Silence And Inaction At Dandelion Run
To the Editor:
In a defensive response to being criticized for his silence and inaction, race director Phil White has sited his experience as a former prosecutor but may be confused about our rights and the law. Let me be clear, I never suggested that Adam Page be criminally sanctioned for his constitutionally protected decision to wear a racist tattoo. I simply demanded that he not be given special access to promote hatred and violence at an event organized by Phil White, that I paid to attend.
What Mr White forgot to mention about the first amendment of our Constitution is this: It is settled law, decided over decades and numerous SCOTUS decisions, that we have NO first amendment related constitutional right to liable, slander, false advertising, sedition or to tell people to commit an act of violence. We are not legally free to shout “fire!” in a crowded theater, to incite people to riot or to instigate a fight purposefully with “fighting words.” Considering private institutions and organizations, like Kingdom games and the Dandelion Run, there is much more room to wed access to behavior. People are legally asked to leave church if they swear; the grocery store won’t let you in without wearing a shirt and the VT State police only recently removed their ban on tattoos of any kind on new recruits.
It was well within Mr White’s power to see that a racist image promoting violence was covered up at his event, or that the owner of the image leave. I hope the next public statement that Phil White makes is an apology for his silence and inaction and a written commitment of future Kingdom games events to disallow racist, hateful images or any promotion of violence. Maybe he could tell us why he chose not to even look at the tattoo or talk to the owner when I made it clear that I felt offended and threatened. Mr White and Mr Page made it clear in their communications that they value their own comfort highly. What of the rest of us?
Right now acts of racist violence are on the increase both nationally and in VT. We live in a country that was founded on human enslavement and where white people still frequently commit acts of violence with impunity. It is within this context that Mr White wrote “when one of us ends up in a ditch along the road, we don’t look at their tattoo, we stop and help them out. That is the VT way.” The actual, literal definition of a nightmare scenario for so many folks of color I know is exactly this: To be stuck in a ditch on the side of the road at night in rural VT and have someone with a racist tattoo stop to “help” you. Mr White’s insensitivity in this matter is astounding. His romantic view of VT is made possible by the fact that he doesn’t ever experience racial harassment and violence. I’m so glad this is possible for him - I only want to extend this simple privilege to everyone else. To many of us lifelong Vermonters it’s feeling more like North Alabama around here, no thanks to the comments and inaction of Mr White.
Please contact the Sponsors of the Dandelion Run and kingdom games to ask that they only support future events if there is a written pledge in the promotional materials to “disallow racist, bigoted messages, as well as promotions of violence, from being displayed by participants at their events”. Cover up your hate or don’t attend.
Some of these sponsors include Kingdom Games, Burke MTN, Barr Hill, Community National Bank, Jay Peak, Siskin Coutts and Run Reg. Thank you!