Why I am no longer a supporter of
Coffee Party USA.
August 6, 2016
I may someday decide to blog more details explaining it all.
For now, suffice it to say that I first volunteered (and donated) to help this organization in October of 2012. My first email expressing concerns about censorship was in May of 2013.
In May of 2015, I decided to end monthly contributions while still an active volunteer in their Newsroom work group. It was not my intention to leave the work group or the organization. I simply logged on to PayPal to stop the contributions because I was growing more and more concerned about how the organization censored speech on their main Facebook page.
That decision to suspend contributions resulted in the immediate loss of access to the Coffee Party Facebook page as a contributor, as well as to the Newsroom work group pages used to communicate and coordinate with other Newsroom volunteers. As president Debilyn Molineaux explained it in her email to me of June 4, 2015, “Our Newsroom policy is that editors on the page must be dues-paying members.”
Even after some dialog with board members and their expressed willingness to “work with me” if I was having financial difficulties (I wasn’t), I thought it best to leave. I was uneasy about the tone and temperament of the organization and its leadership. That’s why the posts on the pages here on my blog end when they do.
In December of 2015, I posted a Comment as just another Facebook friend. The Comment can no longer be seen as it was deleted. I soon discovered that I had been completely banned from Commenting on and even Liking any posts or the Coffee Party main Facebook page itself.
No warning was given, and no meaningful explanation has been forthcoming despite repeated requests to Board members and to the president, Debilyn Molineaux.
What as the Comment I made that was so worthy of such swift action?
It was about the arbitrary way in which the organization censors speech.
This might be the textbook definition of irony. I was banned and exiled for complaining about censorship.
All of the email and Facebook Messenger evidence I have kept – in addition to the first-hand experience I have as a volunteer – points to an environment inside the Coffee Party that is so toxic and so corrupt that individual volunteers and board members can and do arbitrarily decide who will have a voice and who will not.
To my knowledge, they have never published rules and guidelines so that members and the public know how to avoid violating whatever rules exist. I pressed for just such information to be made public while I was a volunteer. The idea was rejected ostensibly because it would somehow then be used against the organization by trolls desirous of ways to foil the organization.
The root defense trotted out most frequently by leaders in the Coffee Party for censoring speech and exiling members is what they try to defend as their right to decide how they will control the conversation so as to keep it in line with their Civility Pledge. On some level, I suppose that’s their prerogative. Again, the irony. As a 501(c)4, they want a voice in politics and the public square but only so long as they can control the voices that can speak.
Even after being censored and banned, and after more email dialog in January of 2016, I decided I still wanted to help. I restarted my monthly contributions, and I signed up at the web site as a volunteer.
After all the enthusiastic auto-generated emails thanking me for donating and volunteering, I wasn’t being contacted. I made some email inquiries.
This is what I received via email on February 14, 2016:
We are refunding your membership.
Sometimes there is not a right fit. This is one of those situations. In your interactions with Coffee Party USA, we have found that our communication is constantly challenging and stressful to many in the organization. This detracts from our stated goals.
I wish you well,
Debilyn Molineaux, Coffee Party USA
More irony, no? No love even on Valentine’s Day for anyone who dares to ask why the Coffee Party censors speech and why they deny membership and participation by those who take them and their Civility Pledge at its word.
As a member or supporter of the Coffee Party, I pledge to conduct myself in a way that is civil, honest, and respectful toward people with whom I disagree. I value people from different cultures, I value people with different ideas, and I value and cherish the democratic process.
I guess that’s what “challenging and stressful” must mean.
The rest of this section of my blog is unchanged. It’s a permanent record of some of my contributions to this organization. It reveals, I hope, the manner and sincerity with which I approached fulfilling the Coffee Party mission, and how I tried to embody core values which they profess to also hold such as Authenticity & Transparency, Integrity & Clarity, and Inclusiveness.
One last twist of irony in the form of a question.
When the Coffee Party leaders actively decide whom they will allow to speak and to become members – dues-paying membership being a requirement to even submit an application to be screened in order to then have approval to run for office – whom do you think they’ll accept and whom do you think they’ll exclude from membership?
This organization had so much promise. It’s so sad to see how it has been and continues to be squandered. Perhaps the members will someday vote to change who runs the organization, but so long as those in power get to decide who runs for office, I’m not sure how that will change.
That’s the final – and fatal – irony.
My original content posted to the Coffee Party blog, http://ourcoffeeparty.org/author/greg/
The promo on the Coffee Party main Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/coffeeparty/posts/10201399632578297, for an online radio call-in show I guest hosted. Here’s the link to the BlogTalk Radio show recording itself, http://www.blogtalkradio.com/coffeepartyusa/2014/01/21/p1fd-are-we-living-up-to-dr-kings-dream-w-ith-guest-host-greg-russak
Another Coffee Party online radio show in which I was asked to guest host, https://egbertowillies.com/2014/04/26/pdr-greg-russak-transpartisanship/
“Nails on a Chalkboard: The Implosion of Coffee Party USA”, a blog post by a former board member, Michael Charney, in the aftermath of “ViridianGate”.
This page provides quick information about Coffee Party USA and, on the sub-pages, lists the posts I’ve made to the Coffee Party USA Facebook Page as a member of its newsroom staff.
Who is Coffee Party USA?
“Coffee Party USA is a grassroots, non-partisan movement that aims to restore the principles and spirit of democracy in America.”
OurCoffeeParty.org, where you will find original content published by members (including me).
Listen to and call in to the best and most informative Internet radio shows being produced today.
CoffeeParty News where you can keep up with – and BE THE MEDIA by suggesting “Scoops” of your own – centered on, “Fact-based, solutions-oriented, people-powered news for the 99%.”
Other Scoop.it pages include Coffee Party Equality and Coffee Party Feminist.
Before you read, watch, or listen to anything and believe it, keep this “handbook” in mind.