Thursday, July 28, 2011

BAR: Mark Leno Zapped
by Anti-Circumcision Activists

(Tina Kimmel, holding sign, confronts state Sen. Mark Leno. Credit: Rick Gerharter, BAR.)
There is no evidence that I can find showing that career Democratic gay politician Mark Leno has ever held a town hall meeting. I've taken him to task for this dereliction of democratic duty, and pointed out that President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton very often host public forums where questioners are not pre-screened. If they can regularly meet with the public, why can't Leno?

The answer may be he's fearful of having to debate and defend his views, or just doesn't like to be challenged by constituents. Whatever the reason, I'm very pleased to see that he was recently zapped in public by anti-circumcision activists. Leno more than deserves such a zap.

From a Bay Area Reporter story today written by Heather Cassell:

A handful of proponents of the anti-circumcision ballot measure that is set for November's election disrupted a July 21 news conference announcing state legislation that might halt the proposition before San Franciscan residents have a chance to vote on it. ...

The proposition, which qualified for the ballot in May, seeks to criminalize anyone practicing circumcision on boys under the age of 18 within San Francisco. Violations would result in a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $1,000 or imprisonment in county jail for up to one year, or both. ...

Last week, Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), who was joined by Speaker Pro Tempore Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco) and state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), announced a bill that would hand oversight of male circumcision to the state, pre-empting local jurisdictions from enacting local regulations or bans. ...

Protesters, many of whom call themselves "intactivists," converged on Leno, an out gay legislator who joined the bill as a principal co-author on the Senate side, prior to the start of the press conference. Agitated, they closed in on Leno as he calmly listened and began to debate the protesters until Ma began the news conference.

The protesters hovered over the elected officials throughout the news conference as they stood at a podium in front of the clinic. They held large signs with pictures of babies asking, "You're going to cut off what?" among other slogans.

Police officers attempted to move the protesters back on the sidewalk next to the clinic, but they continued to crowd the legislators. Gatto politely asked the demonstrators to move away from the podium reminding them it was the lawmakers' press conference.

Wait just a minute here. Why were the cops trying to restrict the protesters free speech rights on the public sidewalk outside the clinic? Must be because the politicians didn't like being challenged and thought the press conference organizers had more rights than the activists. More from the BAR:

Unsatisfied, the protesters continued to pressure the legislators to answer their questions, attempted to debate the issue, and requested a public debate throughout the event. Several times, police officers requested the demonstrators to refrain from disrupting the event. ...

A public debate with Leno? That's a laugh because the last thing he wants on any issue, gay or otherwise, is a spirited public debate.

He'd much rather appear at Sacramento hearings he controls, or photo-ops where he receives a worthless award and applause, or news conferences where cops intimidate folks who don't like his political views.

And what is with this b.s. by the San Francisco police officers several times attempting to silence anyone? I wonder if they did that on their own or were instructed by the officials holding the presser to intervene.

Memo to Leno: Stop being such a sissy about debates and public forums. Develop a thick skin and some debating skills that don't require the police to bully your opponents to shut up because you don't like their message. Hold regular town halls already!

A big bravo to the intactivists for zapping Leno and standing up to the bullies in blue.

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