In a move that could widen a split among civil rights activists, Lt. Dan Choi and another gay soldier were arrested Thursday for chaining themselves to the White House fence to protest the ban on gays in the military. Establishment groups such as the Human Rights Campaign generally support President Obama, who has promised to end the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. But Choi crashed an HRC rally before his arrest, saying it's time for more aggressive action. (Watch a CNN report about Lt. Dan Choi's protest.) Here, opponents of "don't ask, don't tell" debate whether civil disobedience helps their cause, or reinforces the conservative argument that gay activists are radicals outside America's mainstream:
Choi isn't doing his cause any favors: This is a "delicate time," says Bridgette LaVictoire in Lez Get Real, with Congress actively discussing the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." Lt. Dan Choi's antics only make opponents of the ban on gays in the military look like self-aggrandizing rabble-rousers.
"Lt. Choi apparently plans to chain self to White House fence to protest don't ask law"
Sometimes civil disobeience is the only answer: Dan Choi may have hurt his "brand and credibility," says Rob Smith in The Huffington Post, but he also lit "a fire under each and every one of us that cares as deeply as he does about Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal." Sometimes, when you're fighting for human rights, it doesn't pay to be "complacent."
"Did Dan Choi jump the shark, or has the gay community forgotten what real activism is?"
It's too early to say whether Choi's antics did any good: There's no question that Lt. Dan Choi "Kanye'd" the Human Rights Campaign, say the editors of Queerty, by upstaging their rally. Along with the near simultaneous arrest at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office of five fellow activists from the group Get Equal, Choi staged a PR coup. But the momentum will fizzle fast unless Choi and his comrades can keep it up.
"Here's what Lt. Dan Choi and Robin McGehee did completely right. And what went horribly wrong"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Ted Cruz is the new Sarah Palin
- How liberals are unwittingly paving the way for the legalization of adult incest
- Watch out, China — America is working on dogfighting drones
- Fall film guide: All the movies you should see in October
- How the Simpsons/Family Guy crossover revealed the worst of both shows
- Why you probably don't have Ebola — even if you shook hands with America's 'patient zero'
- The dumb war in Syria will haunt Democrats' 2014 prospects
- Bill O'Reilly and Stephen Colbert are accidentally having a serious debate on ISIS
Subscribe to the Week