DNA—the Grass Roots Speak

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Digital Network Army

The Grass Roots Speak

Have you seen the new DNA logo Beetle Blogger is sporting today?  What is the DNA?  I’d heard about the Digital Network Army through my work with Proposition 8 in California, their email network was on fire and played a big role in getting information out throughout the state, organizing people and keeping people informed.  After the election, activity died down a bit on the DNA Network, but recently it’s made a new appearance.

I was able to get in contact with the DNA Team Captain and in my first exclusive interview, he was able to answer a few questions for me.

Beetle Blogger: So, what is the DNA exactly?  What do you do?  What is your “Mission”?

DNA Captain: The DNA is an organization of regular people, who are dedicated to preserving traditional family values.  The purpose of the DNA is to organize, or focus the voice of the people so it can be heard.  Alone one voice can get lost in the fray, but many voices speaking out on family issues in a focused way makes them more powerful.  We believe it’s important that the voice of the people be heard by policy makers and voters.

Beetle Blogger:
And you’re not really particularly religious or political are you?

DNA Captain:
Right, we’ve got members from all walks of life, all political persuasions, college alumni, concerned mothers, lawyers, famous people, regular joes, plumbers, people with money, people without money….just basically people who are alarmed about the changes they see happening in the social fabric of the country and want to make a difference.  We have a small army of writers, strategists, thinkers and philosophers.  The common thread is that they’re all people who believe in traditional morals and family and who are willing to get out and do rather than watch.  That’s our power.

Beetle Blogger:
I know you have an email network and you basically email chain news and information around the network, but how effective is that?


DNA Captain:
Well, it’s very effective.  They call the internet the new media because it takes power away from the traditional media and allows the common people to band together for causes.  We don’t have to wait to be spoon fed the opinion of the editors at CNN or FOX if we don’t want to.  We can go look it up on Drudge or many other places that are popping up.

We’ve got four areas we really focus on:

1. We disseminate news stories–This is our main focus, we are like a homespun version of the Associated Press.  When there are stories out there like the Scott Eckern story, or the El Coyote story that are not getting widespread press from the mainstream media, we need to have means to push those stories into the local media outlets, and from there the big guys may pick it up by force of pressure.  Our group heard about Scott Eckern being pressured to resign even before he resigned.  The DNA helped further a letter campaign in the 12 hours before his actual resignation, and after the resignation we published the information far and wide, submitting news tips to every major media outlet and even local media outlets.  Drudge got tips from several of our members and what started out as a very small story is now widely known.  Had it been a gay man forced to resign, the media would have spread it and made it national news by themselves, but when a story doesn’t fit their templates, the stories just don’t get reported.   We’re helping to change that.

2. We help get the message out so people can be educated on the core issues–with proposition 8, there was a major push by the opposition to conceal the arguments and issues, behind names like bigotry and hatred.  Our effort is to be solidly informed on both sides of the marriage issue and then to get the message out. Now that proposition 8 is over, it’s becoming clear that the battle has merely moved from one state to the others.  This information needs to be spread throughout the country.  If you watch the mainstream media, you get the impression that the only reason to oppose the redefinition of family is based on bigotry, ignorance and hate.  That is an untruth that does the entire country a disservice, yet the media continues to put that idea forward and unless people scratch the surface of the issue themselves, they might never know the true issues at stake here.  Many of our members are actively involved in writing letters to editors, publishing blog articles and spreading news stories on the fight for marriage and family that illustrate the consequences happening in our community from the attack on marriage and family.

3. We help people to coordinate their voices: because we’re all networked together, we can coordinate our efforts to make sure that newspapers and local news outlets have access to our voices.  Our army writes editorials and opinion pieces to keep our pro-family agenda in the public eye.

4. We are able to contact the army quickly!  We remain closely connected via email so the instant something happens, the information goes out immediately.

Beetle Blogger: Were you behind the CTA Tuesday sick-out/letter writing campaign?

