How to deal with haters protesting your event

Yesterday I went to a small-town Pride event in Potosi, MO. There were a couple of haters, standing with poorly-spelled signs calling the LGBTQ community “groomers” and whatnot. They weren’t yelling or acting the fool, just standing there quietly holding their signs. I ignored them and didn’t engage them in any way. Throughout the day, I saw other attendees engaging them in polite conversation. Another attendee said that she had given them both bottles of water on this hot and steamy Midwest June day, and she said they accepted them graciously. What I didn’t see was anyone raging at them or giving them The Business.

So I’m curious what Dopers think is the best response to a situation such as this? Do you think it’s best to ignore the haters? Kill them with kindness? Engage them in polite conversation? Or call them out for their shit?

Sounds like they were handled well. In some circumstances a more confrontational (non violent) approach can also be appropriate.

One hypothetical possibility that I do not recommend and only mention based on historical precedent and totally advise against is to have some of your group distract them with kindness while you find their cars and pour sugar into their gas tanks. Again, DO NOT DO THIS!

The best way to deal with anyone like that is to take your sails out of their wind, which is exactly what your group did.

I believe the wisdom here has been to bend over backwards and pander to them in the miniscule chance they won’t vote for Trump if you give them everything they wanted anyway.

I agree. Nothing throws cold water on the fervor of a protest like, “Eh, nobody really cares.”

Now, if the protesters had been “in your face” obnoxious, borderline violent, then it’s a situation-by-situation assessment.

Yeah, you don’t have to be a whipping boy. To paraphrase John Wayne in The Shootist: “I won’t be wronged, I won’t be insulted, and I won’t be laid a hand on . I don’t do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.”

If you have your own sign, you could join them.

If you choose to engage with them, in my experience I find it most enlightening to just ask questions. It’s the best way to get somebody to tell you their honest feelings, since it comes across as non threatening.

And if I ask enough of the right questions, I might even give them something to think about.

The Potosi haters didn’t exactly bring their A-game, sign-wise.

It says “Leave the kid’s alone” [sic], don’t know why it didn’t load fully.

Let me try; I cropped it.

I suppose you could ask him “what’s an alone?” But you’d just get a “whaaaa?”

But if you asked “why do you think gay people want to be with kids?” And “aren’t you worried about men who molest little girls?” you might learn something about this guy’s deluded thinking.

I’m not saying you’d change his mind, and it might just be drivel, but you might find it interesting.

If not, I’d suggest just ignoring them altogether. As in, literally pretend that they don’t exist.

I’ve kind of felt the same way about groups like the Westboro Baptist Church for quite a while. These people want attention, so don’t give it to them. Do not feed the troll. I don’t think that strategy works for every situation, but when they’re a tiny minority at an event why give them the kind of attention they so desperately want? Either ignore them or be polite.

We had a handful of them at the last Pride Festival I volunteered for. If you tried to talk to them they would shout their slogans even louder and ignore you. The solution?
Surrounding them totally with taller pro Pride signs while loudly singing various tunes. Unless you got pretty close you didn’t even know the protesters were there at all.

Decades ago I was in Topeka and my friend (a son of Topeka) and I were driving through town and we saw the WBC with their signs out. I told my friend I was going to go get some Silly String, drive around, and hose the shit out of them. My friend’s face darkened and he told me, in no uncertain terms, DO NOT do that. He said that they’d remember my license plate number, find out who I am via their contacts in state government, and make my life hell. He was serious.

Yeah, I agree with iiandyiiii.

When you’re doing a public event, the overwhelming majority of people who come are the proverbial choir, as in “preaching to the”. It’s empowering for many of them to feel plural instead of isolated, or to see how many of us there actually are, plus supporters and all that. But the few who come who don’t see eye to eye…

The goal, always, is to communicate. Communication is power. Communication is how you change things. It’s what they’re on hand to do, too, of course, with their dissenting protest signs and all, but if you can engage with them and have an impact, even on one out of ten of them, that’s how you make so much difference in the long run. Changing people’s minds, not just trying to outnumber them and rally people to your cause.

ETA: that’s if they’re approachable and will engage. i.e., not Westboro Baptist type behavior.

Seems to me the most effective way would be to pretend to be one of them. You could mingle with them and hold up signs to the effect of “I am Nazi and I Oppose LGBT” or whatnot. By doing so you’d suddenly turn the tables on them; now they are the ones trying to figure out a non-violent way to deal with someone and they can’t get you to go away and you are tainting their message - especially if the media is there taking photos of you while you “represent” the haters.

No offense, but 5 seconds of thinking would reveal just how utterly moronic that plan is. In fact it sounds like a plan you would suggest to someone you want to ruin their life.

Confetti and streamers, whilst dancing around them?

You grabbed the link to the album instead of the link to the photo. They make it non-intuitive to know you’re doing that. The link to the photo should end in a photo extension like .jpg or .png.

Uh no. That’s not how that would go at all.

Being called a groomer is a pretty grievous insult. What should a person do about that?