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Western Chauvinists and Free Speech in Boulder

Western Chauvinists and Free Speech in Boulder

Gabrielle DeCristofaro • June 21 2017 • Progression • 

Because of the current political climate in America, people that didn’t normally think that they were able to voice their bigotry are feeling emboldened to do so now. On Saturday June 3, 2017 in Boulder, CO, one of the liberal meccas of America, a group of self-proclaimed “Western chauvinists” took to Pearl Street to express their apparent distaste for the attacks on their fragile masculinities (As you can probably guess, women are vastly underrepresented in this group). The group, known as Proud Boys Colorado, stood behind fences and police tape, while officers with guns and riot gear stood around them, while simultaneously marketing this event as a “Free Speech Rally”. The Facebook event page boasted 35 people attending, and 63 people interested. The event was slated to last from noon until 3 pm. I got there at 1 pm, and it was pretty much over by 1:15.

Boulder’s City Hall during the Free Speech Rally
Photo by Gabrielle DeCristofaro

I’ve attended several marches, protests and rallies in Denver since November, and this was comparatively so short-lived and uneventful, consisting almost exclusively of yelling matches, that the message was pretty close to lost. Besides me doing prior research about this event, and the counter-protest that was occurring simultaneously, I probably couldn’t have told you what their message was. One man held a sign that said “Muh Feelings” which I can only guess is a “critique” of liberal political correctness. At least one man was flying a flag that was clearly a Blue Lives Matter flag (Instead of red, white, and blue, the flag was just black and blue. And as self-proclaimed chauvinists, that type of defamation of the flag seems a little counterproductive to their goals). Also, one of the possible ringleaders did yell at the (mostly white) opposition crowd, that they were racist because they were judging him because he was white. The obvious contradictions of the messages were quite apparent. Especially when you turn to name-calling, as the same person told a girl in the crowd to cut the carbs out of her diet. Further, the size of their group was NOTHING compared to even the spontaneous protests that sprung up in Denver in response to the election of Trump and the hate that has become so common in America against different groups.

While my experience attending this event was relatively singular, other Colorado-based news sources did report arrests.

Counter-protesters speaking out again the Proud Boys
Photo by Gabrielle DeCristofaro

I do suggest going on their website, though. They describe themselves as “a fraternal organization of Western Chauvinists who will no longer apologize for creating the modern world.” And value such things as minimal government, closed borders, free speech, gun rights, entrepreneurship, and the veneration of the housewife. They claim to not discriminate against race or sexuality, but clearly against gender.

I also suggest checking out their movie reviews, such as the one on all of Quentin Tarantino’s films. And I can’t forget about this gem from their review of Animal House: “In this classic underdog story John Landis makes his directorial debut as a director.” Oh yea? His directorial debut as a director?

Counter-protesters in Boulder, CO
Photo by Gabrielle DeCristofaro

Clearly, they were pissing people off. A Korean woman next to me yelled something at them, and she explained to me it was an untranslatable Korean phrase that loosely meant “Go to Hell!” I also discussed with a couple about how the Proud Boys are anti-masturbation, which could explain their misguided rage (and lack of women showing support for them, if we’re being real, here). But honestly, except for the people that knew these events were occurring, the foot-traffic on Pearl Street seemed pretty oblivious to what was going on.

As a majority liberal city, I’m not quite sure what depths of the backwoods these guys came from. That’s America, though. There will always be pockets of extremism. Even if it isn’t real conservatism, just bigotry dressed as conservatism.

I’ve seen protests pop up on Pearl Street plenty of times since I moved to Boulder in April 2016. Sometimes I’m not sure how effective they will be. Mostly because it’s not surprising enough to get widespread press coverage to change legislation. I see a lot of these protesters going to these events, and then leaving, feeling as though they did their part in portraying themselves as one of those on the “right side of history.” Perhaps I can put my cynicism aside for a moment, though, and look at this as a way to raise the collective consciousness to a higher standard.

As a news outlet, we should always strive to be fair and unbiased. As self-proclaimed progressives, however, I think I can say: Fuck those guys!

Protester, counter-protesters and Police in riot gear disperse down Pearl Street
Photo by Gabrielle DeCristofaro


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  1. Thanks for the interesting read. I think it’s important that people know about this, but I’d want to add that one part struck me as not quite accurate. “As a majority liberal city, I’m not quite sure what depths of the backwoods these guys came from.” This assumes that conservative people or pockets of conservatives or extremists associated with that side of things don’t take up much space in Boulder, which is not my experience of living here. It’s important that people know that not only are they somewhere “out there”, they’re also our neighbors. There are Trump supporters (and their placards) in Boulder proper, and this is important to know because if others, like me, want to identify how issues are born or how to change the bipartisan climate, we have to remember that the other side isn’t hiding in the woods somewhere, they’re often next door.


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