Ken Reid justifies mob rule

Update: After consultation with the author, I’ve changed the headline to more accurately reflect what happened here. Is the meaning different in this context? No. By telling the public that it was the lawful display, and not the unlawful vandalism of it, that “crossed the line,” Ken Reid gave his tacit endorsement to anyone who is offended by a future display to take the law into their own hands. Knowing that other displays would be going up in the near future, and knowing that angry citizens have already made their feelings about those displays known, his statement ‘calls for’ mob rule in all but the most narrow, legalistic sense. However, the term justified makes the same point without being needlessly hyperbolic. -Epl

If Supervisor elect Ken Reid’s comments to Darcy Spencer of NBC 4 portend anything, it’s that the rule of law is dead:


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What other conclusion can we reach?  The BoS established rules for the displays. The santa display satisfied the rules.  A woman lawlessly destroyed the display, and Ken Reid’s response was:

“that somebody in this county who would try to basically debase Christmas like this.  This really crossed the line.”

Really Ken?  We get it.  You don’t personally like the display, but what crossed the line was the vandalism.  That was a crime and your words were nothing short of a call for lawlessness and mob rule.

Vandalized skeleton santa display

31 thoughts on “Ken Reid justifies mob rule

  1. Elder Berry

    Barbara Munsey, arguendo, I really wish you could step back and see THE ISSUE: a private citizen in the view of a sheriff’s deputy is allowed to vandalize and destroy a legally placed display on government property and walk away without even being challenged, and then an elected official blows it off and blames the display for the offense.

    Now, let me ask you, what does anyone’s political party have to do with that.

    How would you feel if for example it was a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier that was vandalized and destroyed in front of federal park police, and (say) Nancy Pelosi blamed the act on what was inscribed on the Tomb?

  2. Pingback: How to ruin a ‘positive statement of belief’ – Loudoun Progress

  3. Epluribusunum

    Barbara, you said somewhere fairly recently that you are torn about this situation. As I said initially when the Board was considering the current policy, I felt the same way. The tradition of a public forum on public property goes to the heart of our First Amendment and our diversity as a nation. My screen name on this blog ought to tell you my feelings about the importance of that. So I agreed with you about welcoming free speech in all of its messy glory (I think that’s close to what you said) while at the same time not looking forward to the hurt feelings and anger that are the inevitable outcome of a true First Amendment zone.

    What we now have is not in fact a First Amendment zone, so it’s no longer accurate to frame what you are torn about in this way. That horse has left the barn. More about that later.

    The solution to which I refer is not one that I have “generously proposed,” it’s the one that Scott York has publicly suggested for the incoming board to adopt. There doesn’t seem to be a problem with what the National Park Service does in terms of “eliminating” what you call “faith based ones,” but there is a marked absence of the name-calling, hurt feelings, vandalism, and threats of legal action. I’m curious how you could find such a resolution, which isn’t about “winning” or “losing,” objectionable.

  4. Barbara Munsey

    Yes, let “us” take the solution you generously propose, and eliminate the faith based ones.

    Who “wins” there?

    It certainly is clear enough that you have no intention of a straight answer to the question, which pretty much answers the question.


  5. Epluribusunum

    We have the opportunity to come to a shared resolution that does away with all the rancor and gives us back our public square to enjoy as a united community. Let’s take it.

    I hope that’s clear enough for you.

  6. Barbara Munsey

    David, such a careful wordsmith as yourself surely sees the difference between Jonathan’s personal beliefs and whether statements made about him on a news show were accurately sourced.

    I did not ask whether Jonathan was an atheist, although that’s what you chose to answer.

    I asked first whether he was correctly attributed as a member of the atheist group, which you did not answer, but sidestepped with the “Jonathan is not an atheist”.

    I asked if he was affiliated with the group, got more games.

    From someone as precise as you seem to like to be considered to be, the fact that you don’t give a clear answer speaks volumes.

    Project away with the “intellectually lazy” and “simplistic”, but unfortunately the activism you and Jonathan engage in IS pretty simple, and would certainly explain any reluctance to admit you are all working on the same page in this issue (again).

    Jonathan makes no bones about attacking what he near-uniformly refers to as “christianists”, and in relatively simple and repetetive ways–further illustrated by his very moving letter about his family’s experiences in Europe, which, however, still does NOT make anyone with whom Jonathan disagrees a Nazi, just as during last year’s struggle with the same issue, did not make the woman he ridiculed at LTM a Communist.

    Perhaps if there were as much breadth to your shared activism as the volume of effort you put into it, it wouldn’t be such a transparent dismissal to play word games with the published association with the prime group driving the perennial courthouse conflict toward their desired resolution.

  7. Pariahdog Post author

    Here’s an interesting datapoint as to why Republicans win elections.

    From VPAP:
    Total donations: 2006-2010:
    Marian Czarnecki
    $1,200 Herring for Senate – Mark
    $250 York for Loudoun County Board Chair – Scott (Ind)

  8. Epluribusunum

    Wait, I missed the unintended hilarity of this the first time: “David, I didn’t ask if he IS an atheist, that’s his business.”

