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August 11, 2015


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I am pleased that you quoted me and perfectly too. I am a real fan of heckling, personally I began it with George Wallace in regards to civil rights and the Vietnam war. My teacher is Alice Paul, who learned it from Emmeline Pankhurst.

To really understand the organic effect of heckling you have to have the mission of pointing out to those in power that they need to prioritize the issues. For example, Senator Sanders was talking about the distribution of wealth and the hecklers wanted him to update his position on Black Lives Matter. It was not, 1)that he is a racist, 2) that his work in the 60's was ignored or 3)redistribution of wealth is not important. And, the fact is - within 2 days his campaign did put out a NEW set of positions on the issues of the day. No matter how it appears - the fact is that it works.

I heckled POTUS on the repeal of DADT. I was chanted down and escorted out by the Secret Service. BUT President Obama prioritized and set a committee in place to investigate the effects on the armed forces should they allow LGB to openly serve. Obviously it was repealed.

It is the work of the militants to break convention. Heckling is a tried and true tool But if you measure it on how the moderates react - it looks like rude immature shouting. However, the approval of the moderates is not the goal, in fact, Mrs Catt wrote many apologies to President Wilson over the actions of Alice Paul and the National Woman's Party.

I am sorry that Scout was the one interrupted. However, Scout was an actor on the stage of change. I bet it will inform her life forever.

BTW - I just read that "Bernie rally tonight in LA opened with a woman giving a speech about BlackLivesMatter. The cheers from the crowd were insane."
well done!

Thanks, Zoe. An educational exchange. Even if I don't necessarily buy your implied direct connection between your heckling and the repeal of DADT, points all well taken. I'm going to post a version of this exchange tomorrow at Vital Speeches of the Day website, and see if perhaps some professional speechwriters will further the conversation. But I sure appreciate your response, in fact and quality. (One caveat: Young Scout wasn't interrupted. She was in attendance when the school principal was interrupted, and she was merely upset, forcing me to explain the hecklers to her--a good exercise for both of us.)

That is a truly eye-opening explanation for the motives and goals of heckling. If your only goal is to move someone's position forward, I can see now how that would be extremely useful. It does, however, bring to mind the question of immediate vs. long-term influence trade-off. To use Sanders as the example again, was the update on his stance worth it to a group struggling to gain public support that has now vilified themselves to the moderate majority and the senator that best supports their cause? I would think good PR would be absolutely precious to a struggling grassroots organization. How do you balance these kind of negative effects to your long-term standing against the immediate goals of advancing the discussion?

I an disappointed that you inserted this youtube on comics being heckled in this conversation about political heckling. Political issue-driven heckling has nothing to do with competitive joking, maybe alcohol involved, disapproval, showing off.

Five people sent it to me. It's just a lighthearted post-scripted accent to the piece, nothing more. Did not attach it to Vital Speeches treatment.

(And you're right, Zoe. I've removed it.) Do you not feel inspired to answer John Rosbolt's question (which seems honest to me)?

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