We’re all stars now in the dope show

The January 7 episode of “Trump: The Campaign” in Burlington “has stirred turmoil among Vermonters,” or so the Burlington Free Press informs me.

Well, lemme do a quick check… no… nope… sorry, no turmoil here. Annoyance is all I got.

Annoyance at the idea of Trump as a successful candidate, and annoyance that some of us are auditioning for bit parts in Trump’s ongoing performance piece.

Look, why do you suppose he’s coming here? It’s not for votes. I’m sure he’ll frame it as evidence of his bravery — bringing his truthiness to Ground Zero of Bernie Sanders socialism. And if he gets some nice juicy conflict with some stereotypical dirty hippies, then so much the better.

You think he won’t enjoy the spectacle of anti-Trump demonstrations in City Hall Park? You think he won’t be happier than a pig in shit if protesters get into the hall and try to disrupt the proceedings? You think Fox News won’t lovingly repeat the footage for hours in end?

If the Vermont Workers’ Center or Rising Tide Vermont wants to accept a walk-on role in “Trump: The Campaign,” then they can go right ahead. But they should know that they’re playing Trump’s game on Trump’s turf.

(By the way, VWC is floating a petition asking the Flynn Center to cancel the event because Trump is “an affront to our values as residents of Burlington.” Great, but I have a question: Is free speech one of those values? I guess only within VWC’s parameters of acceptable discourse.

On the other hand, State Senator Joe Benning needs to brush up on his vocabulary. He called VWC’s petition a “bullying tactic.” No; it’s stupid, but it’s not bullying. “Bullying” requires a power dynamic. In order to bully someone, you have to have an advantage over them, real or perceived. The VWC cannot possibly, except in its wildest dreams, “bully” Donald Trump.)

Gubernatorial candidate Sue Minter has a nice suggestion: celebrate January 7 as a day of service and generosity. I’d go for that. And Thursday night, I’d suggest gathering in your favorite watering hole and raising a glass of real Vermont beer in a toast to good old common sense. There won’t be much of that in or near the Flynn Center.


16 thoughts on “We’re all stars now in the dope show

  1. Sen. Joe Benning

    John: I agree the VWC cannot bully Donald Trump, but their petition isn’t aimed at Donald Trump. They are aiming at the director of the Flynn Center, John Killacky. The Flynn’s survival depends on support from all of us, no matter what our political differences or personal tastes. The petition’s supporters are suggesting the power of the purse should be used to register unhappiness. I submit any implication that financial support will be impacted if you don’t limit your speakers/performers to only those we like is indeed a bullying tactic. I suspect Director Killacky is feeling that power imbalance right now.

    1. John S. Walters Post author

      I take your point, but I don’t see how the Vermont Workers Center will have any measurable impact on Flynn Center fundraising. The people who keep that ship afloat aren’t going to be swayed by a small group of far-left hotheads.

    2. Faith King

      Nah. Incorrect. The VWC is exercising their free speech, too. they have every right to express strong displeasure to an area business who is ‘fronting’ (and profiting shamelessly from) a “candidate” such as Mr. Trump. They can express, they can say “hey, Flynn, we may use the power of OUR collective purses to voice our displeasure and not buy tickets to Flynn shows” and the Flynn management can respond. Or not. That’s the marketplace of ideas, baby. Nobody has to quietly tolerate something offensive and extremely objectionable in their community. People certainly CAN sit home and listen to VPR, blog, or go out for a cozy Heady-Topper or local hamburger, all while peacefully checking their handheld’s, perhaps chuckling complacently at both Trump and those who would protest Trump…but they don’t have to. Hey, Joe, if you haven’t noticed, wealthy Americans (both individuals and businesses) use their power of the purse to express ideas and effect change all the time! As a matter of fact, that kind of “free speech” – the wealthy folks kind – (which looks oddly like corruption in other countries) was awarded the gold star of constitutional protection not that long ago by the Supreme Court. Funny when the non-wealthy go to use their dollar power (that of the consumer) they’re called bullies. And John, I’d respectfully suggest that liberals not turn their little circular firing squad stools and take aim at the VWC (by suggesting their opposition to the Flynn hosting Trump is taking us down that scary, slippery slope of lefty political correctness). No, opposing Trump receiving a forum at the Flynn does NOT mean that next the VWC will don their Maoist hats and tell us all how to think. Trump is in a whole, new category. Perhaps we can vanquish the old, False Equivalency Argument in 2016? That would be nice.

      1. Dave Katz

        The vulgar talking yam is using protesters as schtick–last night in Lowell, Massachusetts, in the Paul Tsongas Memorial Arena–Holy irony, Batman!– the yam was heard grunting, “Get ’em out! Get ’em out!” as the massed security, both public and private, rousted protesters at least five times. To the cheers of the crowd.
        Don’t feed that yam, people. He’s using you as props.

    3. newzjunqie

      Hopefully he laughs it off as the joke that it is. VWC not all that powerful, nothing more than a society really & don’t have alot of numbers. Despite antics and position statements they pump out in press releases. Amount to little more than a ‘presence’ so really the joke’s on them, so hahaha.

  2. Kevin J Kelley

    Sommes-nous tous Charlie?