    But who he associates with, and in what capacity, is your business? LOLOL – you could always FOIA him…oh, wait…

    Seriously, Jonathan was (ever so gently) poking fun at you for transparently playing with semantics as you fish for the answer you want. I will be more blunt.

    I have a theory about why you’re kicking this particular dead horse: You and your “affiliates” are frustrated that Jonathan and I are people of faith who don’t fit neatly into the stereotype you would prefer to talk at and about. We’re gay, we’re parents, we’re active in our church, we’re marriage conservatives, we like Ayn Rand, etc, etc. We know and associate with a broad variety of people, and we like it that way. It makes things inconvenient for intellectually lazy people who want to demean us, though. It makes things especially hard for activists who want to make sure the current issue continues to be simplistically framed as “Atheists vs. Christians: Epic Deathmatch.”

  9. Epluribusunum

    Barbara, since you didn’t get the hint the first time, allow me to translate: Asked and answered. Anything additional is, as usual, your own invention. Have fun with your latest fixation.

  10. Barbara Munsey

    We have been affiliated in the past on specific occasions, but we don’t currently maintain social or professional contact on anything, do we?

    So, no clear answer means that we are playing word games?

    And yes, while you technically specifically are not a MEMBER of the group in that since they require no dues and you hold no office with them then it would be a documented lie to say you hold membership and since you are nowhere on record as being a professed atheist then it would be a documented lie to say you are, but for all practical purposes yes you are working with them on this annual Christmas schtick, but have no intention of saying so since it could make it look like it is indeed organized schtick?

    If Ken Reid not calling for mob rule is good enough for you to conclude he really is, then I guess it could be concluded (perhaps erroneously, most likely not) that yes, you’re working with the atheist groups.

    As I said to Travis on the other thread, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck…


  11. Barbara Munsey

    Not really a big deal. (move along, nothing to see–lolol) Depends. Not from a faith/belief standpoint, but it may be interesting from an organized activism one.

    So, picking through your answer, he was incorrectly identified as belonging to an atheist group, but if he maintains contact with them and takes photos, etc, would he be correctly defined as “affiliated”?

  12. Epluribusunum

    I think that most of the news reports incorrectly identified Jonathan as representing or “being from” one of the atheist groups – probably because he said that he heard from them about the vandalism and came down to take photos. Not really a big deal, IMO.

  13. Barbara Munsey

    David, I didn’t ask if he IS an atheist, that’s his business. I asked if he was correctly identified as belonging to the group?

    I went to Catholic school for my entire educational experience, and had many classmates in high school and college who were not Catholic.

    It wasn’t a requirement to attend any of the schools.

    Many people join differing groups for a variety of reasons, some of which has little to do with the belief set of a majority of group members or founders.

    You guys happen to be a gay couple, but you participate in things as a couple that aren’t exclusively gay, right? Belonging to a civic or community group that may have mostly straight members doesn’t make you a straight couple simply by means of the chosen association.

  14. Barbara Munsey

    Just watched the channel 7 clip–was the reporter correct in identifying Jonathan as a member of the local atheist group?

  15. Epluribusunum

    Fox 5 has video up now. Definitely Channel 9 has the most complete and accurate coverage – it’s good at least to see that result when a reporter is told she’s not allowed to do her job!

  16. Epluribusunum

    As I said before, Reid’s comment was extremely irresponsible; he made it in the context of, and standing right in front of, a recent scene of vandalism, a crime committed with impunity in front of a deputy.

    Instead of saying that the crime of vandalism is an unacceptable response to a display that the culprit found offensive, he said that the lawful display “crossed the line.” That’s endorsing the view of the people who committed the crime, which is that they are entitled to engage in mob rule.

    Sorry, but I can’t help that Reid happens to be a Republican. If he changes parties today, his comment will still be just as irresponsible. He really needs to clarify it.

    It’s clear, and unfortunate, that the message the young man was trying to convey with his display is being missed. But that’s the reality.

  17. Barbara Munsey

    Liz, Ken Reid didn’t call for mob rule, as the title suggest, and explains away with “What other conclusion can we reach?”

    How about the simple factual conclusion that he did NOT CALL for mob rule, as the video evidence provided shows he did not?

    He didn’t call for it simply because Jonathan says he did, or sees no possible other conclusion than his preferred one.

    My opinion is that THAT is drama.

    The usual drama.

  18. Liz Miller

    Barbara, it’s not drama just because you say so.

    Vandalism is drama, taking the law into your own hands is drama, deputies standing by while the vandalism takes place is drama, and an elected official making approving remarks on the vandalism is drama.

    It is on the path to lawlessness and vigilantism.Pointing that out is not dramatic, it is stating facts.

    The facts themselves are dramatic, but that is not Jonathan’s fault.

  19. Barbara Munsey

    Given that the election was a sweep, it IS very convenient that anyone you criticize happens to be in the other party. The meme can stay where it is, even if it is useful to pretend that this is not political, since anyone in county government you criticize WILL be Republican for four years.

    Control of language, while talking about free speech.


    Political drama.

  20. Barbara Munsey

    Okay, I just watched the vid–didn’t notice the first time the nbc in the corner, so I see Jonathan finds this provocative art with a great message worhty of discussion.

