From the June 2001 Idaho Observer:
Rainbows' yearly STAND for rights being diluted by negative press
Dominant media stereotypes continue to divide American people
By Arelim Steiner
"...and the upright in heart will follow it"
Last week, I chatted with a local journalist regarding his sarcastic characterization of Rainbows. His "tongue-in-cheek" words, which he claimed were "based on truth", showed limited research and no personal experience.
For a journalist to explain to me that his article was "based on the truth" is like a teenage girl telling her mother that she is "a little bit pregnant." Pregnant is pregnant and truth is either truth or it is not.
News reporting should simply state the facts without prejudice or commentary. Opinion should be labeled as such. Taking liberty with the facts violates the ethical responsibility a news reporter has to the reading public. Misinformed sensationalism and inflammatory generalizations published for widespread consumption intentionally cast Rainbows in a dark light. It would appear that the article was intended to prevent the public from understanding the critical issue that Rainbows and the yearly Rainbow Gathering is bringing to the forefront: Do Americans have the right to peaceably assemble on public lands?
The typical Rainbow is not the penniless, unclean, drug abusing, homeless, panhandling, petty thief presented by popular media hype. Rainbows represent all cultures and classes, races and religions. They are hard working, well educated, socially active, patriotic, peace loving and ethically conscious. Some coach little league, some are lawyers, some are computer tech-heads, some are naturopaths, some sell cars and some bake cookies for PTA fund-raisers. True, alternative lifestyles are the usual way but, then again, I respectfully suggest you peruse Idaho individuality. Here, too, you may find yourself on the outside looking in to the statistical norm. Most of us Idahoans fervently believe the rights to due process, the right to family integrity, and the right to worship as we choose.
To typecast all Rainbows as unwashed, disease-carrying and drug abusive deadbeats would be to believe that all Americans who protest the income tax are anti-government extremists with militia ties. Just like every group, there are some who call themselves Rainbows who flimflam themselves and the system. But the numbers of errant Rainbows are no greater than the numbers of errant members of any subgroup of Americans.
In fact, there were less than 200 arrests among the estimated headcount of 23,000 at the Beaverhead, Mt. gathering last year. We suggest the percentage tallies well in Rainbow favor.
The debt is growing
The state of Montana has decided to bill the Rainbow non-organization for costs allegedly accrued to police last year's Gathering at Beaverhead.
Does the Rainbow non-organization 'owe' $137,000 to the state of Montana? Such expenses, inflated as they may be, should have been well covered by the FEMA funds that were liberated once Governor Racicot chose to call in their involvement through a declaration of emergency.
Our research suggests that an over reaction by our Federal public servants created a fear mentality among the local law enforcement. Counsel with experienced Rainbows was refused. Local law enforcement and Forest Service actions created needless burden and much expense.
It's time to stop spreading fear by isolating and categorizing. Fred Willen-brock's banner article in the May 23, 2001 Gem State Miner: "Rainbows coming? Officials say don't panic" shares an unbiased viewpoint of Rainbow history, local community concerns and law enforcement activity. Our favorite line is credited to Pend Oreille County Sheriff Jerry Weeks: "It's coming whether we like it or not. We need to prepare and be good hosts."
The Rainbow Gathering, more an organism rather then an organization, evolved around two major points.
First is to exercise the Constitutional right to peacefully gather on public lands. Second, the Rainbows gather to pray for peace, each to his own belief. The event is scheduled from July 1-7. If you can't attend, pray for peace at "Rainbow noon" on July 4th.
Those interested in researching the rainbow vibration can visit the following website: www.welcomehome.org. Not official, this is a list for folks who like to "talk rainbow." Rap 107 is a must read for first time gatherers. Benefits of Hosting a Rainbow Gathering is a historical compilation of articles reviewing events of past Gatherings.
Bureaucratic red tape dictates a permit for all groups over 75 persons wishing to assemble on national Forest Service lands. The Rainbows refuse to bow to such authority and thus nullify their Constitutional rights. Citing the First Amendment, Rainbows feel Forest Service policies force individuals from Constitutional protection and the Common Law. The Forest Service contends that in order to buffer the impact to federal lands, we the people must conform to Code (Title 36 CFR 251). Rainbows have been ticketed and convicted for refusing to sign such a permit. The dialogue between the Forest Service and individual Rainbows seems adversarial rather than cooperative. Isn't there more than one right way? Are alternatives being actively explored?
Ownership of public lands is an interesting topic in and of itself and beyond the scope of this article. Issues of stewardship and property rights demand our immediate attention. To stop media speculation that Rainbows disrespect the land or its resources, the Montana Standard (June 3, 2001) carried an article on Forest Service lands used by the Rainbow Gathering in 2000. District Forest Ranger Dennis Havig and Beaverhead-Deel Lodge Forest spokesman Jack de Golia state that, "There were 23,000 people here and you can find virtually no trash."
Sanitarian Larry Lahnar echoed the same view: "They did an excellent clean up."
Getting an early start
This year we started our Rainbow work back in February. In the past, our focus on our annual Rainbow Gathering begins in June. However, early this year the news media began raising public concern that the 2001 Gathering would be held in this area.
The Inland Northwest Christian Communities Ministries (INCCM) to the Rainbow Gathering has worked for the past months preparing for the "greatest harvest of the 21st century." Their "Hospitality Camp" will serve and minister at the upcoming event. Some 50 national church groups have pooled ideas, experience, resources and prayers. The traditional churches have both ignored and rejected the Rainbow as a "people group." Whether it is due to their appearance, their counter-culture politics or their overwhelming diversity, this tribal camp has long evaded mainstream ministry. The INCCM wants to change all that. It plans to "go out to the highways and hedges, and urge them to come in" and thus fill God's house. For information on volunteer opportunities, prayer activism or resource needs, visit www.FIMI.org or call (509) 536-3969.
These months of Rainbow research have raised many questions that remain unanswered. The Constitutional mind has been stirred. Is the Rainbow/Forest Service permit dispute an issue over property rights? Who really owns United States soil? Is it still We The People? Has our heritage been land grabbed out from under us? Why has the Forest Service initiated a tactical national Incident Command Team? Why did the rural residents of Beaverhead County suffer a tax following Gathering 2000? What constitutes a national emergency and how might one be administered? Are we all treated equally before the Law of the Land? We all need to find the answers.
I quote Samuel Adams,"...it does not take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate tireless minority, keen to set brush fires in the people's minds".
The Rainbow brings blessings in its wake. The joy in the camp spreads. The 'them and us' mentality no longer works. Holy things happen. Locals flourish in spite of the intrusion. Business is boosted. The reseeded land prospers. The soul is refreshed.
This year's gathering will be held at Cache Creek Meadows near Stanley, Idaho, approximately one hour's drive north of Boise, Idaho. Soon we will be donning clown garb, gathering first aid supplies, practicing a few silly songs and tricks and mixing the bubble soap with glycerin. Bespeckled with lensless glasses and a mega-magnifying glass, we will be dusting away hurts with our feather duster and tickling the funny bones of Rainbow children because a happy heart is good medicine.
Arelim Steiner has been involved with the Rainbow Family for many years. As a natural health care provider, she has traditionally volunteered her "on time" at the Gatherings with the Center for Alternative Medicine. Her "off time" is spent enjoying the experience of the Rainbow Gathering of the Tribes. Arelim has also compiled archives of excellent articles covering the legal dilemma and other pertinent issues involving the Rainbows. For more information, write Arelim at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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