Scott Tibbs

More dishonesty in the Farmer's Market debate

By Scott Tibbs, June 16, 2020

While I disagree with the calls to ban Schooner Creek Farm from the Farmer's Market, I understand the concerns of some of the people calling for them to be banned. However, I cannot respect those who are dishonest in their "arguments" for banning a family from peacefully selling vegetables.

First, the Herald-Times violated its own "standards" in publishing the guest editorial by the National Organization for Women. The owners of SCF deny they are white supremacists, but the H-T has repeatedly described them as white supremacists anyway. But the NOW editorial went much further in describing them as "neo-Nazis." This is not only a breach of journalistic ethics, it violates the "standards" that the H-T has repeatedly laid out for guest columns and letters to the editor.

SCF owners are not "neo-Nazis" and there is not one shred of evidence that they have sympathy for Nazis. That editorial should not have been printed with that description intact.

Furthermore, NOW claims that there is "neo-Nazi activity in the city farmers' market." This is a lie. There is no Nazi activity at the farmer's market. Even if SCF owners were Nazis, claiming they are engaged in Nazi activity at the market would still be a lie. They are peacefully selling vegetables at the market, not threatening or harming anyone. This inflammatory accusation should never have been published.

The city has not "suppressed" protest. It was the "protesters" themselves who suppressed First Amendment rights by surrounding the vendor's booth and trying to intimidate shoppers from purchasing their produce. The city implemented "time, place and manner" restrictions on protest, which has been repeatedly ruled legal by the Supreme Court. People can stand at the entrance to the market to protest and hand our literature, but they cannot disrupt the market itself or interfere with vendors or shoppers.

NOW claims that allowing SCF to peacefully sell vegetables "stripped the market of safety, security and peace," which is false. There is no threat to safety by allowing SCF to peacefully sell vegetables to consenting adults. As I have explained before, the inflammatory accusation that the mere presence of people with offensive views is a threat to physical safety is a preemptive justification for violence.

NOW demanded that the members of the Broadening Inclusion Group resign, because of SCF and also because of a Facebook post expressing support for the Black lives Matter movement. Yes, support for BLM! NOW claims that the BIC "chose a moment of national trauma to inexplicably spew racist stereotypes and blame black people for the violence inflicted upon them."

Let's start with this: There was absolutely nothing wrong with the Facebook post. (See the post here.) The BIC correctly pointed out that many black lives are lost to violent crime and that as we oppose excessive force and police brutality we must also mourn the loss of those lives. It is not a "racist stereotype" to point out the well-documented fact that many blacks are murdered by black criminals, and it is dishonest for NOW to accuse the BIC (all of whom are liberal Democrats) of engaging in racist speech.

With that said, it was rather tone-deaf to post it on June 5 at 3:22 p.m. at the very moment when a massive march against police brutality was happening in downtown Bloomington and as emotions are very raw after the senseless killing of George Floyd. Even when you are saying the right thing, there is a wrong time to say it. There is plenty of time to discuss the broader issues here and the ways blacks are harmed and oppressed. Saying the right thing at the wrong time can inflict emotional harm and can cause a great deal of anger. The timing of this statement was very poorly thought out.

What we have here is a local variant of "cancel culture," which seeks to silence and then destroy people for saying things that are deemed "heresy" by the Left. We must not bow to the mob, and the city has so far been mostly correct in refusing to engage in illegal viewpoint-based discrimination. We must be vigilant in opposing "cancel culture," though, because SCF is only a test case. The precedent established here will eventually be used to "cancel" not only Identitarians, but also mainstream conservatives as well as orthodox Christians who do not bow the knee to the "progressive" agenda.

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