now I would counter with historic protests that did similar things on their side but could never crack that nut.  Now I think they may be right.

Rally vs Protest

I need to make clear this difference. A rally is a well-organized event where like-minded people gather to talk about what they all agree about.  No violence, specific march routes, permits, generally have port-a-potties, fliers, and street food.  A rally is a celebration.

A protest is done not to talk about goals among themselves but to share their goals with those who don’t agree.  It intends to disrupt the current order to make a change in that order.  Usually done without permits or done beyond the limits of those permits.  Designed to draw as much attention to a topic as possible.  A protest is a disruption.

Kim Davis’s Actions

What Kim Davis did in response to gay marriage become legal in the USA in 2015 is what this is all about so let’s break it down.  In Kentucky, a marriage license is issued in the name of the county clerk, a position that Kim Davis held.

Her beliefs against gay marriage led her a moral need to not have her name on marriage licenses of gay couples.  After turning away a few gay couples and starting to draw national attention she had the office stop issuing marriage licenses altogether.

In the initial court fights the court order a temporary stay preventing her from “Applying her ‘no marriage licenses’ policy to future marriage license requests” that was upheld on appeals.  Kim Davis still refused to issue any marriage licenses.

Kim was found in contempt of court and was thrown in jail.  The clerk’s office started issuing marriage licenses to everyone.  5 days later Kim Davis was released from jail.  when she returned to work she altered the marriage forms so they would no longer have her name on them.  Courts ruled that the new forms were legal.

There was great hype on all sides over this.  Much of it was false or overblown. Even though I 100% disagree with what she was fighting against, this action I called a legitimate protest.

Validity of Kim Davis’s protest

How I would argue that her protest was valid was simple.  Someone would bring up a point and I would bring up an example of a similar protest, usually during the civil rights movement or the struggle for interracial marriage.

A recent example:
“What she did was literally against the law. It was not legal…  She didn’t “go to court” she was found in contempt of court and sentenced. There was no trial.”
My response. “Lovings fought interracial marriage law by breaking the law, were held in contempt of court and fought it to the Supreme Court.”

If I was going to ask people on one side of an issue to ignore the protest tactics of the other side to have a discussion about what they are protesting about, I must respect the right of that side to protest in a similar way.

In the realm of protesting, she was in a unique position to make a legitimate protest against gay marriage.  Kim Davis, as a County Clerk, did what she thought was right.  Two years earlier some California County Clerks did the opposite thing after Prop 8 passed banning gay marriage in the state and kept issuing gay marriage licenses.

Then came Charlottesville

It was after watching what was billed as a rally to defend a statue but was in actuality a violent protest for white supremacy.  After watching people getting tossed into the air by that car. After someone died because they stood against Nazis in 2017.  After watching the President defend those white nationalists as “very fine people”  I got angry.

I had arguments with people who were defending Nazis by proxy in the name of free speech.  Free speech does not protect you from consequences from your speech. Outing white supremacists is a good practice of one’s free speech.

Them. “But the KKK guy lost his job! What about his children?”

Me. “Is teaching your kids that other races are inferior and need to die child abuse?  I think so.  Get the kids out of there.”

There needs to be a limit to tolerance or the intolerant will eliminate the tolerant.

Taking a knee

At this point, I had left the whole Kim Davis argument behind.  It wasn’t relevant when discussing Nazis.  Then the president talked about the taking of a knee at NFL games.  The conversation swung back to how people protest not what people protest.  I came across a meme.


I shared it even though it is not the best line up of protests.  Kim Davis refused to do something that was part of their job.  NFL players protest during their job but continued to do their job.  I started to get people saying how she wasn’t protesting and I turned to my old arguments about it.

Then I started to question my belief

In the course of these arguments, a friend of mine went on a fairly good rant.

