Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Neo-Nazi Affiliated League of the South Is Following Vermont's Secessionist Media Formula a.k.a. The Path to Obscurity

For the past seven years Vermont's secession movement has suffered setback after setback. From the exposure of its ties to the neo-Confederate League of the South in the winter of 2007, to the collapse of its media distribution deal with Seven Days that spring, to the revelations about its phony polling claims of more than 60,000 Vermont voters (13%) supporting secession, to further revelations about its hate bloggers at its publication, Vermont Commons, support for segregation, southern (read: white) nationalism, expansion of institutional racism, anti-Semitism, publishing at neo-Confederate and Holocaust denial journals and über crazy conspiracy theories, to the 2010 election where more than 99% of Vermonters voted for someone other than the secesher gubernatorial candidate, to the folding of their VTCommons hate journal, to abysmal sales of their book, and, finally, the death of their angry, hateful founder, the Dixie singin' Thomas H. Naylor. The duty of guiding the secesher Titanic to the bottom has fallen to the Second Vermont Republic's spokesdouchenozzle and Thomas Naylor's Renfield, Rob Williams.

It's been fascinating to watch the capacity for denialism amongst the Vermont seceshers. For years supporters, some more so than others, have been drifting away. Early on, John McClaughry and Bill McKibben (yes, that Bill McKibben) caught the scent of Naylor and Williams' allies and hit the road fast. Founder Ian Baldwin lost the support of his family and he too has moved away. Flack Shay Totten got burned by Naylor and has also moved onto other things. Even UVM professor, Frank fucking Bryan, who wrote the original Vermont Secession Book with Bill Mares, threw in the secesher towel. At the heart of this demise was the media strategy pursued by Naylor and Williams. For several years team Naylor-Williams spun yarns for a willing national press that was always on the lookout for a quirky Vermont story. That began to unravel when the Southern Poverty Law Center published this piece in 2008. On the heels of that damaging piece, Naylor pivoted and threw his LoSer allies under their own bus.

This week revealed a similar media naivety on the part of the group that precipitated SVR's logroll to the bottom, the League of the South. You see, not unlike small scale media stunts perpetrated by Naylor and Williams over the years, the LoS has mounted poorly attended demonstrations this year. They've jettisoned the flag of the confederacy that they'd clung to as a symbol of their neo-Confederacy for twenty years in favor of a new, more sinister flag based on the old one except that the Stars & Bars have been replaced by a solid black crossed stripe. They've capped this media mess off by contracting for short terms a couple of billboards, one in Florida and one in Alabama. The one in Alabama was only up for a day when pressure from larger billboard advertisers forced the renter, Lamar Advertising, to pull the plug on the amateurish effort. The billboard was dominated by the word "SECEDE" while including at the bottom the LoSers name and the URL of their hatesite.

The LoSers like neo-Nazi Michael Cushman have been trying desperately to make a silk purse out of this sow's ear by claiming to have received more coverage than they could have paid for. Fact is, the "coverage" is primarily AP digital filler that most news sites only link to rather than reproduce in their print publications. Really, it's the digital equivalent of lint. Spe-lunk-ing nails'em here. Alabama's regional press service, al.com, has a more rational assessment of the true state of affairs at the League of the South here, courtesy of the premier tracker of hate groups, the Southern Poverty Law Center.

As an example of the LoS media savviness (not!) I'm attaching this vid that they put up. Please note how this "southern nationalist" pronounces secede at the 0:41 mark here. It's this sort of malapropism that drove that nasty old bastard Naylor crazy

And if I could suggest to Harold Crews how he might improve the production values of his efforts on Youtube, put your teeth in the next time, bumpkin. You might then escape the secesher embarrassment of pronouncing "secede" as "succeed."

Snork!

UPDATE: 5/21/14 1:30 PM This editorial from the Montgomery Advertiser:
Secession Billboard Provides Lesson

"The fact that it was ever there at all is troubling, but it is nonetheless gratifying to see that the billboard on I-85 in Montgomery reading "Secede" didn't stay there long. An 1860s message is hardly what our city and state should be seeing nearly 150 years after Appomattox.

Please spare us the baseless arguments about free speech and censorship. They don't apply.

The billboard was placed by the League of the South, an organization that has advocated secession for years and — in the words of its president, Michael Hill — seeks "a free and independent South."


However, despite the hopes and dreams of the organization, this is America, and the league is free to hold such views. As repugnant as we find those views, we would defend the league's right to espouse them.

The league doubtless had no such intention, but it has provided a teaching moment. The quick removal of the one-word billboard provides a valuable lesson in what the Constitution protects and what it does not.

Had a government entity caused the removal of the billboard, there would have been a legitimate free speech issue and claims of censorship would have had credence. The government is not empowered to halt the expression of views it finds objectionable.

But that what happened. A private-sector entity, the billboard company, made the decision. Other customers — again, private-sector entities — did not want to be associated with the league's message and made that clear to the company.

The league is free to call for secession without any fear of government reprisal, but individuals and entities in the private sector have the same rights of expression and association. They can choose not to associate with a company doing business with the league, to take their business elsewhere or to otherwise express their disagreement with the views of the league.

No rights were violated. The free speech protections of the Constitution offer a priceless shield against official suppression, but not against the exercise of freedoms in the private sector.

That's not splitting hairs; that's a fundamental distinction that rests at the very heart of American liberty."
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