Skip to comments.Protests? Absurdity par for course
Posted on 04/13/2003 8:52:59 AM PDT by DeFault User
Posted on Sun, Apr. 13, 2003
AT THE MASTERS
Protests? Absurdity par for course Activist Martha Burk sinks credibility of cause with KKK likeness, inflatable pig TOMMY TOMLINSON
AUGUSTA, Ga. - Here's how bad it was at the Masters protests Saturday:
The Elvis impersonator was the sanest guy on the grounds.
Be proud, home folks -- he's a Charlotte boy. His name is Mack Gaddy, and he wore shades, a jet-black wig and a white jumpsuit with a sequined eagle on back.
He dressed up hoping somebody would give him a badge to get on the course. But after a while he decided the protests outside the all-male Augusta National Golf Club would be a better show.
"Elvis," he said, "has always supported women."
Sadly, that was as close as you could get to somebody who made sense.
If you didn't know the core of the debate -- the push to get Augusta National to admit a female member -- you never would've figured it out Saturday.
Martha Burk, the activist leading the main protest, used up her last bit of credibility when supporters paraded around a 10-foot cardboard Ku Klux Klansman sporting an Augusta National patch.
Or maybe it was when she cheered the giant inflatable hog meant to represent "corporate pigs."
Wait -- maybe it was when she said there are 51 states: the regular 50, plus "the police state of Augusta, Georgia."
Burk and her supporters were ticked that they couldn't demonstrate at Augusta National's main gate. Instead, the sheriff put them in a 5-acre field about a half-mile from the course.
Burk's National Council of Women's Organizations took up half the field; other protesters, most of them anti-Burk, took the other half.
Reporters outnumbered the protesters; police just about outnumbered both groups put together.
Hootie Johnson, chairman of Augusta National, stayed safely inside the club's gates, watching Tiger Woods try to win his third straight Masters championship.
Burk had a permit for 220 protesters; she ended up with maybe 50, including the woman with the sign that said "HOOTIE PATOOTIE, SHAME ON YOUTIE."
(But definitely not including the guy who waved a sign at Burk that said "MAKE MY DINNER.")
The other protest groups put together would have fit in a minivan.
The Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson came specifically to oppose the Rev. Jesse Jackson; Jesse P.'s protest was deflated when Jesse J. failed to show up.
Dave Walker came to support the war in Iraq. "The media attention is 10 percent of the reason I'm here," he said. (He left off a zero.)
Down at the far end of the field was Joseph Walker, who was kicked out of the official Ku Klux Klan but now bills himself as the "one-man Klan."
Walker and a couple of friends were there to argue against Burk's demands. They did this by putting up a display depicting Jesse Jackson as a monkey.
So, as you can see, this was a high-class event.
Most of the spectators were drive-bys, people who rode down Washington Road on their way to the tournament, or just people out to see the circus.
A few locals walked up to check out the scene. Juliet Dearing went up to Burk's stage to look at some of the signs; her friend Peter Alsen laughed and shouted, "Don't go! You'll be one of them!"
"I think she (Burk) is making a good point," Alsen said. "The club should have women. But the way she's going about it is just turning people off."
A lot of people who might have lined up behind Burk were thinking the same thing Saturday. The smart ones stayed clear. Jesse Jackson is on her side, but he's no fool.
Burk has a point: Augusta National, though a private club, is so tied to the Masters -- a public event -- that it ought to open its membership to women. And corporations whose CEOs belong to Augusta National ought to ask those CEOs hard questions about why they belong to a club that keeps women out.
It's not a slam-dunk issue. But it's worth a sprightly debate. And my guess is that Burk will win: Augusta National will admit a woman soon, claiming it was their idea all along.
Problem is, Burk buries any good points she makes under a mound of sludge -- the cardboard Klan guy, the inflatable pig, the "police state" stuff.
The more she yakked on the stage Saturday, the more you thought: Whatever she's for, I'm against.
Then you walked down to the other end of the field, with the real Klan guy. Suddenly Burk didn't look so bad.
By the way, we haven't even mentioned the guy in clown makeup, toting an umbrella festooned with U.S. flags. Or the two guys in dresses, accompanied by the guy dressed as a pimp. Or the sign that showed somebody in Masters green taking a pee on Martha Burk.
By this time Elvis had left the building.
Was there anybody in the whole place to root for?
Turns out there was. A group called People Against Ridiculous Protests was wisest of all. They came early, put up their sign and left.
The sign said: LOOK AT ALL THE RIDICULOUS PEOPLE.
That sort of sums it up.
Tears of laughter are rolling down my face.