She was not “protesting” she was being a hateful bitch, and she got caught. …Protest is when the powerless challenge the powers that be to correct course (like Lovings). What she was doing was gate keeping. When opponents of marriage equality lose, they lose nothing. When cops shoot black people and then say they were scared, it’s not a fucking protest. When white male CEOs give promotions to their white male pals and say he earned it, it’s not a protest. When Israeli settlers throw stones at Palestinian children, it’s not a fucking protest. It’s just exercising their control over the situation to maintain their position of power. When she got caught being a shithead, others came pouring out of the woodwork to defend her, and suddenly she is doing it out of moral goodness? WTF? Was Trayvon Martin’s killer “standing up for what he believed” when he went to trail for murdering a child? No. No, he wasn’t. He was just trying to get away with it. And so was she. So don’t call it a fucking protest. She only started calling it a protest because she was in trouble for being exposed for illegal discrimination. Not. The. Same. Thing.

It really made me think.  Kim Davis used her power to effectively prevent those who fought hard for a right to practice that right.  Laws against racial discrimination did not end racial discrimination.  Once segregation was illegal would it be a protest if a business still kept separate bathrooms for blacks?  If someone were to argue that I cannot hire a black man as a protest in favor of… what? White supremacy.  Would I consider that valid?  Would refusing a marriage license to an interracial couple on religious grounds be a legitimate protest?


As I read again what my friend wrote she is right.  That was my initial reaction when I read it too.  I had to take time to think about it.  My mind drifted to what would be a “Legitimate Protest” for the other side.

Not living the injustice

Sometimes I forget that I am coming at these things as a straight white male.  While I fight for racial justice, woman’s rights, for LGBT rights and other causes, I cannot know their struggles like they do.

When I go home, I get to go home without worrying about a cop stopping me because I’m black.  I don’t worry about what route I take home to avoid being harassed because I’m a woman.  I don’t worry about getting assault because I might pass as straight or the gender I am.  It is not a constant presence in my life and I can just be.  I wish everyone could just be.

What is a legitimate protest?

To that question, I do not know.  What I do know I will not be using Kim Davis as an example of a legitimate protest.  I, in all likelihood, will stop using the term altogether.

As I worked through writing this, some of the things I thought would be important turned out not to be.  I will leave it all in as evidence of the process.  If we are not open to considering that we are wrong how can we convince others to change their mind?



9-11-01 What I Never Forget

What is it that we should never forget?  I won’t forget that both my parents called me that morning unaware of what was going on. Or that my cousin had a baby that day.


I will never forget to watch the towers fall on TV. The brave first responders that ran into the buildings to help.  The people who searched for people and then bodies after.

I remember how 15 of the hijackers and Osama bin Laden were Saudis and much of the money that funded Al Qaeda was Saudi oil money. And finding out that Bush allowed Saudi Nationals to fly out of the country while no one else could fly.

I remember “I can hear you,” “Let’s roll,” and “Mission accomplished.”

I remember Bush and company using 9-11 to get us to attack Iraq.  I remember the forgotten war we are still losing troops in 16 years later. I remember when the number of soldiers who died in the wars surpassed the number we lost on 9-11 (September of 2006)

I remember Bush not blaming the Islamic religion but extremist.  I remember how that shifted when the president changed because he was a secret Muslim.  I remember having to remind people the Obama wasn’t President during 9-11.

I remember the US forgetting its morals in the defense of its liberty.  I remember Guantanamo, rendition, the PATRIOT ACT, Abu Ghraib, torture, Blackwater.  I remember that our enemies use these as recruiting tools.

I remember that my niece, born on that day 16 years ago, is now old enough to drive.

Avast Anti-Customer?


Quick graphic job. Unlike Avast’s customer service

[Update:  I have heard back from Avast after this post went up.  They have attempted to make this right.  Will do full update after fully resolved]

I went on a twitter rant last night. The target was Avast, an antivirus company.  This is not against their products that I find work if somewhat annoying.

I am coming at this with over 20 years of customer service from driving cab to retail management, to tech support.  I also know that customer service is not easy but it is also vital, especially today, to attempt to do it right.

*Deep sigh* Before I start ripping into you I want to lay out the situation.  We had a little hacking scare.  So I decided to up my protection from Avast from the free to the lower tear paid service.  You charge $49.99/year but always have sales, this one was $19.99/year.  I got charged the $50 plus tax and because a browser issue, probably on my end, I got charged twice.  Two mistakes easily corrected. The double charge is obvious but the deal I expect some push back on but was ready to fight for.

So I call on a Sunday evening and find out that ALL billing questions you must put in a ticket on their website.  Fine… Let me find that on your website… 30 minutes later I am able to find the place to put in a ticket.  I mentioned nicely both problems and waited.

