Thursday, June 26, 2008


Between 2004 and 2006 I frequently spent Saturdays in front of the old Capital Care Women's Center on North High and E. Weber Road in Columbus documenting the weekly abortion protest. I tape recorded interviews and took hundreds of photographs. Although there were various groups at CapCare (Catholic prayer walkers, a few independent locals and neighborhood folks), the main group of protesters were Coach Dave Daubenmire's Minutemen United in their trademark blue baseball caps-- dubbed "meanies in blue beanies." The Minutemen and a few of their wives and children emigrated each Saturday from Warsaw, Coshocton, Jeffersonville, Hebron, Newark, Lancaster, and Mount Vernon. They added a certain "flare" to the otherwise mundane walkabouts.

Among those coming to CapCare with the Minutemen was John Freshwater.

While Minuteman involvement in the Freshwater case is well documented, as far as I know, Freshwater's Minutemen membership has not been mentioned. I don't know if it's "understood" or over-looked by an incurious media. Whatever, it's important to know that Freshwater is not simply a man under the gun of a "God-hating" school board, but a Minuteman, part of a regional militant Christian dominionist organization with ties to larger organizations such as Operation Save America/Operation Rescue. (see my entires on OSA/OR in my "labels" sidebar.)

Here are some pictures of Freshwater protesting at CapCare in October-November 2004:

Does this mean that John Freshwater's case has been orchestrated? Probably not. But it does mean that the events playing out in Mount Vernon have the potential to get real ugly real fast when outsiders, invited or not, get involved.

How ugly can it can get?

On April 18 Mount Vernon police were stationed in the lobby of Mount Vernon Middle School to prevent entry of unauthorized persons and to protect student privacy.

How ugly can it get?

According to the May 6, 2006 Mount Vernon Press, Parents express concern about environment in school :

from Parent Beth Murdoch:

"My daughter Arie told me about a Jewish child who brought his Torah to school when other students brought Bibles in support of Freshwater,” she continued. “He thought he was supporting freedom of religious expression, and the other kids just ripped him apart. ‘What are you doing?’ they asked. ‘You can’t support Mr. Freshwater, you’re Jewish.’ So they don’t get it.

“I don’t think people realize the depth of what’s going on between the students. It’s a mob mentality right now. It’s peer pressure. To not wear a T-shirt and to not bring your Bible when they say bring your Bible and wear a T-shirt, you’re asking for trouble.

"Murdoch said one of Arie’s friends wore a T-shirt to school that read, “I don’t need to wear a special T-shirt to be a Christian.” That individual was reportedly pushed into the lockers and called a “stupid atheist b****.” That is not acceptable in Murdoch’s mind."

From another parent, Christine Hamilton:

"They have gotten harassed,” she said, “because they are friends with the boy [whose parents filed the complaint against Freshwater]. In our country, everyone’s allowed their religious opinion, but some of the middle school kids are just jumping on a bandwagon. If you’re not for Mr. Freshwater, you are going to be harassed. That is flat out what is happening in the middle school. Therefore, I think a lot of kids are for Mr. Freshwater because they don’t want to be harassed, they don’t want to be singled out. And who wants to be against the Bible? Nobody.

“This whole thing has divided the community,” Hamilton added. “I think a lot of kids who don’t blindly support Freshwater have decided, ‘Boy, friends that we thought we had, are not friends.’ It’s even coming out on the soccer field. ..."

How ugly can it get?

At least four rallies have been held to support Freshwater, drawing as many as 200 people (pictures on Mount Vernon News site).--a significant number for a town of 14,000. Undoubtedly, they represent a fraction of support. The latest was Wednesday night at Riverside Park, but as of this writing I've found no report on it.

How ugly can it get?

Minutemen United have already started a school board recall, which will probably fail, since disagreeing with a school board decision does not fal under gross neglect of duty, misfeasance, malfeasance, and nonfeasance.

How ugly can it get?

In another entry here I'll discuss Dave Daubenmire's line-in-the-sand radio broadcast Monday night. Coach and his callers not only openly disagreed with how Freshwater's lawyers are handling the case, but called out the "evanjellyfish," those Mount Vernon-area evangelicals who don't sufficiently promote Biblical American values.

The Us Against Them battle is not just not about "Christianity" Against Secular
Society" but the refusal of evangelicals to embrace the world view of domionists like the Mnutemen.

How far are the the Biblical American forces in Mount Vernon willing to divide their community?


The Mount Vernon News has covered the Freshwater case since it began last year. I recommend that anyone interested in the play-by-play go here. Coverage includes pictures, audio, and videos. (Go to bottom right "Hot Topics" listvand click on Freshwater coverage, or go to the search engine.)

CapCare photos by author Others from Mount Vernon News


Anonymous said...

I listened to Dave Daubenmire's radio broadcast about the Freshwater case. Regarding his appearance on Geraldo, Daub said twice that he thought he did "pretty good". Bullshit! He didn't do well at all. Geraldo chewed him up and spit him out.

I saw the Geraldo tape on Daub's website but Daub has since removed the video clip and accompanying text. Think he was getting negative feedback? I do. If he had been getting praise, encouragement and donations he would have left it up, right?

IMO Geraldo didn't pull any punches with Daub for two reasons. First, when introducing Daub, Geraldo stated that Daub is "a local talk show host" and then at the end of the show said "Good luck with that talk show". Geraldo saw Daub as a being in the media business, a fellow interviewer, a professional, so Geraldo took off the gloves. If Daub had been someone who was inexperienced with the media, an ordinary Joe on TV for the first time, I think Geraldo would have been more gentle. A professional talk show host should be able to handle himself better not to mention make sure that his name was pronouncedly correctly.

Second, as Daub's own website stated, Geraldo's producer's had called Daub for an interview saying that they were having trouble finding anyone to defend John Freshwater. No surprise since Freshwater's actions are indefensible. But Daub, ever the hero for Jesus who never passes up an opportunity to grab a microphone, took on the challenge. If a man is foolish enough to defend the indefensible on national TV then he deserves what he gets. Geraldo certainly seemed to think so.

More later,


Marley Greiner said...

M--That's an interesting point you bring up about Geraldo introducing Coach as a talk show host. I did find that odd, since in the Coach Daubenmire hierarchy, "talk show host" is far down on my description list of him. Having had a couple unpleasant appearances on national TV myself, I know that what guests are told will happen and what actually transpires can be quite different. And forgot what you tell the producer in the pre-show interview(s. They hear what they want or what will be twisted around to be "sensational." And they never get it right, even when they try. Personally, if Geraldo's crew called me, I'd assume I'd be be sandbagged no matter what the topic was, and I'd have to think about it. Years ago I was asked appear on the O'Reilly Factor, and I turned it down. (A colleague did go on and it went fine).

Anyway, if Coach had gone on as Coach and not a talk show host, I agree that the interview may have turned out differently.

Personally, I'd have preferred less branding and more of the real story. Maybe I'm in the minority, but I see the branding, as creepy as it is, as a red herring. It's sexy and sells newspapers and time on Fox. The real story is Christian dominonism in Ohio.