By George Miller, 4-28-23
The forces of the Left in America hypocritically accuse the right of focusing on social issues and of advocating and committing violence. Yet, it is they who are aggressively attempting to wipe out longstanding moral codes, the family structure and to substitute government in its place. The right – and much of the center- are rather belatedly starting to push back against this in recent years.
The Left is furious that they should dare to do this and has enlisted much of corporate America, academia, government, political creatures, media and NGO’s in a desperate attempt to stop it cold, roll it back and destroy anyone and anything in its way. Forget about Democrats and Republicans- this goes way beyond party labels and platforms to the core of what families, sexual identity and the American way are supposed to be traditionally- more on that later.
As Publisher of Citizens Journal Florida, I haven’t written many opinion pieces. I haven’t had to, since we get plenty of opinion article submissions. We believe that development, infrastructure, safety and quality of life issues should be the main public focus in Nassau County and that lifestyle and faith issues are the realm of The People in most cases.
However, the Oldest Weekly Paper in the State and certain other forces on the Left have escalated the so-called “Pride” Parade and Festival conflict to headline fever pitch, so we have responded, hosting several articles on the subject and now this, since we have been asked what our position is. I can’t speak for all of our volunteers, so please consider this mine alone. Unlike the Oldest Weekly Newspaper in the state, we manage to separate our opinion and news pieces. This is clearly labeled “Opinion.”
There has been some nervous rumbling amongst the small but noisy local Left about the rapid rise of a civic organization, Citizens Defending Freedom (CDF, formerly CCDF), dedicated to constitutional and biblical conservative principles. We have seen snarky attack letters on CDF in the Leftist press, which is most of the press in the County except Citizens Journal Florida and a couple of small weeklies. Being the Founder and Executive Director of the Nassau County CDF Chapter, Jack Knocke is the lightning rod for leftist wrath against CDF and everything it stands for.
What Started the Current Battle
Knocke had the sheer gall to email the Fernandina Beach City Commissioners on March 27 to tell them that he thought it was inappropriate for the “Pride” group, which is composed of LGBTQ interests, to hold their festival adjacent to a public playground designed for children. He never demanded to prohibit Pride from assembling, didn’t advocate the dissolution of the group, or members’ arrest or imprisonment, or even “cancelation.” He just opined that children should be shielded from some of the vulgarity, behavior and ideas which are repulsive to most of the population, against the codes of several of the world’s major faiths, with an event that is arguably illegal. Last year’s event had a “drag queen show” and a “kids corner.” One of the booths was distributing lollipops. Children were getting or already had rainbow temporary tattoos and little rainbow flags- “grooming,” anyone?
Knocke has every right to express that opinion – without harassment and threats and the now common “cancelation” attempts by the self-appointed guardians of the current, politically correct narrative.
News-Leader Escalates Local Culture Wars
The opening salvo from The Oldest Weekly Newspaper in the State was a front page, above the fold, full page article in the news section of the April 5 paper edition. The title: “Knocke tells commission Pride events are inappropriate” was a bit deceptive, since his objection focused on the venue. the News-Leader chose to escalate the culture wars and also seemed to insinuate that Knocke and his organization were out of step with the city culture. They also highlighted some actions/priorities of CDF, sometimes deceptively.
Last year’s Pride Festival (see our article) featured a “Drag Queen Show” and “Kids Zone”. Knocke identified the Pride parade/Expo and picnic as two events being inappropriately sited. The News-Leader stated that Knocke wrote the Commission that such events should not be held in the city, but he was actually objecting to siting them where children are present, such as playgrounds, although he also mentioned “public places” separately. This is roughly analogous to objecting to library “drag queen story hours” aimed at children, which may soon be illegal in Florida.