Five days later.  Five business days later…

captureLet me just pause here.  How the hell does it take you more than one business day to respond to somebody’s complaint?!  It’s 2016 not the 1950’s.

And this problem isn’t tricky or nuanced.  Even if it was tricky you send a reply that day saying so and that you are working on it.  I’ve got over $100 tied up for a week waiting for you to correct this crap.  It had actually left my mind during a busy week that you overcharged me and I was waiting for a reply.

Generations of fruit flies lived and died, 1.5 million people have been born in that time. And you can’t get someone read a ticket and say, “Yep he’s right” and respond?

After five days you had better get it right so both of us can move on…

This is the email I got five days after I put in a ticket.

Hello Toby,

Thank you for contacting Avast. May I offer you to combine your licenses together and thus create an extended coverage (merged and combined with the remainder of your old one – therefore ensuring you don’t miss any of the time you have paid for) instead of refund to be initiated, please?
Just let me know.

Best regards,


*Deep Breath* NO!  Did you not read both parts of the complaint?  You double charged AND over charged! At the deal value that is still less than one of the payments I made!  You want me to pay $100 for 2 years when I was trying to pay $20 for 1 year?!?!?

On what planet do you think I am from?  This isn’t some new math mistake.  This is complete ignorance of issues that you are responding too.

Also the end of the question in the response  “…instead of refund to be initiated, please?”  Poor grammar and I can tell just by these seven words that Andrew is not at fault.  I’m fairly certain the billing customer service people are judge on money not customer satisfaction.  Andrew probably saw that  he would have to give me more than he is allowed without permission and brought it to his boss who said no refunds or it’s your job.

Avast doesn’t know what they have done.  They better make this right and soon.  I am not going away.  I hope that you don’t take another 5 days to respond to my nice response to your customer “service” response.

You will regret it.


Stress, I disbelieve!

I used to say I don’t believe in stress.  It seemed to be an invention of modern society that served no purpose other than giving ulcers to people.  Now that I’m older I understand more of what stress is supposed to be.  It’s a combination of different feelings that can be brought on by situations one is uncomfortable in.

What I find to have more truth about what causes stress is not the situations itself but the anticipation of situations. As an introvert I find myself getting anxious leading up to parties or unknown social situations.  I can show up to work and have a crazy day where I work my butt off.  If I don’t know about it ahead of time I’m not worried about it and can just dive in and get though it.  If I knew it was going to be that crazy I may start to obsess about it.  My performance may even be effected by that obsessive behavior.

On the other end I can take crazy day at work or and continue to think about it.  Did I do well enough? Am I going to get fired when I get in the next morning?  It all adds to bad feelings and an unclear mind.

The last few days at work have been hard.  Emergency rush jobs have pushed off the normal work and a special project.  I have also been covering for someone who has been sick.  It’s all there I can anticipate all the things that will be coming tomorrow and the stuff I didn’t get to today.  Then I come home and remember that I have to write a blog.  look at all that stress causing things!

Then sitting on the couch watching some mindless TV to calm my head I realize that I am stressed and can use it for my blog!  I can complain about my day and teach people a thing I do to fight stress. Are you ready?

Just don’t believe in it.

I know it is not that simple.  And it is more challenging for some people than others.  But think about it.  You are off work.  There is nothing you can do about it right now.  So enjoy that time.  Shake it off and do something you like.  Change your environment.  When those thoughts enter your head say “Nope” and sing a song from Monty Python or Weird Al.

One of the reasons I took on the challenge of 40 blogs in 30 days (this is day 3) instead of NaNoWriMo is that, unlike a novel, I can forget about what I wrote  in the blog yesterday and start fresh every day.

Just remember, obsessing about work while not working will hurt your work performance.  It’s not worth it.  Let it go.

Thoughts on Stuff

Every time I have tried to explain how I see things and how I derived my theories on life, the universe, and everything it fails.  I may be able to cover one theory and how it effects my thinking but it never covers everything.  It is a worthy endeavor but cannot truly be done.

