You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.

Connecticut’s anti-family power brokers are at it again. In today’s Hartford Courant, Rick Green has penned a column filled with fabrications and distortions about FIC’s role in persuading Enfield to fight the ACLU.

Rick Green thinks he has exposed a secret conspiracy between FIC and Greg Stokes. Instead, he has exposed himself to be a lazy excuse for a journalist who thinks that reading legal opinions from the comfort of the Courant’s Broad Street offices can substitute for the real shoe-leather work of journalism.

Rick Green is a classic practitioner of post-modern armchair journalism. If Green did his job and actually attended the 4/13 and 3/23 BOE meetings, FIC’s role in lobbying the Enfield Board of Ed would be no secret. Likewise, during last week’s hearings at U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, Green was nowhere to be found. It should be added that he never bothered to call me or Greg Stokes and interview either of us before publishing his column. Apparently, Green doesn’t even read The Journal Inquirer; if he did, he would know that Stokes and my relationship was far different from the cozy conspiracy that he portrays in his column.

U.S. District Court Judge Janet C. Hall’s ruling that holding graduations at a church would constitute a violation of the Establishment Clause has provoked a statewide furor and discomforted the apparatchiki of Connecticut’s cultural left.

Judge Hall’s decision gave ordinary people a firsthand glimpse at the bitter fruits of radical judicial activism. In this case, a local community will not be allowed to decide for itself where it will hold its graduations. As a consequence, step-parents, grandparents, and extended family will likely be precluded from witnessing graduations due to facility limitations.

The public outpouring of support for Enfield has left Connecticut’s cultural left mystified. They were on the wrong side of public opinion on this issue.

FIC has exposed this situation for what it is. Anti-family forces have been embarrassed by this exposure. They are enraged at FIC for being its source and are lashing out.

Nowhere is this more visible than in Rick Green’s screed against FIC in today’s Courant. In it, Green attempts to employ a classic rhetorical tool– making an issue of a red herring– in this case FIC’s involvement in lobbying the Board of Education. But his poorly informed, slanted excuse for journalism has failed to fool the people of Enfield. For them, FIC’s involvement is old news.

Make no mistake: Green is trying to manipulate public opinion by crafting a narrative that bears little resemblance to the truth. It is a classic trick in political science: when public opinion is not in your favor, attempt to focus it on a red herring or manipulate the facts to fit a storyline that favors your side.

In this case, Green is trying to fit the Enfield graduations into his faux-populism narrative of 2008. Unfortunately for him there is overwhelming evidence to show that popular opinion played the decisive role in the course of action taken by the Board of Education.

The people of Enfield have been following the issue closely and see his dissembling for what it is. They have attended Board of Education meetings in droves. Many more have watched the meetings on E-TV and followed the issue in The Journal Inquirer. In the age of monopoly media, a columnist like Green could get away with making misrepresentations in his column. Now, alternative media and televised public meetings make it easy to hold lazy journalists like Green accountable.

Rick Green wants to take a few emails released during discovery and make them the story. He wants to focus attention on the emails, because he knows that when it is focused on the outrage of students and parents, the left loses.

A Tale of Two Newspapers

The story of the fight over First Cathedral has been a tale of two newspapers, as much as it has been a tale of events in Enfield. Alex Wood and Ed Jacovino of The Journal Inquirer have written fair, accurate, and insightful articles on the topic. In contrast, The Hartford Courant has been almost completely out to lunch… to the point that columnists no longer do fieldwork or interview principals.


The first skirmish in the graduation battle actually occurred on January 26, 2010—long before FIC became involved with the issue. Amidst a heated floor discussion, the Board of Education voted to return graduations to the high schools. Neither students nor parents were happy about that discussion.

At the subsequent BOE meeting, students from Enrico Fermi and Enfield High Schools showed up to protest the decision to return the graduations to the high schools. At that meeting the students of Enrico Fermi High School presented a petition with hundreds of signatures on it to the Board of Education. In the face of a standing-room-only crowd filled with students, the Board agreed to put a motion to rescind on the agenda of the next Board meeting.

The next regular Board of Education meeting occurred on 02/23. At that meeting, students from Enfield High School presented their petition to the Board of Education and the Board voted to rescind its January decision. Although FIC sent out an email alert that day, only 2-3 FIC members showed up to testify in favor of the motion to rescind.

It was only subsequent to the motion to rescind that FIC became involved in lobbying the issue. There were two reasons why FIC decided to lobby to have graduations returned to First Cathedral:

(1)  To make sure that Enfield offered a graduation ceremony that fairly accommodated the families of the town.

