So civil!

Kristin Mink confronted Scott Pruitt at a restaurant.

We deserve to have someone at the EPA who actually does protect our environment, somebody who believes in climate change and takes it seriously for the benefit of all of us, including our children. So, I would urge you to resign before your scandals push you out.

Polite, honest, and accurate. She didn’t punch him, throw his table over, or kick him in the balls, even though he deserves all of that. It was an effective protest.

If you see one of Trump’s lackeys in public, and you don’t lean over and tell them, “Resign!”, you aren’t as brave as Kristin Mink.

Make ’em cringe a bit when they’re out in public. It’s the least you can do.


  1. nomadiq says

    Pruitt looked absolutely petrified. I guess he got a lesson in what power actually looks like, and a vision of his own pathetic weakness.

  2. indianajones says

    I hate to do it, because I absolutely love the point being made and very very close to how, but I cannot condone this action. Leave the kid at the table and don’t point at said kid during, and we are golden. The kid did not consent to being a part of this otherwise beautiful protest. (And yes i get it, didn’t consent to the environment or the government or anything much else either. That does not make it ok IMO to make them part of this.)

  3. F.O. says

    @indianajones: The whole point of a protest is to make people in power uncomfortable for the politics they support.

    The more uncomfortable you make them, the more effective the protest.
    (Note: “make uncomfortable” does not mean “physically threaten”)

    Seriously, why would you want to insulate a political figure with a public role fucking the country and the planet from the result of their *actions*, the *choices* they make and the politics they *support*?

    You see evil, you call it out.

  4. chigau (違う) says

    indianajones #2
    …Leave the kid at the table …
    Her argument was about her son. Why should he be excluded?

  5. joel says

    Trump apologists show up here to call for civility:

    Keep in mind that Trump himself is a strong contender for least civil person in America.

  6. komarov says

    No doubt there’ll be some learning effect eventually, but it might be the wrong one. For instance, I’m sure deserving targets could afford private booths or even reserve the whole restaurant just to keep the rabble away.

  7. vucodlak says

    @ indianajones, #2

    I disagree. Yes, her son probably was uncomfortable, but she did what she did even more for him than for herself. I’d argue that it’s not much different than vaccination- kids can’t consent to those, and they generally don’t like them, but they absolutely need to get them as soon as possible anyway.

  8. Saad says

    drksky, #6


    No he didn’t. He looked mildly annoyed an bemused. Like she was holding a turd under his nose.

    Exactly. Let’s not delude ourselves into thinking we have some sort of power over them or that Pruitt is concerned with how feel feel about things. He can choose to put a sufficient amount of distance between himself and a protesting mother whenever he wants. It’s out of sight, out of mind for these people.

  9. indianajones says

    Damn I wish these things didn’t come out at near midnight my time. I will reply, but right now it is breakfast time followed by shit I gotta do this morning. Back in a few hours.

  10. billyjoe says

    PZ Myers,

    Shoe on the other foot:

    I am an anti-abortionist. I believe fervently that abortion is murder. If I ever see you having lunch in public, I’m going to go up you and call you a murderer. I will do it calmly and I won’t punch you in the face, or throw your table over. And I won’t even kick you in the balls, even though you deserve it. And I’m going to tell all my fellow anti-abortionists to do likewise and make you cringe a bit whenever you’re out in public.

    In other words…be careful what you wish for.

    (I am not a anti-abortionist, and I don’t believe abortion is murder. I am also not a Republican, nor a Scott Pruitt supporter)

  11. ck, the Irate Lump says


    Anti-abortionists already do worse than that to abortion doctors. Not only will many of them find the doctor while out in public and scream at them that they’re murderers in order to exclude them from society, but they’ll also follow them around, sabotage their equipment and vehicles, firebomb their workplaces and homes or just outright murder them. If anti-abortionists did these kinds of things to abortion doctors, it would actually be a vast improvement.

    So, this devil’s advocate fake threat is completely hollow.