    His right.

    I also see that Ken Reid spoke very briefly, and did not say anywhere that he was “calling for mob rule”. Drama.

    Guys, the vandalism argument has merit.

    The drama just lost you any credibility on the rainbow paint issue.

    You saw that as the bloddstains of a murdered gay body dragged away, and explicit hate speech. Others saw a rainbow palm print pushing open a door so that the rainbow could flow in. That was dramatically (and politically) unacceptable to you, and far beyond free speech into hate speech.

    Here is a much more graphic display, of a literally dead figure of cheer still nailed to the torture-murder apparatus used to kill it.

    Jonathan sees art. And anyone who doesn’t like it is somehow lesser? Others saw a literally dead figure of cheer still nailed to the torture-murder apparatus used to kill it. Maybe even hate speech.

    You can’t have it both ways either, and if you want credibility with this beyond those who already agree with you, than maybe the name of the post needs to be changed, as nowhere in that video did Reid call for mob rule.

    Perhaps YOU can draw no other conclusion, but others can, since he actually did nothing of the kind.

  21. Epluribusunum

    And by the way, this isn’t really about Ken Reid. The post (which I promoted) is about a particular irresponsible comment he made yesterday, but the issue is much larger and not partisan (except for those who find that useful, like Barbara). We can put that meme away.

  22. Epluribusunum

    No, sorry. Your poster is incorrect.

    And so are you. What happened in Leesburg yesterday is that an angry mob formed at the courthouse and harassed the owners of the two displays, one of which was the “Letter from Jesus” that she displayed last year. If there was anything “offensive” or “mocking” about that display, I haven’t heard it. The other display was the infamous Santa on a cross, which its creator has explained repeatedly as a protest against the commercialism and consumerism that, in his view, has defamed Christmas.

    After the owners left, the angry people first moved the Letter so that it blocked the Santa. Then a woman vandalized the Santa by throwing it to the ground. Then they destroyed both displays and left the pieces on the lawn. This happened in front of witnesses and a Sheriff’s deputy.

    The displays were lawful, although this group of people was offended by them. An angry mob didn’t like the real life results of the display policy, they decided to make and carry out their own law, and they were allowed to do so with impunity. That’s the definition of mob rule.

  23. Barbara Munsey

    Liz, I agree it was vandalism.

    I’d like to hear the rest of the story on the deputy.

    Yes, it is drama to extrapolate this to angry mobs forming at the urging of Ken Reid, who is supposedly explicitly and directly calling for an end to “the rule of law!” and a definite future of the law standing by idly while innocent citizens are sacrificed to said definitely-coming angry mob.


    For political purposes.

    Nothing new here but the annual get-in-the-news under cover of Christmas.

  24. Liz Miller

    Barbara, drama? Drama is vandalizing a display because it sends a message that you don’t agree with.

    Drama is a deputy standing by while that vandalism happens, and then intervening with a reporter recording it later.

    That’s drama. Reacting to those events? Not drama.

  25. Barbara Munsey

    Guys, the drama!

    Calling for mob rule! By Christianist anti-gay forces? (give you time, and I will)

    Jonathan, here’s a comment of yours from the Times article

    “Wed, Oct 12 at 09:54 AM by Jonathan Weintraub | Report this comment

    For some odd reason, maybe it’s something in the water, I don’t quite understand this. Why did this out-of-town request get promoted and embraced by the Town Council?

    This strikes me as the perfect storm for the “government can do no good” ideology. Flood government with social and religious culture war issues and then blame government for not getting its work done. Let’s outsource the parade to private enterprise and let the free market deal with it.”

    I understand that one is a county issue, and one a town (and I told you at the time that since your position seemed to be that people who didn’t live in Leesburg had no right to express opinions there, I’d remind you of that the next time you went to Leesburg to express one), but this seems to be in line with the second part of your comment: The government (of the political party which we do not support that just got overwhelmingly elected but hasn’t even been sworn in yet and boy are we PISSED) can do no good.

    Ken Reid represents a district in which you and David do not live. Your candidate lost the election in the district in which you do, and people did not vote against the candidates you disliked in other districts in which you do not live.

    I’m sure that smarts, in fact I know it does, because of posts like this and some others around the web.

    Seriously, if your message worked against the candidates of your choices (for others) in the election, why would you think politicizing and dramatizing holiday conflict would resonate any better?

    David, were you really on the news about this last night, as one poster at LTM said? Are you an authority on Christmas because of your position as an elder in your church, an authority on Christmas displays because you participated in one a few years ago, or an authority on mob rule and lawless Republicans? Or all of the above?


  26. Epluribusunum

    This is extremely serious. Ken Reid’s remark made in front of a crime scene is outrageously irresponsible, but that’s not even the worst of it. I don’t think that any of the coverage of the vandalism included the fact that it was actually witnessed by others, including a Sheriff’s deputy. The derelict deputy not only did nothing to stop the vandal and failed to place the vandal under arrest, he demanded that the news crew stop filming the crime. His actions sent the message that if an ugly mob assembles at our town square, they can have their way by force. This needs to end now, before someone gets hurt.

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