(2)  To protect the civil rights of First Cathedral. The First Amendment requires that churches be treated equal to other organizations in the public square.  We wanted to make sure that First Cathedral was not discriminated against in selecting a location.

As The Journal Inquirer elaborates, the relationship between FIC and BOE Chairman Greg Stokes is not the cozy relationship that Rick Green portrays in his column. On March 23, we went to the Board of Education meeting expecting to lose the vote. It was only after the task force of principals provided an apples-to-apples cost of the venues that First Cathedral again became a viable possibility.

Although FIC played a key role in lobbying the matter, it would have been for naught were it not for the overwhelming support of students and parents on this issue. If you go back and watch the Board of Ed meetings you will see that students and parents overwhelmingly wanted the Board of Ed to return to First Cathedral.

Green’s Anti-Family, Anti-Populist Bias

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

Green’s bias against pro-family activists is on display in his column. For Green, it is suspect for FIC to do things he considers permissible for the forces of the secular left. It is a “conspiracy” for FIC to connect those in need of legal assistance (Enfield) with counsel (ACLJ). But he has no such problem with the Does retaining ACLU and Americans United. For Green, public-interest law firms are only good when they represent his interests. But when they represent pro-family forces, they are somehow sinister or illegitimate.

The same could be said for organizations that engage in lobbying like FIC. For Green, it’s okay for the ACLU or, say, Sullivan and LeShane to lobby the BOE. But FIC’s role somehow de-legitimizes the decision of the BOE. We worked towards a similar objective for different reasons. The BOE was interested in cost and convenience. FIC was interested in protecting the civil rights of First Cathedral and making sure the graduation ceremony accommodated the families of the town.

In his column, Rick Green shows why he is not an elected official by admitting that he thinks this overwhelming public support to be irrelevant to the decision. Additionally, he shows his true colors: that contrary to his 2008 assertions, he is not a populist and looks down on popular opinion with disdain.

Back then, his argument was much as it is now— it was okay for out of state unions to pump hundreds of thousands of dollars into an anti-constitutional convention campaign; but FIC’s support for the “Vote Yes” campaign somehow de-legitimized it. Ultimately, when you peel back the masks, his argument is that the secular left has a place in the public square— but social conservatives do not deserve the same rights to lobby and fight for what they believe.

Make no mistake: the anti-family power brokers of Connecticut’s Left consider the opinions of the common man and woman to be a hindrance to public policy, not the proper objective of governance.

The continued ferocity of Green’s attacks show that FIC has become a formidable force. It is also shows how much Connecticut’s anti-family power brokers detest our effectiveness at thwarting their agenda.

6 Responses to “Rick Green’s Yellow Journalism: All The News That’s Fit To Fabricate”

  1. […] We encourage you to read FIC’s whole response here. […]

  2. on 07 Jun 2010 at 2:36 pm.

    Um, why was the FIC even at an Enfield Board of Education meeting?

  3. on 07 Jun 2010 at 2:43 pm.

    Oh, and did Sullivan & LeShane contact the Enfield Board of Education? I’d like to hear more about that. (The FIC isn’t the only special interest group I’d like to see leave Enfield.)

  4. on 07 Jun 2010 at 3:24 pmLarry Laureno

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Peter. I’m sick of the courant’s mostly left wing feature columnists. The courant is a Left Wing biased ” newspaper .” They are full of their individual opinions coming from their lob- sided liberal education. Rick Green , as certified by the facts was irresponcible . He certainly was lazy . What the Courant is supposed to be doing is reporting the news. This is extremely difficult to do if as a journalist you do not have the self – discipline to check
    your personal biases at the door before you begin to investigate the story. We could give Rick Green the benefit of the doubt and say perhaps he does not realize that he is biased in the first place. That would be the most charitable way we could characterize Mr. Green. Congratulations to the Journal Inquirer for doing their ”due diligence”. Larry Laureno , East Granby.

  5. on 07 Jun 2010 at 7:06 pmJ Neville

    Right on Peter. Perhaps Mr Green is an example of why the Hartford Courant is having trouble selling newspapers. Even without there elitist point, they are increasingly irrelevent but when they are so clearly out to lunch, they only speed up the process. For that I thank Mr Green.

  6. […] is lashing out at FIC here and we said all there is to say about the Courant columnist attacking us here and here. What interests us now is an institutional bias on The Courant’s Ed Page that goes […]

Leave a Reply