Monday, November 30, 2009

Guy Who Built Campus Gulag Attempts to Disrupt Rally and Fails

John Burns, the owner of a local construction company who built a gulag on the Washington University Campus in cooperation with the university chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), recently attended the Show Me No Hate rally outside of the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica along with take-videos-out-of-context-then-selectively-edit-them-and-refuse-to-release-entire-videographer James O'Keefe and another friend. His group attempted to disrupt the rally and then groped each other for a while, but fortunately the rally organizers recognized them early on and were able to keep them from disrupting the events.

For those who don't know the backstory, Burns was the spokesperson for the gulag that was built on the WashU campus and then taken down. The gulag was intended to raise awareness about the evils of communism, and they passed out fliers that suggested that everything from child labor laws to AmeriCorps were indications that we were moving in the direction of Marxism. The administration at WashU decided to shut the display down, citing their policies on art installations and amplified sound. Although I don't really know the details, my opinion based on what I know so far is that the administration probably overreacted and would have been better off leaving the display alone, but I'd guess that one of the reasons they decided to shut it down is that there were so many off-campus people involved in the display relative to actual students. Bill Hennessy, Jim Hoft, John Burns, James O'Keefe, and Darin Morley were all at the display along with only a very small number of students from YAL. Anyway, I'll let Burns present his version of what happened:

All the local right-wing bloggers predictably were upset about the gulag being taken down. And they furthermore spent a lot of time interviewing Burns about it. But, during all of these blog posts, they someone forgot to mention that Burns is not actually a student at the university. In fact, they pretty much systematically introduced YAL as a student group and then described Burns as a leader, despite the fact that Burns is not actually a student. Not the world's biggest scandal, but worth noting nonetheless.

So anyway, Burns, O'Keefe, and another guy all attended the Show Me No Hate Rally on Saturday. You saw Burns in the video above, and here he is at the rally with his two friends:
It might be hard to recognize Burns without the goatee at first glance, but fortunately Dana Loesch was kind enough to ID him for us the day before:
Also, the guy with glasses was also at the gulag display (I don't know if he's a student or not):
(picture from Gateway Pundit)

And of course the guy in the striped shirt is James O'Keefe.

And how did they act at the rally at the Basilica, which was a rally to protest the local Catholic Church using $10,000 to ban gay marriage in Maine? According to people who were there, they originally posed as being in support of the rally. However, after they were handed a sign, they wrote "Free Abortions" on the back and tried to hold it up for people attending mass. Fortunately, protest organizers were able to block them. Then, when Ed Reggi was speaking, they kept yelling"What about health care!" which had nothing to do with the message of the rally. O'Keefe screamed something about an old lady assaulting him. And, in their grand finale, they started groping each other.

John Burns created a lot of controversy in the gulag display when he was quoted at the end of a StudLife article as follows:
“I guess the students at Washington University were in a gulag all along, and the administration proved it through their stifling of free speech,” Burns said.
Well, I guess Burns cares so much about free speech that he tried to distort a peaceful message from people who are fighting for their civil rights. Right wing hypocrasy at its finest.


  1. John Burns is the little scratch on the roof of your mouth that would heal if only you could stop tonguing it, but you can't.

  2. I disagree 100%. John Burns is hanging out with James O'Keefe, the guy who got famous by taking hidden video of ACORN then selectively editing it to make them look bad. Likewise, when they were on the WashU campus, they took secret video of the administration and then edited it in a way to try to make it look like the admins were out to get YAL. The were also trying to surreptitiously videotape people at the rally.

    The problem is when they selectively edit video to make people look bad, the right wing media is all too happy to broadcast that video to millions of people. And, as we saw with ACORN, the mainstream media is often willing to bite as well, since they no longer appear to be capable of serious investigative journalism or analysis.

    So the idea that if we just ignore the John Burns's, they will go away, is in my opinion clearly wrong. We need to be aware of who on the right is trying to do this stuff, and to get the message out as quickly as possible so that they don't fool others.

  3. The problem with their "counter protest" techniques are that people like myself are never really sure how to stop them from doing exactly what they set out to do, "Change our Message."

    I have been following O'Keefe way before the ACORN thing hit the fan. You see O'Keefe has been doing his style of shock video since he was 10 years old. (If you look hard enough there used to be snippets of his crank yanker meets Jack-Ass movies all over the net.)

    Once I spotted O'Keefe in my crowd, I knew what to do. Remember, the fox always leaves a clucking hen house. So I turned the tables on O'Keefe and his crew by announcing who he was to my crowd. I also assigned the biggest queens to follow the three of them in the crowd, including blocking their every move from their hidden camera.

    What angers me so much was that the Police did NOTHING to get them away of our crowd. They just refused to move them to another spot on the sidewalk.

    Now, I have become sort of an expert with counter-protests against the Phelps Family. One thing I have learned is that we can never get close to Phelps because they seek protection from the Police against counter-protesters. I asked the Police to protect us by removing these crackers. I begged the Police Superviser to just move them 20 feet to the right. No dice. So my last plan of action was to back up our line and exclude them. When they realized they were no longer in our group they protested. I asked then the Police to remove them immediately and again they didn't.

    But seriously, how do we get these fools out from within our peaceful rallies? Imagine if we did this at their Tea Party events... we would be escorted off the street for sure.