On the graymaine blog, someone chose the pen name, “American Civic Soldier.” I thought his choice was extremely interesting. It revealed much about his approach to civic engagement. It also revealed much about the Carroll Petition movement’s approach to persuasion signifying to us rhetoricians that the Carroll Petition movement is a Militant movement, not a Moderate movement, and there is a big difference.
The Carroll people tried to persuade the Council to keep Gray Dispatch in Gray, and not to combine forces with County. They tried to convince the town and the council during the decision process by using heated language and verbal and written diatribes. They also used a pressure tactic that Militant movements commonly use, to “ensnare the bureaucracy in its own red tape,” as described by rhetorician Dr. Herb Simons of Temple University. Using these tactics they engendered delay and successfully staved off a decision for almost 6 months.
That the blog commenter could have called himself “American Civic Diplomat,” or “American Citizen” but instead chose a warlike name is telling. The ‘soldier’ allusion is indicative of the kind of movement rhetoric that in the professorial realms is called “militant.” More on this in another post.
When the Council’s unanimous decision proved that the Militants had failed to persuade even one councilor, they ratcheted up their war by petitioning. That’s where we’re at now, and the rhetoric they are using indelibly illustrates that their preferred approach is militant, not collaborative or “moderate”, as ‘American Civic Soldier’ demonstrates with his preferred name.
For this week, a Carroll petition supporter on the anonymous hate blog ‘graymaine04039’ compared the Council to the Ku Klux Klan, naming her picture file “KKK AKA Town Council” and writing harshly against the councilors next to the revolting picture. Anyone who has seen the recent History Channel program on the disgusting history of the KKK would be horrified at the petition supporters' comparison of our mild-mannered councilor-neighbors to vicious, bigoted, racist, unrepentant murderers.
It’s evident that the Carroll petitioners are escalating their stance. My hope is that this time, they restrain themselves from violence, particularly on Tuesday as they try to get signatures at the polls. Things did tend toward violence during their last movement, the Recall. And the KKK language is worrisome in the extreme...