Protest? Self-aggrandizing event is not news

By on May 20, 2015

The Kill Devil Hills Police Department has received a request from a Kansas-based organization to stage a demonstration the morning of June 1 across the street from First Flight High School.

Stage is precisely the correct term.

Social media lit up Wednesday when a letter surfaced from a lawyer for the organization described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “hate group” and “a family-based cult of personality built around its patriarch.”

The letter was addressed to Police Chief Gary Britt, and it asked that the group be allowed to protest along the road in front of the school before classes begin.

Commentary

“They have to apply for a permit to hold the protest,” said Deputy Chief Dana Harris. “We are sending them an application, a copy of the town code on demonstrations, which they have to read over and sign, and also a copy of the town noise ordinance which has to be signed.”

A similar request has been made in Elizabeth City for the morning of Sunday, May 31 outside First Baptist Church, First United Methodist Church, Christ Episcopal Church and Holy Family Catholic Church.

This is as far as the Voice plans to go with its coverage.

We feel that even using the group’s name, let alone interviewing a member of the organization to speak on its plans, only gives them the attention they seek for their message.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects, guarantees and celebrates their right to share their message in a public setting such as a sidewalk along a busy street.

It also protects, guarantees and celebrates the right we have to provide you with coverage of important matters of the day to our neighbors here on the Outer Banks in the public medium that is the Internet.

That same First Amendment does not compel us, or require us, to share the message of a group that in the end only wants attention. It also doesn’t compel you, or require you, to respond in kind when they hold up signs or shout slogans.

If more media organizations would choose not use their names or publish pictures or promote their message, there might be a lot fewer groups like this. But it’s a sure thing that the sound bites, the false drama and the click bait will be too much to resist when June 1 rolls around.

We understand it is hard to see and hear someone make statements about people or groups we care about. But to respond to their taunts is only legitimizing their statements in their minds.

Take away the attention and notoriety they crave, and need, to survive, then maybe they will fade into obscurity.

“He who shall not be named.”

That’s how it was handled in the Harry Potter series of books and movies, and eventually the evil lord was defeated.

Thanks J.K. Rowling. That’s how we plan to handle it as well.



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