So instead here is a list of beliefs, rules I try to live by, and answers to many questions I have had over my life.  By doing this I hope to get past the need to explain how I get to a point I am trying to make in my writing and just get to the point.  You may find some wisdom here but manly this is for me.  I do not succeed at all of these at all times not do I expect others too. I hope you enjoy and get something out of this.

No one sees themselves as the villain in their own story

As a realist I can only be an optimist

3 Rules I live by:
1. Make yourself happy
2. Make other people happy
3. Be remembered

I do not have all the answers.

Live life with honor and without regret.

I will be wrong and that is wonderful

If I get it right on the first try I am not pushing myself hard enough

“You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, not look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books. You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me, you shall listen to all sides and filter them from yourself.” ― Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

“Be excellent to everybody” – Bill S. Preston

Leave everything better than when you came

Don’t just fight the battles you can win, fight the battles worth fighting for.

No person can know what’s in another’s heart.

It matters more what you do than what you believe.

Never blame your failures on others but always thank them for your success.

The future will be unimaginably amazing.

You can’t change things without understanding why things are the way the are

Reality changes when the perception of that reality changes.

All opinions and non-violent expressions of those opinions are valid.

Respect the person who fights for their beliefs as you’d wish to be respected for yours, even when they are wrong.

Ideas and beliefs can be evil, people are just people

Everyone knows something I can learn from.

Don’t give up, move on.

The worth of a person is not related to one’s wealth or standing or name.

Hate is not for directing at people, it’s for foods and music genres.

When you think your people are chosen or saved you will naturally act like people who aren’t chosen or saved are lesser people, lesser humans.

There are no “Other” people we are all people.

Everyone should work customer service for at least six months, people would learn how much being a jerk effects other people.

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

Hurting others is always wrong.

No one deserves to die

“Don’t dream it, be it” – RHPS

Doing wrong for the right reasons is still wrong

There is always another perspective

If you look for something you will find it.  Especially when its looking for a reason that validates your actions.

Labeling others as an argument against their opinions is lazy and ineffective

If you only listen to those who agree with you, you will stay ignorant of ways to further your ideals.

Slippery slope is not an argument. “You’d die if you ate only ice cream” is not an argument for never having ice cream.

When you don’t know how to end something just say “Thank You.”



Orlando Shooting: First Thoughts

Some days are hard and some are collectively hard.  Today was one of them.  I heard the news when I woke up and the count was 20.  I checked out of my hotel room at Fargo CoreCon, wrapped up the goodbyes and got in my car for the four-hour drive in back to the Twin Cities.  I turned on MPR to get the news and the total was 50.  The biggest mass shooting in American History.

I listened the whole way back.  Getting more and more details as they trickled out.  I got annoyed when they talked about the political fallout that may come from it and shed some tears listening to recounts of the horror.

Then I heard about the mile-long lines outside blood donation centers.  Businesses donating and handing out food and water to those in line.  The head of the GLBT community center who said he cried his last tear for today at 8 AM when people came in to help in any way they could.  Donations poured in and they had unlimited supplies of food and water all donated.

I started thinking about Boston Strong after that horrible incident, Occupy Sandy lugging food and water up 20 flights of stairs to makes sure homebound people didn’t die in buildings without power. It’s how we respond that makes us human.

After a crisis we respond and help. When we fall we help people get back up.  We stop the bickering and constant dehumanizing talking points and come together.  The why waits while we as a society make sure that those who are doing the lifesaving and caretaking have everything they need.   When it counts human nature is strong and caring.

I have seen too many of these in my life.  But while every great tragedy hardens my heart, my soul is healed when I widen my gaze from the tragedy itself.   Like in life society has its low points but every time we get up we come out stronger on the other side.

The Hunt has Begun

I know I am behind on posting here. Mostly because I’m job hunting and when I am doing that my free time my mind does not want to be writing and editing. It needs to concentrate on things that mean nothing to my real life. Thus me going back to attempt to finish Dark Souls 2. My saved game from a year ago was lost so had to start over. #FirstWorldProblems

Other things to update: Weight holding steady. Celebrated my Grandma’s 95 Birthday. A new video project with friends is in the works. Played a little pickup soccer and I still have some skills but my knees are not happy with me. Had an amazing Friday night with a friend of mine that deserves its own post. My nieces are enjoying Star Wars for the first time and it’s cool as heck.