On March 3, 2000, I received the following letter in my email. (No, it was not directed to me personally, but to Mel's mailing list.) The reason Mel felt the need to write is clear (he feels he's been spammed). Whether he is making the "right" decision is up to each individual reader.
Rev Mel States and Explains His Position on Dr. Laura and Paramount
Sisters and Brothers,
During the last 24 hours, I've received endless requests to email Paramount about Dr. Laura . And though I congratulate each one of your for your willingness to speak out against her dangerous rhetoric, here's why I can't join your in your campaign…at least not yet.
My understanding of the nonviolent methods of Gandhi and King tell me that the current blitzkrieg of phone, fax, and email messages to Kerry McCluggage, Paramount's Chairman, and the threat of confronting him and his senior executives at their homes and favorite restaurants around Los Angeles are acts of violence against them.
The goal of violence is to triumph over our adversary by any means possible. This campaign risks being perceived as an attempt to bully Paramount into doing our will by brute@strength. In the long haul, we risk doing our community more harm than good.
Gandhi and King call us to a better way. Nonviolence has no losers. Our goal is reconciliation, to turn our enemy into a friend, to create a nation where Dr. Laura, Paramount, and the GLBT community can "live as good neighbors."
That demanding process begins by attempting to negotiate a peaceful settlement of our grievances.
Which of you has monitored Dr. Laura long enough to document your own case against her? Which of you has presented your case to Dr. Laura in person with the hope of changing her mind and heart? Which of you took time to meet with the executives at Paramount to explain calmly and quietly why Dr. Laura's rhetoric leads to suffering and death?
Those are steps required for legitimate negotiation before any kind of direct action should take place.
Joan Garry and her colleagues at GLAAD carefully documented a case against Dr. Laura's rhetoric. They presented their case in person to Dr. Laura on two different occasions, hoping to win her friendship and support. When it appeared obvious that Dr. Laura was not about to change, GLAAD asked for a meeting with Paramount's Chairman McCluggage to show their case against Dr. Laura and to make three demands. He agreed to meet. (For background see GLAAD AND DR.LAURA)
First, GLAAD asked Paramount to enforce a "no tolerance policy" against anti-GLBT rhetoric on the new Dr. Laura television program. Second, they warned Paramount that Dr. Laura's "authorities" were bogus and asked Paramount to insist that Dr. Laura consider all the evidence. Third, they demanded that Dr. Laura's program include other voices to speak in our defense.
Chairman McCluggage and an impressive group of Paramount executives met with the people of GLAAD. After the meeting they promised to deliver on the last two demands, but requested more time with Dr. Laura to convince her to enforce a "no tolerance policy" against her anti-GLBT rhetoric. Paramount also agreed to a second meeting with GLAAD.
Before that meeting could convene, the email blitzkrieg began. Mr. McCluggage was negotiating in good faith; and for his trouble, our community has demonized him, threatened him, and effectively closed down his professional and personal means of communication. (It's a tactic used often against us by our adversaries on the 'religious right.')
You know that I am determined to help end the false and inflammatory rhetoric from Dr. Laura and from all her new friends like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. That's what Soulforce, Inc. is all about. But this is not the way to end it, at least not the way to end it nonviolently.
Please, stop your email, fax, and phone campaign…at least for now. Let GLAAD continue their negotiations with Paramount. If Paramount refuses to negotiate or breaks its promises to GLAAD, then more negotiations are called for.
Only when you know there is no hope to negotiate a settlement should you plan a massive direct action; and then that action is not to bully or coerce but to demonstrate our sincerity and our moral courage to Dr. Laura and the people of Paramount.
In the meantime, don't spam me either. I'm on your side, remember. If you want to see why I'm against this campaign in detail, just click on Soulforce Check out the Four Step Journey into Soulforce. Step Four summarizes the rules for nonviolent negotiation and direct action from the lives of Gandhi and King.
Or if you want to see how a nonviolent direct action works, join us on March 24 in a civil disobedience on Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles at the Fox Family Channel headquarters. The history of our negotiations with Robertson and Fox and the steps leading up to this nonviolent direct action can be found at Beware the Fox.
If you decide to join us, and we hope you do, taking the Four Step Journey into Soulforce (Step One) and signing a pledge to nonviolence is required for all marchers.
I'm gay. I'm proud. And God loves me (and you) without reservation! AMEN!
Mel White, Co-Chair, Soulforce, Inc.
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