Olympia, WA (5-10-14) — Last year, Law & Disorder (L&D), an anarchist ‘organization’, held a conference at Portland State University (PSU). During the 2 day event consisting of lectures, workshops, and tabling by assorted r@dical groups, 2 women from Deep Green Resistance (DGR), a fundamentally extreme environmental collective (which also includes r@dical feminists who do not believe transgender women (men) are truly men, but are persons still tainted by being born male along with the presumed white male privilege of patriarchy in the U.S.) were assaulted by 2 men for tabling literature from DGR. The men found the literature obnoxious because DGR refuses to accept gender benders as ‘women’ in its circle. Once a man, always a man seems to be DGR’s mantra. What that has to do with the environment, their main draw, is anybody’s guess.
The ‘men’ not only assaulted the 2 DGR women, but defaced their literature. None of the men (there were many) who witnessed this incident did anything to defend the women being attacked. In fact, no one did, not even the organizers, either during the incident or after–just the opposite. They rewarded the assailants by lionizing them and condoning their actions. One man who did try to speak up for the 2 victims had food and trash hurled at his head. Nor did he receive any assistance or an apology from the organizers.
The following excerpt dealing with the incident was taken from L&D’s blog (http://lawandisorder.wordpress.com/inclusivity), their version of a ‘safer space’ policy. Of course, it’s nothing of the kind, just the opposite. Rather than remedying a dangerous environment by defending the civil rights of all attendees, the organizers head in the opposite direction, digging the hole they find themselves in deeper. But, the Greeks once believed when the gods want to punish us, they grant our wishes. This year finds the L&D Conference neck deep in controversy for hosting Kristian Williams, a renowned and prolific author, scholar, as well as self described anarchist. Williams is well researched and above all, rational to a fault. His logic is not buried in academic/theoretical jargon, nor histrionics or emotional hysteria, but makes sense even to the untutored. It is serenely persuasive.
Williams published an essay, “The Politics Of Denunciation” which some r@dical feminists in Portland took exception to for suggesting, as it did, that serious allegations should bear up under serious scrutiny rather than being universally accepted within the ‘movement’ at face value. This set off a storm of howls from some r@dical feminists and gender benders who took the most extreme umbrage a man they characterized (“smeared” many said) as a ‘rape apologist’ and who had egregiously injured ‘survivors’ by challenging their assertion their word should be accepted without question–always–was to be given space on a panel to share his insights. A little research revealed the root of the firestorm wasn’t rooted in “principle” so much as in personal angst and an agenda stemming from one party in particular feeling ostracized by some ancillary r@dical groups who had chosen to align themselves with the man ‘Carol Crow’ (her online name) had called out. The two erstwhile friends were now antagonists and onlookers were choosing sides.
All of the above is predictable when certain people try to make what purports to be a political movement their social outlet. It has, in fact, become more of a ‘scene’ than a movement as a result. What wasn’t as predictable (except by Kristian Williams) was how the L&D Conference itself would be labeled/tagged as a ‘rape apologist’ for refusing to disavow and deny Williams as it has done with DGR. Though Williams has never apologized for any rape or rapist, he did make penetrating observations about how a friend of his was literally shouted down at a public meeting when she attempted to bring some sanity to the impasse regarding how the internal accountability process of the group had been hijacked.
It was enough to make the harpies explode with anger, threatening to disrupt the 2014 L&D Conference and make Kristian Williams’ presence “Hell” for him and the organizers for hosting him at all. It was a script for a play instead of an essay if Williams had chosen to write “The Politics Of Denunciation” that way. Was life imitating ‘art’ or had Williams hit a nerve?
The L&D organizers, for their part, continued to feed the dogs of war raw meat. Their blog throws down the following gauntlet:
INCLUSIVITY [‘Safer Space’ Much?]
The Law & Disorder (L&D) Collective is taking steps to rectify the concerns that people have regarding the Deep Green Resistance (DGR) incident from our fourth conference last year in 2013. There is also contention that the Queer Students of Color Conference is taking place at PSU on the exact same days as this years 5th Annual Law & Disorder Conference May 9-11th 2014. Below is a list of things that we are doing to make the conference a safer space. Please feel free to e-mail us with questions, concerns as well as constructive ideas as to how we can make the conference more inclusive and a safer space: email@example.com
1) DGR and any of its members from any chapter are not welcome at the Law & Disorder Conference in any capacity. In fact the PDX chapter self imploded due to the efforts of many courageous conference goers in 2013 and we are thankful for that. We are now requiring all persons, organizations, movements and collectives to register for tabling on our website to make sure that they are in line with our politics and Safer Space Policy. L&D has been in contact with the Queer Resource Center (QRC) since October 2013 regarding the coincidental and unintentional overlap with the two conferences. L&D has extended our resources to promote the Queer Students of Color Conference including outreach as well as space (rooms). We are intentionally not scheduling overlapping keynotes where possible.
The QRC has issued a public statement about this and can be seen here:https://www.facebook.com/QSOCC/posts/667688449964835
2) Folks have brought up issues related to the lack of gender neutral bathrooms and we are also looking into this under guidance of the QRC. There will be clearly posted maps of campus that have gender neutral bathrooms. It has not been a priority and has gone overlooked in the past. For this we sincerely apologize. We understand that using the bathroom is a human need, and human needs aren’t met if there’s not a place for people to safely use a bathroom.