    “Sadly, free speech has always been under fire; even in America, where the First Amendment is enshrined in our Constitution, unpopular or inconvenient expression has been suppressed again and again. The unending nature of the struggle for this most fundamental of rights makes the death of Charb — and the message he’s left us in this pamphlet — likely to be of enduring importance. Heaven knows he doesn’t speak for everyone. But he died for all of us.”

  3. Norm Etkind

    There can only be one reason why the Trumpeter is coming to Vermont – – and that is to stir up more ego inflating, free press stimulating, recognition of him.

    The thing the Trumpeter would hate more than anything would be if his coming to Vermont was ignored.

  4. John A. Burgess, Sr.

    One of the few things now going on in politics which I find more offensive than Mr. Trump’s ideas is the idea that he might be denied the right to exercise his First Amendment right to speak.

    1. Faith Biggs King

      The First Amendment constrains the government and it’s related offices, agencies, etc from making any law abridging the freedom of speech. Whether or not the Flynn hosts or doesn’t host Trump is not a “First Amendment” matter. Plain and simple. The constitution does not regulate the actions of the Flynn. People can and do, every day, have the freedom to invite people to talk – or not. If I told Trump he was not welcome to give a speech in my house, I would not be violating his First Amendment rights,. If Mr. Trump was denied a request to speak on the State House lawn, that would be another story. It’s an important distinction for many reasons,; and one which too few people make. Some 20+ years ago, a group of conservative Catholics picketed a movie theater in Boston that was showing a film they didn’t like (Hail, Mary), I think the theater yanked the film, People wailed this was a “first amendment issue”. Poor theology? Yes. Limited imagination? Most certainly. But not a constitutional issue.

  5. Paula Schramm

    I don’t see this as a free speech issue – I feel that Trump is free to talk on any street corner in Burlington he wants, or to publish his most cherished ideas or put-downs in any publication he wants to market ( a la Charlie Hebdo ). The media will certainly tell us all about whatever he has to say in every paper & on every channel, no ? I think the issue is what “act” do you want to have on your stage ? Surely the Flynn is always deliberating which shows & events will be successful in Burlington, and which will be something the community wants, in a positive sense. I’m not sure, but I don’t think a theater is a business which MUST rent its space to ANYONE who has the cash ? Do you HAVE to rent your stage to a Klu Klux Clan convention ? I’m not against politicians of any party speaking to people that want to hear them….. but when Trump started saying he wouldn’t let anyone of a major world religion enter our country ( “until we figure out what’s going on “), something just snapped in me. Instead of ” Muslims “, try substituting “Jews ” in this line of his. If no one ever listened to him, that’s one thing. But for someone that has a Huuuje forum, practically 24/7 coverage of anything he does, and with growing crowds cheering his pathetic, but very hateful and divisive words, I just don’t think everyone has to give him that stage if they feel some strong ethical qualms about what he is saying. Jus’ sayin’

  6. Linda Maloney

    My recommendation (sorry I’m in California so can only do this vicariously: get as many tickets to the event as you can lay your hands on. Go in, “reserve” your seat(s) with some piece of clothing you’re ready to discard, then leave and go join the peace rally in City Hall Park. Nothing speaks our contempt for Trump’s misuse of his rights as an American louder than an empty auditorium for which — I assume — he’s paying rent. Which reminds me: how is it that the opportunity for “free” speech is reserved for those with the money to pay for a venue (or TV spot, etc.)? — while the rest of us have to do our speaking outdoors in the frigid weather?

    1. John S. Walters Post author

      It’s not a bad idea. If the shoe was on the other foot — say, Bernie Sanders was holding a rally with advance tickets required and conservatives snarfed up the tickets — would you feel the same?

      1. Linda Maloney

        Wouldn’t work, of course, because Bernie’s supporters would be outside and he would go out and talk to them. He’s not about publicity to the exclusion of reality.

  7. Dave Katz

    Well, the brownshirts vs. the redshirts. How totally Weimar. A melee between fascist peckerwoods and bearded revolutionaries would quite make for compelling TV, for sure.

    The Talking Yam’s(h/t CPP) base can’t be much more whipped into a froth anyway, so why not go to the Flynn and get in a few kicks and punches for the fun of it? Besides, given a VWC presence on the ground, at least no black protesters and/or reporters will likely be set upon by the mob while The Yam spurts forth incitement from the podium.

    Of course, The Yam wouldn’t be The Brand if the press actually behaved like, well, a functioning press ought to–viz. David Cay Johnston, f’r instance?

    The media’s whorish capitulation and complicity in The Brand(TM)is a foregone conclusion. They got all the the lipstick and The Yam brought the pig.

  8. newzjunqie

    I don’t see how Flynn could justify refusing to host his event, he would have just gone somewhere else.

    We are a nation of free speech, when we start picking and choosing based on political leanings it is a form of tyrrany. Is it ok if rightwingers reject the leftists?

    Completely ignoring this complete idiot with a fourth grade vocabulary would send the most powerful message. Complete silence is control, even if all seats were filled, sitting in silence packs the biggest punch. Outrage while not exactly wrong, if not targeted is unproductive. We are being baited as lala-land leftists. Looks like the majority will reflexively react by taking the bait in one form or another – *sigh*.


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