Second Volley from News-Leader
The next salvo from the Oldest Weekly escalated the local culture wars by allocating a 932 word op-ed on the editorial page masthead position, “False Prophets in our Midst” (4-19-23 issue), by Cameron Moss, a self-described evangelical church co-founder and ex-Republican. He claims he voted Republican until 2016 (when you-know-who took over by storm). He sure doesn’t sound that way, though. While decrying “false prophets,” Mr. Moss seemed to ironically indicate that he favored baby-killing and sexual behavior proclaimed very sinful in multiple Bible books (and by several of the world’s largest faiths) that he purported to teach. He doesn’t merely tolerate but celebrates LBGTQ. So, who’s the real “false prophet?
His old party is now “dark, divisive,” full of hate, spews lies and conspiracies, at least as he tells it. To those of us who stay up on political meanderings, it was almost parody of a stale, cliché-ridden left-wing rant against anything to the right of JFK.
It seems that Mr. Moss was hyper-eager to tell us that he had attended a recent CDF event* on elections which was held at the First Baptist Church of Fernandina Beach. CDF extols the Constitution, Bible, freedom and focuses on addressing threats to them. Moss then generalized about his former political party (now “dark and divisive”) and expressed outrage over its alleged “fear, anger, judgement, bitterness and resentment”, “spews lies,” without explaining how this was related to an event which focused on both proven and alleged election fraud and manipulation, which he summarily dismissed as “election deniers.” * For your information, Mr. Moss, neither CDF nor First Baptist Church sponsored this event.
For your information, Mr. Moss, true Christians love the sinner and hate the sins, including their own. First Baptist Senior Pastor Zach Terry has repeatedly taught that people should love everyone, but be firm in their biblical teachings, and that all are welcome to the church. They may or may not like the message. Sexual immorality, which includes straights as well as gays and trans’, is only one area of many biblical teachings. We’re all sinners, but can be saved.
There were also twice the usual number of reader letters in that issue, looking orchestrated, mostly attacking Knocke and anyone who would dare question the event, total endorsement and effusive support of the LGBTQ lifestyle.
Not surprisingly, most letters published in the Oldest Weekly so far oppose Knocke, his position and CDF in general, while most reader comments in Citizens Journal Florida favor them. We have found that most people we have contacted are very reluctant to even discuss the matter and when they do, don’t want to be quoted. They have been intimidated by a campaign to shut down any objections to the campaign to re-engineer society.
One letter in The Oldest Weekly was from Melissa A. Moss, apparently an over-the-top Progressive. Any relation to Cameron Moss?
Social media content seems to indicate that she is Moss’ partner, who wrote a letter published in that same edition, signed as President of the Democratic Club of Amelia Island. She seemed indignant, even horrified, that CDF associates with (“in bed with”) the likes of:
- Young Conservative organizer Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA -“keeps a watchlist of radical professors and school boards” (horrors!!!!)
- Alliance Defending Freedom, which litigated against baby-killing drugs.
- Florida Citizens Alliance, which opposes books in schools (which are on the state’s own school prohibited list).
These actually seem like great reasons to support CDF. Thanks for mentioning these, Ms. (title/pronoun OK?) Moss. Maybe CDF’s publicity dept. has a job opening?
She then proceeded to confuse loving the sinner with loving the sin, not just tolerating LGBTQ, but glorifying it and selling it. Poor lost soul. Some loving advice is HERE for you and others similarly confused.
I spoke to four people who were at the event who all said it stuck pretty much to election issues and not the “abortion prohibitionists, trans-phobics, anti-LGBTQIA folks” stuff that Moss ranted about.
Here’s just one reaction:
Here are my thoughts. In summary, I am so grateful that these two men, after their personal trials, have chosen to stand tall and hold their ground on behalf of We The People; who believe as they do but lack the expertise to put it in front of questioning citizens.
I, like Glen Beck in his rant, as captured by Matt Couch, am sick and tired, worn out ( but never giving in) to this immoral nonsense (my thought not Becks).
I love my neighbor as myself as commanded by my Savior period. I abhor the besmirching, gaslighting and projection used in describing these men in particular and Christians in general, but I also know that those who hate Jesus will also hate those who Love Him.
