By John Klar
Not content with disrupting the business of the Vermont House, climate change protesters popped up again to disrupt another much-loved public event. On June 8, Brattleboro hosted its annual celebration of local agriculture, the “Strolling of the Heifers” Parade. A small group of climate change protesters obstructed the Parade for about fifteen minutes, refusing to disperse. Two of the youngsters were carried off the roadway on backboards by authorities – but no arrests were made.
The public event’s co-announcer, Progressive Lt. Gov. and climate warrior David Zuckerman, praised the protesters from the reviewing stand for their civil disobedience. They were allowed to dominate the event and were not charged with any crime (their banner was returned to them). Said a local police officer: “What they did could have gotten them arrested…. but it was short and nonviolent.”
Had the protesters been conservative youth wearing MAGA hats in support of veterans, would the crowd, the police, and the lieutenant governor have been so accepting? Would those protesters be permitted fifteen minutes of “short and nonviolent” disruption?
Consider the implications: the police and a high government official placed their firm imprimatur on one side of a political issue. As the protesters halted the parade, the announcers praised them for their “great point,” and then announced over the microphone the protesters’ demand that towns implement climate change policies.
Zuckerman went much further, beginning: “I think that’s something that towns can do locally, and the state can do more as well and obviously even nationally and internationally. Thank you to the folks for bringing attention… You know it’s great, honestly, seeing young people getting involved as well you know I think a lot of us would like to see more of every age group get involved in our community and our political process making our voices heard, so kudos to young folks for getting involved as well.”
One (invariably liberal) media report observed that Zuckerman said that “Activism is a good thing,”… But after five minutes of watching protesters writhe on the pavement while a lineup of more than forty community groups and thousands of spectators sat stymied in the hot sun, the Progressive Party politician turned his microphone into a negotiating tool.”
Another media report described how the lieutenant governor “tried to convince the protesters to move since they were holding up the parade….,” and quoted a lead protester saying that “the climate change activists thought the heifer parade was too much of an opportunity to pass up.” Since Zuckerman is a strong proponent in Vermont of a slew of climate initiatives, including a carbon tax, he enhanced and magnified that opportunity for the protesters, endorsed their message, and did nothing to revive the parade.
Parade organizer Orly Munzing stated: “It’s not respectful of our farmers…. to hold things up – not just for the people and animals in the parade, but many of the people and young children on the sidewalk, waiting in the hot sun.” But the media and liberals applauded how reasonably Zuckerman handled it — but he didn’t handle anything at all. Why won’t the protesters be back next year to disrupt the parade again?
Zuckerman has been in government for many years. His website is “Vision With Vermont Values,” but he has yet to discover the value of maintaining civil order. Ironically, when the parade resumed a banner soon appeared reading “Civil Rights For All,” followed by a voice: “Standing up for the climate… is critically important.”
The concept of the rule of law eludes the practitioners of modern liberalism, many of whom actually embrace the belief (“critical theory”) that free speech and other protections must be removed in order for power to be transferred from dominant to powerless groups.
Today in Vermont, the media is all too often an unquestioning enthusiast for liberal propaganda. In lieu of personal responsibility, they embrace collective rights, and turn a blind eye to suppression of the rights of those with whom they disagree. (After all, they argue, we must save the climate (whatever that means), so those who disagree be silenced.)
In Vermont, as in many parts of our nation today, liberals seize upon “freedom of speech” to disrupt public events, and deny conservatives any right to offer contrary views. Liberal teenagers display Black Lives Matter flags at numerous public schools; conservatives display nothing at any schools. At times, police refuse to protect conservatives, and/or arrest liberals who openly and deliberately defy the law.
This year’s Strolling of the Heifers Parade again showed the face of disfigured liberalism, endorsed by Vermont’s Progressive lieutenant governor. With this welcome from state and local officialdom, we can expect to see the ranks of the climate protesters grow at next year’s event.
John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield, and pastor of the First Congregational Church of Westfield.