3) We continue to have persons presenting on LGBTIQQAA issues and topics this year such as, but not limited to PFLAG who have participated and attended in the past. We are currently looking back over and revising our safer space policy and asking folks to help review/edit it. There is a link on our website that has the updated versions of the safer space policy as we are in process of revising and finalizing. A collective member is in the process of meeting with Portland queer and trans* community members to get feedback about the conference.
4) People want to know why it took a week for a statement to be released about the DGR incident. The only reason is organizational capacity. In other words the collective had to check in about what happened and drafted a solid collective statement as soon as possible. We apologize in the delay of releasing that statement but we did try to get it out as soon as we could. We also understand that people are unsatisfied with the statement and we apologize for this too and are attempting to take steps to rectify the situation. It is clear that there was not much action taken by L&D that are in-line with our safer space policy. And the conference organizers did not ask DGR to leave and so attendees felt unsafe, therefore many courageous attendees forced DGR to leave. Simultaneously L&D members started to become better informed of the issues by those attendees who took it upon themselves to kick them out and for that we are thankful.
5) L&D had issued a statement that was posted on our website within a week of the incident taking place. Please read below for the full statement. Issued in April 2013 after the 4th Annual Law & Disorder Conference: “The members of the organizing committee for this years 4th Annual Law & Disorder Conference 2013 would like to address matters regarding the conflict between members of Deep Green Resistance Portland (DGR-PDX) and other attendees/participants. Members of the L&D steering committee were unfamiliar with DGRs staunch transphobic tendencies. In the past few conferences we have not monitored our tabling but simply left out tables for people to set up in good hopes that we would not have discriminatory groups and that we would generally monitor for that as well as taking direction from our attendees. Whereas we had this problem this year with DGR-PDX we will not allow DGR-PDX to attend and will now monitor all tabling and will require all groups to sign up for tabling with registration where we can have groups commit to our updated safer space policy which will be up on our website soon! (lawandisorer.wordpress.com) We want to thank all members of the community that have informed and enlightened us as to DGR’s role in promoting transphobia as well as schooling us in proper sensitivity to LGBTIQQAA issues in general!! We deeply apologize to all that were triggered by DGR’s presence as well as demonstrations of hyper-masculine behaviors. ACCOUNTABILITY STATEMENT: Members of the L&D conference organizing committee hold ourselves accountable for allowing DGR to table at this years conference and denounce all statements and acts of transphobia taken on by DGR. A member of our steering committee was familiar with one of the members and had said that it was okay for them to table only with good intentions to allow a local group to share ideas about environmental activism not knowing of their rampant transphobia. All members of our collective were unaware of the rampant transphobia demonstrated by DGR and we denounce this. We will also update our safer space policy to be more fined tuned and specific to the role of discriminatory groups. We would like to use this conflict as an opportunity to create dialogue about transphobia as well as other marginalized groups! INTERVENTIONS: The group will meet several different times to discuss and complete the various steps of interventions that we would like to take. Firstly we are offering this public statement holding ourselves accountable. Secondly, we will not have DGR table or participate at future L&D events. Thirdly we will plan a public event to discuss issues of transphobia in the movement inspired by conversations ignited by last weekends conflicts. Lastly we will continue these conversations among ourselves so we can continue to fine-tune the absence of discriminatory groups and behaviors at future events in the community as well as next years conference in 2014 and beyond! FOR TOTAL LIBERATION! FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS! FIRE TO THE PRISONS! & FREE THE LAND!! In solidarity, 2013 Law & Disorder Conference Steering Committee”
[The following comment was made on L&D’s blog in response to the above, but is posted here given the extreme censorship evident in this group’s practice and policies:]
While you’re ‘fine tuning’, what are you doing to preserve the civil rights and physical safety of ALL attendees? Frankly, it looks like L&D was liable for the assault on the women last year and would be liable for similar assaults (having taken no real responsibility or made no real effort to prevent such assaults) this year (2014). Threats to disrupt this year’s L&D Conference for including Kristian Williams as a panelist is an example. The L&D Conference is about as ‘safe’ as a dark alley in NYC…and for many of the same reasons.
You might want to mark these words: This is the kind of dysfunctional organizing that has historically lead to violence and death. Malcom X, Trotsky, Mao’s purges, snitch hunts (to name just a few), and the easily anticipated violence associated with the same, physical attacks on journalists, vilifying others with different thoughts, all come to mind. You’re assurance of a ‘safer space’ based on conflating ideological purity with the actual means in place to preserve people’s physical safety is ridiculous on its face. You can’t even provide for your own safety or prevent the L&D Conference from being disrupted. In fact, your methodology invites such disruption.
While you refused to cave (so far as I know) on having Kristian Williams speak at the 2014 L&D Conference, his critique, “The Politics of Denunciation” could easily have had pronouncements here, such as yours, in mind. It isn’t the lack of ideological purity that puts attendees ‘safety’ at risk during the L&D Conference, it’s YOU!