This is a spiritual battle but I, as believer, am ready to stand in the gap for what is right till HE comes or calls me home. His choice not mine.
God, Bless America 🇺🇸
A sister in Christ
Jack Knocke’s 3-29-23 Email to FB Commissioners
From: Jack Knocke
Sent: Monday, March 27, 2023 4:53 PM
To: Bradley Bean <[email protected]>; David Sturges
([email protected]) <[email protected]>; [email protected];
[email protected]; ‘Chip Ross’ <[email protected]>
Subject: Pride Parade and events 2023
Has the City of Fernandina Beach approved a parade for the FB Pride
organization in June? Is there also an area in the park approved for the
Pride group to operate in our park?
Fernandina Beach Pride Family Picnic Day
Sat Apr 22nd 11:00am – 2:00pm
Fir Street Pavilion behind the MLK Center
3rd Annual Fernandina Beach Pride Parade and Festival
Sat Jun 10th 10:00am – 3:00pm
Central Park, 1200 Atlantic Ave, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034,
This is hugely inappropriate to expose our children in public places to
We polled the Commissioners and some members of the faith community on the initial News-Leader article and have only received these responses to date:
FB Commissioner Chip Ross
Mr. Knocke sent an e-mail to the City Commissioners stating that “This is hugely inappropriate to expose our children in public places to.” The “this” was the Fernandina Beach Pride Family Picnic Day and the 3rd Annual Fernandina Beach Pride Parade and Festival.
The News-Leader then reported the sending and reaction to the e-mail. The reporting appears accurate.
Mr. Knocke had a constitutional right to send his e-mail. The News-Leader had a constitutional right to report the events. The Pride Community have a constitutional right to assemble. I would hope your organization would support those rights.
FB Commissioner Darron Ascue
Mr. Knocke’s has the same right as any other citizen to express his concerns about issues with the City of Fernandina Beach. I was disappointed that local media outlets seemingly took a citizen’s concern and made it into an issue that I do not believe was Mr. Knocke’s intention. I personally spoke with Mr. Knocke to address his concerns in his email and I believe I was able to address those concerns and the issue was effectively resolved. I see no need for these kinds of issues to be played out in the media and hope that this event does not discourage citizens from voicing concerns with their elected officials for fear of being front page news.
Please let me know if you have any more questions.
“I remember journalism! They presented both sides and let you choose. The News Leader, like most media today, picks their truth, distributes it out, misrepresents, sandbags, mistruths and always come up with what their truth is before its over. That’s amazing how they do that! How about show two sides instead of just one for a change? “
Sent us enough for a full- length article
Pastor Zach Terry, First Baptist Church
Sent us enough for a standalone article- READ
Freedom of assembly and speech are constitutionally guaranteed, unless they endanger the public or are seditious. But, where does one draw the line on asking for special preferences, targeting children and hard-sell promoting the LGBT agenda? When someone treads on others’ lives negatively, it’s time to draw the line. In the case of children, it may even be illegal. In cases of other public display, it may be illegally lewd or just plain poor taste. Courts and legislatures are struggling with that now.
The LGBTQ community has had astonishing success in gaining government, business and NGO support, to not only accept their message, but to enthusiastically support and promote it. It has gone far beyond mere tolerance, to acceptance and even high pressure advocacy and promotion. Some say it even extends to – dare I say the G-word?…. grooming of children, via normalizing behavior abhorrent to large segments of the body politic and proscribed by widely accepted moral codes.
Pretty much anyone breathing and really thinking can see that this local tempest in a teapot is just a tiny part of a far larger, massive effort to normalize/mainstream LGBTQ behaviors. All of this would have been unthinkable a generation ago.