DNA Captain: Well, not really, but we contributed our part by relaying the information through the network, we didn’t start the idea for the actual sick-out.  We spread the information that the California Teacher’s Association was using teacher funds to attack the family and that information went out like wildfire especially through parent circles.  A lot of teachers had no idea that their union had voted to spend millions of dollars to fight proposition 8 and 4, both family friendly issues, and the reaction instantly created a furor among both teachers and parents.  The backlash of that furor manifested itself in the sick-out effort and the letter writing campaign.  The idea was that if the schools became hostile to families and traditional values, the families would be forced to move their children to private or home school situations, which would take money from the school system.  The frustration out there was from the image of the schools fighting families.  The details on the sick-out came from the grass roots somewhere, but once one of our members picked it up and blasted it through the DNA network, it went like wildfire.  In the course of 24 hours news of the sick-out had made it to families all across the state.   It is an example of the power these types of networks can have.  We don’t have exact numbers, but we know of hundreds of students and parents who wrote letters to their teachers in protest of the CTA’s effort to undermine the family.

Beetle Blogger: So I guess that leads into my next question, how big is the DNA?

DNA Captain: We started out with just a handful of dedicated people, but within the first two months we’d grown to 400 members.  Now the membership has extended beyond the borders of California and we’re aiming at becoming a national organization. We decided after the election to initially end the DNA project, but watching the news and seeing the havoc and outrage out there, we realized that it had become a national issue and that there was a need for an organization like this out in the heartland.  So, we restructured, added some additional leadership and now we’re back with force and continuing to spread.

You know, the tide is turning out there against gay marriage, but the message has to get out.  If you watch the old media you don’t get a clear picture of the detrimental influence the re-definition of marriage can have on families and society.  Basic freedoms are at stake when you talk about creating a gay protected class because it crosses the morality line.  If people acting immorally is taught as moral and equal, that has a lot of consequences.  Now the DNA is not only about marriage, education and freedom, but it is the main focus right now of our organization.  As California goes, so goes the nation and so goes the world.  We can’t afford to let misinformation color the voters of this nation with ignorance.

That’s basically the message and the purpose of the DNA, to get the message out there so people can see both sides of the issues and make an informed choice.

Beetle Blogger: Now, your name isn’t really DNA Captain right?  Who are you really?

DNA Captain: I actually think that’s one of the genius aspects of this network, we encourage anonymity to protect individuals who may be subject to intimidation or danger.  No one has to give out names or personal information if they don’t want to, in fact many of our members create new email addresses completely separate from their normal family addresses in order to participate. This is a heated issue and we each want the ability to act and speak freely without worrying about our safety.  We’ve seen what the other side does to supporters of traditional marriage, so we set ourselves up this way for protection. The reason I don’t personally identify myself is first for privacy concerns, and second to add stability to the group.  We actually have several people who have served in the DNA Captain capacity, so it’s easier to have a title associated with the DNA rather than a specific name.

Beetle Blogger: How do people find out more information or join the DNA?

DNA Captain: We encourage volunteers, professionals, parent groups, friends and family to participate.  Have them go directly to our website located at www.DigitalNetworkArmy.com or email dna.teamcaptain@gmail.com directly to request admission.  Truthfilled. Respectful. Relentless. We can make the difference.

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www.DigitalNetworkArmy.com

Raddon Resigns–Twinges of Guilt?

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L.A. Times begins to show remorse?

The pressure continues out there.  Just this week Richard Raddon, the director of the Los Angeles Film Festival was forced to resign after gay advocates persecuted him with threats and intimidation.  He offered to step down as film director earlier but the film board voted unanimously in his support so he withdrew his resignation and decided to stick it out with the company’s full support.

The pressure moved from work to home however, as Raddon’s family was targeted, and that proved to be too much.  “No on 8″ supporters got a hold of his personal phone number and email and continued their threats and harassment. When Raddon again sent his resignation to the film board, this time they accepted.

Chad Griffin, a political advisor to Hollywood executives epitomizes the theme of the mob when he justifies their actions saying:

“A dollar to the yes campaign is a dollar in support of bigotry, homophobia and discrimination. There are going to be consequences. Any individual who has held homophobic views and who has gone public by writing a check, you can expect to be publicly judged. Many can expect to pay a price for a long time to come.”

