Will you thank Peter, Paul & Mary for telling NOM to stop using \“This Land Is Your Land\”?
August 30, 2010
by Andy Kelley
New Media Organizer, Courage Campaign Institute
If you hear a song being played at an event, it’s understandable to assume that the artist being featured supports the cause. After all, endorsements of musicians are common place within advocacy organizations, and a familiar voice helps lend legitimacy to a cause. To do so without permission would be to co-opt the groups name and to imply their endorsement of the event.
That’s why it was so shocking to Kathleen Perrin and many other participants in the Prop 8 Trial Tracker community when we first heard a Peter, Paul & Mary recording of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” in a video posted to the NOM Tour Tracker from NOM’s rally in Albany, NY. As Kathleen recounted on Friday in her front-page post (which includes video of the song being played at a NOM rally):
When I first heard this recording played in Albany, NY, I was stunned and deeply offended. Woody Guthrie and Peter, Paul & Mary are artists who have always unequivocally supported justice and equality for all.
I felt certain the surviving members of Peter, Paul & Mary would want to know of this grievous misuse of their recording, so I wrote to Peter Yarrow. In my correspondence, I provided a link to a video of the Albany rally and explained that their recording had been used at high volume to drown out the chants of “Equality” from the counter-demonstrators.
Mr. Yarrow responded, saying use of the song by NOM was “heartbreaking” and indicated he would be contacting NOM.
And Peter Yarrow did just that, sending a cease-and-desist letter to NOM. But Peter didn’t stop there, his letter went on to state “We strongly support the rights of all gays and lesbians to enjoy the rights and rituals of marriage that are enjoyed by their straight counterparts, and consider the abridgement of this right contrary to the sense of equal protection and fairness…” He went on to make an impassioned defense of equality for the gay and lesbian community.
His words are truly moving, not merely because of the force of passion with which they are spoken, but because of the powerful credence lent to those words by such a public and well known advocate as Peter, Paul & Mary. (A credence they refused to allow NOM to co-opt.)
We at Courage were so moved by their actions, and so inspired by the Prop 8 Trial Tracker/NOM Tour Tracker community that made this possible, that we decided to send Peter, Paul & Mary a “Thank You” card, which we launched on Facebook and Twitter over the weekend (and will be following up with an email action). The response from our community has been amazing so far and we want to keep the momentum going here on P8TT.
We’ll deliver your signature, along with thousands of other signatures, to Peter, Paul & Mary!
If you have thoughts on Peter, Paul & Mary’s courageous action, please share them in the comments as well.