When many schools, media, corporations, pressure groups, politicians, now advocate it, even celebrate it, then it seems to be more acceptable, endorsed, even desirable and rewarding to impressionable young people and/or the confused. It becomes not only OK, but cool, resulting in emulation. So people who were not even thinking about it begin to consider it. The Oldest Weekly Paper appears to some as just one enthusiastic purveyor of this. That’s a far cry beyond just eliminating hostility and facilitating tolerance of alternative lifestyles.
For the Left/movement to automatically label anyone questioning the behavior/events as “hateful” or “extremist” is mostly incorrect (a few really do) and deceptive and only moves the parties farther apart.
The City has given full access, preference, even promotion, to Pride/LGBTQ, etc. events and ideology. They have flown the rainbow flag adopted as an LGBTQ emblem at City Hall, without extending corresponding privileges to other causes/organizations. Government firetrucks were used to actually lead last year’s parade. We don’t know who shouldered all of the true costs of doing this. The Pride group proudly displays the Chamber of Commence logo on its web site. Some City Commissioners and candidates have advocated making Fernandina Beach into an LGBTQ vacation and event destination. The former Mayor even read an approved declaration of enthusiastic support for the cause/community, approved by the Commission- so it’s official. Resistance to this helped swing the last city Commission election.
Then, there is the matter of an appropriate choice of venue. To hold events at City facilities frequented by children smacks of targeting. A parade on the streets is another matter. Anyone might be there. But, I saw lots of children there last year, waving their little rainbow flags, signs and wearing makeup and (mostly removable) movement symbols, parroting TV, commercials, movies, school.
Our article, again, on last year’s Pride event:
Knocke and CDF have been labeled “extremist” by some opponents, for such things as promoting traditional values, biblical principles and constitutional government. We’re not sure how or when these things became extremist and who decreed that. The real extremists are those who are working feverishly and aggressively to eliminate these without regard or even understanding of the consequences. Because Knocke is the point man, he’s currently taking the heat. But, there’s quite a force agreeing with him. Most have been silent and accommodating, but have been pushed too hard on this. You are seeing the belated beginnings of pushback against an overreaching movement which may be reaching its apogee, with a pendulum to swing back the other way. This whole affair is less about Knocke’s objection to an event venue and more about an attempt to shut down an organization with priorities that differ from the attackers and in the process intimidate others who might agree.
God help and protect all of us.
Meanwhile, the state is considering limits on such parades:
Could Florida curb parades with drag performers? Here’s what a new bill proposes.
A bill under consideration in Florida’s Legislature could curb gay pride parades in public places statewide if such events were deemed to be “lewd” and children were watching, say gay…
The citizens of Nassau County (and all of Senate District 4) owe a big thank you to our State Senator Clay Yarborough for co-sponsoring Florida SB 1438, “Protection of Children” (ed. note: now passed by legislature) which is about the following:
Prohibiting a governmental entity from issuing a permit or otherwise authorizing a person to conduct a performance in violation of specified provisions; providing criminal penalties; authorizing the Division of Hotels and Restaurants of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to fine, suspend, or revoke the license of any public lodging establishment or public food service establishment if the establishment admits a child to an adult live performance; specifying that the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation is given full power and authority to revoke or suspend the license of any person issued under the Beverage Law when it is determined or found by the division upon sufficient cause appearing that he or she is maintaining a licensed premises that admits a child to an adult live performance; prohibiting a person from knowingly admitting a child to an adult live performance, etc.
While this bill would not inhibit pride parades, it does authorize the Florida Division of Hotels and Restaurants to fine, suspend or revoke the license of a hotel or restaurant if the establishment admits a child to an adult-themed live performance. The bill was read for the second time on Tuesday, 4/4, with adopted amendments. The affiliated House bill HB1423 is now in the State Administration & Technology Appropriations subcommittee.
Other relevant articles in Citizens Journal Florida:
George Miller is Publisher and Co-Founder of Citizens Journal Florida, based in Fernandina Beach. He is a “retired” operations management consultant, software and publishing executive and manufacturing management professional.
The views expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal Florida.