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July 22, 2022 - 12:42pm

Op-Ed: Event speakers who advocate violence against Americans shouldn't be welcomed in Batavia

posted by Session Placeholder in Opinion.

Opinion Piece Submission by Logan W. Cole

A stop in Rochester by the controversial far-right conference featuring well-known figures from the anti-vaccine and anti-democracy movements known as the “ReAwaken America Tour” has been canceled after an outcry from the city’s community. It is now planned to be hosted by the Cornerstone Church in Batavia on August 12th and 13th.

Anti-vaccine ideas cause harm – it is well-established that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. A study published by top medical journal The Lancet suggests that the vaccine has saved tens of millions of lives despite the efforts of anti-vaccine activists. Vaccine denialism has resulted in the preventable deaths of many and continued anti-vaccine rhetoric will result in the deaths of many more.

I didn’t want Joe Biden to be president but he indisputably won the 2020 general election by both the electoral and popular vote. The conspiracy theory that he did not win the election led to the anti-democracy protests in Washington on January 6th, 2021 that resulted in the deaths of five people.

Many confirmed speakers have made bigoted statements that encourage violence. Featured speaker Mark Burns called supporters of the LGBT community “groomers” and suggested that they should be held for treason and executed. The event’s headliner, Michael Flynn, called for the United States to become a single-religion Christian country and suggested that his supporters prepare to attack (“charge the machine gun nest”) school boards that support critical race theory.

The Cornerstone Church is a religious organization and a non-profit corporation. If they are claiming tax-exempt status or any other tax benefit as a result of their status as a church or non-profit, taxpayers are subsidizing them and the hate they platform. The support or opposition of any particular candidate (desire to overturn an election result is the ultimate expression of this) is prohibited for tax-exempt religious organizations.

Saying these speakers should have no place in Batavia is not a denial of their free speech rights; freedom of speech is not entitlement to any particular venue or platform nor does it guarantee a space safe from criticism. Indeed, in my opinion, one of the most noble uses of free speech is to identify ideas that cause harm and speak out against them. To this end, I say to the organizers, hosts, and speakers of the ReAwaken America Tour: take your harmful, fascistic ideas elsewhere, or, better yet, nowhere.

Logan W. Cole lectures on biology at SUNY Brockport and organizes with the Genesee County Democratic Socialists of America. He has lived in the town of Batavia for over twenty years.

Michael DePumpo
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Gaslighting is not working anymore. I'm voting for Lee Zeldin for New York state governor and never voting Democratic again. Hope your corpo party fails hard Cole.

Right far is any group or people who don't tow the corporate banker line or your far left ideas. ReAwaken America is more sane than the Democratic Socialists of America that you support. Democrats have been running New York for years. What do we have to show for it? People like you that have nearly destroyed our livelihood in this state with your CRT corpo BS.

As for the Jab? Biden who you trying to distance yourself from, took all of them and still caught Covid-19. The most protected man in the world with the best drugs, legal and other wise, caught this virus. His vax didn't work very well, or did it? Id the guy who work on the vax say something is wrong with it, would you listen? Here: https://www.theepochtimes.com/vaccines-are-destroying-peoples-immunity-t...

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