Sunday, July 19, 2015


Any Aggrieved Party

Netroots Leadership, through your inaction in relinquishing control of the stage and the agenda not only betrays the spirit of democratic exchange of ideas it disrespects your invitees. You've taught a doubly bad lesson. 

I have more than 20 years experience producing special events, public events, concerts and festivals and I was shocked when I heard about the mismanagement on display if what I've heard actually took place at yesterday's Netroots Nation CONVENTION.

I understand (please correct me if I'm wrong) well meaning activists took over the stage and drove presenters away. Through your inaction you have announced that you are not a responsible party managing a serious political event. You are simply cavalier amateur who invited a bunch of angry people together with no adult in-charge and no one taking responsibility for security or order. This is a recipe for disaster. You may have gotten an inkling that you are irresponsible amateurs playing with mob-dynamite.

You have placed a billboard over your event, stating "Any Aggrieved Party" is free to take the stage and disrupt this poor excuse for a political convention. Your denial of responsibility has set back the progressive movement decades.

The fact that these particular protestors have a valid greivance and that the speakers who were disrupted were invited to speak to a admittedly diverse audience, with a wide range of opinion does nothing to mitigate the dangerous precedent set and the terrible decisions made to permit the stage to be over-run.

I understand the dynamics and discomfort activist leaders face when they are called upon to challenge or channel righteous indignation. The bottom line is this. If you produce public events you must accept the responsibilities that are inherent in staging an event. If you fail to appreciate the inherent dangers and difficulty you have no business producing even a birthday party.

When control, and security is dissipated and the agenda is handed off to the mob, no matter how well intentioned, disaster is the only possible result. Let's leave aside, the failure of protestors to respect the design of the event. (Every event depends on a modicum of civility) If activists refuse to understand the purpose of dialogue and dispense with alliance building then they don't belong on a convention stage.  Activists sometime value disruption for disruptions sake. These activists fail to comprehend the necessity of coalition building. They should be shunned until they mature politically. Regardless how counter productive their disruption was and what damage they are doing to potential alliances, they did what some activists always do, behave counter-productively. I reserve my criticism for the activists who undertook to produce this event and failed.

When you throw your hands up on stage security, and hand off the agenda to any microphone hog, you have given up any control over both safety and security. You have just taught the world, that any handful of disruptors, inside or outside the progressive movement, not only that you have no stomach for the necessary security that produces a safe event, but your agenda is available for hi-jacking.

Next time whether its Wall Street Bankers, Animal Rights Activists, or Militant Librarians , you have taught the any aggrieved party may take the stage and there are no adults in the room. 

You have shown just how easy any small group of disruptors, the foolish, the delusional or the mercenary, that the visual takes precedence over substance and you hold no responsibility to control even the stage much less the activity inside your event. 

There is a moral responsibility when you invite four or more into a space and present an agenda. 
You undertake to produce not just a room of chairs and a portable stage and sound equipment, but you undertake a public safety responsibility that you shirk not only at your expense but you place every life of your attendees at risk.

I have had to disarm a gun toting rock star, require a world class performing duo evacuate a stage, and stop a show, that would otherwise place performers and bystanders at risk. I hope the next NETROOTS events is produced by a more serious and responsible team, because allowing a small disruptive group to take the stage and prevent invited speakers from making their speeches is not the work of mature leadership. And nearly as important these political figures could have become allies instead of victims.

So far free speech, was the only victim. No small disaster there. But human lives are placed in danger when an event goes off the rails. Its not just democracy that took a body blow. Human safety was compromised when responsibility was ignored. Absentee-LEADERSHIP  of this conference placed thousands of lives at risk. This must be understood. If not it will be at the peril of the Progressive Movement.  
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