As awful as scenes like this are, there is one shining ray of optimism.  This is the first time I’ve seen the Times react with something of a conscience as they report on the hurt caused by these mobs.  While less than outraged, they’re actually looking into the human aspect of more than just those on the side of the cause they publicly supported.

The times actually reported on the further harassment of Mr. Raddon and his family with less than glowing terms, seeming to draw a line in the sand of what is unacceptable, even for the Times:

From the L.A. Times–Raddon’s support for Proposition 8 has sparked debate within both the gay community and Hollywood, as many publicly worry about punishing people for free speech, even speech they deemed hateful, and his departure has already provoked ambivalence.

“I’m personally saddened by the outcome,” said Film Independent board member Bill Condon, the writer-director of “Dreamgirls.” “Someone has lost his job and possibly his livelihood because of privately held religious beliefs. I think the organization was ready to tough this out, but Rich ultimately decided it wasn’t worth the cost. I’m not sure he was right.”

It’s about time for the media to start sprouting a conscience over these incidents of abuse, mobocracy, and intimidation.  Where is the outrage on the pages of the Times for freedom of speech?

As long as our leaders both in state government and leaders of public opinion in the media refuse to condemn these strong arm actions, groups who use information to target neighbors will be emboldened and the intimidation of free citizens will continue.

The effort by the Times to curb mob action and bring balance into the story is welcome, but for many like Richard Raddon and his family, it’s too little, too late.

—Beetle Blogger

Unions Don’t Speak for Teachers

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Union doesn’t speak for all state’s teachers

By Larry Sand

In an election season full of surprises and headline-grabbing stories, none may have been more polarizing than the $1 million donation that the California Teachers Association gave to the No on Proposition 8 campaign in October.

Proposition 8, which passed Nov. 4, will return the state to a place where only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized. The union had become concerned that the pro-8 forces were receiving more in donations and decided to rectify that situation.

While a prior $250,000 donation from the CTA to Equality for All (a coalition of gay advocacy groups which opposed Proposition 8) got some media attention, the general response from the public was mild. However, something about the $1 million infusion seemed to galvanize many, especially teachers.

It seems that the public has awakened to the fact that teachers unions donate millions of dollars of their members’ dues to issues that have nothing to with education on a regular basis.

According to teachers union watchdog Mike Antonucci, the CTA spent up to $5 million on five of this year’s 12 state ballot measures, none of which had anything to do with education.

What makes all this even more egregious is that these monies come from members’ dues. The CTA does not poll its members on how it spends its political money; nor does it care that many of its members are outraged by its spending habits, which run consistently to the left.

The recent outpouring on this issue suggests that teachers think that the union has no business spending their dues on issues unrelated to education, but if they must, union political spending should at least reflect the diversity of its membership. And teachers are in fact all over the political landscape.

At the same time that teachers are angry, there are many who are angry at teachers. The public seems to think that it is teachers who gave the money to the Proposition 8 campaign. In a recent commercial, state Superintendent of Education Jack O’Connell said “California teachers and every major newspaper say no on Proposition 8.” Sounds as if the 335,000 teachers who make up the CTA are in lock step, when nothing could be further from the truth.

It’s the 800 members of the CTA State Council who make these political decisions. And, as a body, their politics run way to the left of the average teacher. So what is a teacher to do? Unbeknownst to many, there are options.

Most teachers in California are led to believe that they are forced to join a union when they are hired. Well, yes and no. While one can never fully escape the burden of living in a non-right-to-work state, the effects can be mitigated. In our state, a typical teacher has to fork over about $1,000 every year to the union. However, if a teacher applies for agency fee status, he or she will get a yearly rebate of about 30 percent, or $300 — the amount the union claims to spend on non-collective-bargaining-type (read “political”) issues. Hence, agency fee payers still have to pay the union $700 apiece for the right to teach in California, but they at least have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that their dues are not going to support causes they are against. And there are other organizations they can join if they are concerned about any loss of protections typically offered by the union.

Those of us who have differences with our union can reclaim a part of the money taken from us and spend it as we choose, perhaps in ways that are in line with our moral, ethical and political beliefs.

Larry Sand is a veteran middle school teacher in Los Angeles and president of the California Teachers Empowerment Network.  www.ctenhome.org

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