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Monday, June 18, 2007

Veterans Against The War
Excluded From Parade

Groucho Marx

Groucho Marx said
"I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member." I wonder of Groucho realized the Hegelianism magnitude and profundity of what he said?

On Saturday, June 16, an anti-war Veteran's group was refused permission to participate in a Virginia, Minnesota parade, the Land of The Loon Festival.

According to the AP Story:

    "Three weeks ago they told us we could be in their parade," said Gary Sorenson, president of the Duluth chapter of the national Veterans For Peace organization. "Then on Thursday someone called and said we were uninvited."

    Sorenson said the local chapter has about 30 members. The group planned to pull its float in the Land of The Loon Arts and Crafts Festival parade in Virginia, about an hour west of Duluth. The float has a banner that reads, "For the mothers, for the the soldier, for the planet, no more war." It's pulled by a truck with a sign that tallies the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq.

Sorenson and other members of the group did what all good whiners do when they don't get their way; they contacted the ACLU. Even better, Sorenson and his group learned a lesson. The ACLU told Sorenson that since the parade is sponsored by a private group, the organizers and sponsors have the right to exclude whomever they want from the parade.

I'm not against people or groups who choose to exercise their First Amendment Rights in protesting the War in Iraq or any other war or issue. I'm not against civil disobedience by people or groups who have contrarian messages. I'm not for any deliberate attempt to silence dissenting voices. But no one or group has the right to insert themselves in an environment or forum - in this case a parade - sponsored by a private organization, promoter or patron.

Unsubstantiated allegations were made that the local chapter of Veterans of Foreign Wars refused to march in the parade if Sorenson's group was included. Jerry Trunzo, commander of VFW Post 4456, denied any such claim. Sorenson countered that parade organizers didn't want anything "politically controversial" in the parade. Well...maybe, maybe not..."he said"/"she said". Yadda yadda.

The simple answer to Sorenson Veterans For Peace perceived faux-discrimination is obtaining a permit from the city and having their own anti-war/peace parade, nothing prevents him from doing so. But then what I suspect - his motive of causing and wanting to create controversy - is removed from the setting and receives little, if any, publicity.

Groucho, somewhere in the afterlife - probably puffing away on a big stogie and having a darn good time with his cohorts - must be looking down from the heavens wondering why any group would want to be part of a parade that doesn't want them.


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