  12. indianajones says

    Ok, first off, my apologies. I seem to have jacked a thread that really should be about ‘Scott Pruitt: Just how shit is he?’ or something.

    Having said that..

    @ FO. I whole heartedly agree. People in power should be made to feel uncomfortable and exactly as you have defined it. They should not be insulated and evil should of course be called out if possible. That is not where my concern, my slight disagreement, lies. See below.

    @chigau. No her son should not be left alone. If that were required, I would not do this form of protest. In this case, and I am making assumptions here, it seems to me that it would not have been required. Who was holding the camera? Presumably someone this child could have been left ‘alone’ with while Kristin held the camera herself and did not so much as leave the room. The scare quotes being there to emphasize that degrees of aloneness vary. I might leave a child alone for 2 minutes at home to take a bathroom break. I would not do it for 3 hours while I go food shopping down the street even though this kid has been sleeping through the night for the past 6 months for instance.

    In terms of exclusion, I can see several reasons why this child should be excluded. To preface those reasons, the arguments as presented in this video (and again I emphasize that I agree with them) are not made stronger by having a child on your hip. The script could just as easily refer to ‘all children’ vs ‘my son’ without losing any of its veracity. And off the top of my head there are several very much non trivial risks with having the son included, besides the consent thing which I go into below. First off does she look vaguely Latino? ‘Nuff said there about the truly abhorrent immigration policies currently in sway both in the US and Australia. Secondly, overzealous security guards who know they can crash tackle/taser/handcuff/detain just about anyone they want to because of course they can. Thirdly wingnuts who now know that Kristin has a son, what her son looks like, and are more than willing to act on it. Just off the top of my head. There is also in this whole thing the most miniscule of cracks for Pruitt defenders to say ‘Oh fuck you, stop trying to use kids as leverage you pearl clutching leftie snowflake’. Unjustifiable in any reasonable way for them to use this argument of course, but having a kid on your hip opens this crack just a smidgeon wider.

    A quick note on victim blaming. My 3 reasons just given do have an element of that, I admit it. I want to make clear that if any of the nasties I imply had or will happen, it would absolutely not be Kristins fault. I long for the perfect world where it would not even occur to me that either she or her son could potentially be at risk following this encounter. We are a long way from that world.

    @vucodlak. I agree that consent is not an issue in many situations and your vaccination example is spot on. However I think in this situation consent is an issue. And in situations where consent is an issue, it either exists or it does not. In this particular case consent does not exist as children can’t consent. I don’t think that performing an action without consent anyway solely on the grounds that it is merely uncomfortable is good enough. It would also have to have something like massive public good in the most humane and risk free way possible to use your vaccination example for instance. That is where I see the difference you refer to as being.

    Anyway, that is as well as I can explain the answers to the questions asked of me. I hope that does it, and I shall now retire so we can all get back to bashing on shit Trump policy makers that are shit.

  13. says

    He oughtta try being separated from his world and thrown in a cage. He’s clearly OK with that. He’s probably OK with waterboarding, too.

  14. chigau (違う) says

    indianajones #15
    First off does she look vaguely Latino?
    ‘Nuff said.

  15. vucodlak says

    @ billyjoe, #13

    As ck, the Irate Lump says at #14, some anti-choicers do a great deal worse. The vast majority don’t ever go beyond shouting insults from the safety of a crowd of like-minded protesters, though. Why?

    If you believe, sincerely and completely, that doctors who perform abortions are murdering innocent, helpless babies every day, then why would you think they would have the slightest qualm about doing the same thing to you? In many states it’s legal to pull out a gun and start blasting away, if you feel threatened (as long as you’re a white man and your victim is not, or is at least of lesser wealth and status).

    For that matter, if you honestly believe that you’re standing across the table from a modern day Dr. Mengele, you don’t stop at calling him names. The moral thing to do, when faced with a death camp officer who is responsible for countless horrific murders, a person above the law in every way, is to kill the fucker while his guard is down. You walk up to him, you thank him for all the great things he has done for the fatherland, and then you stab him in the neck with your steak knife.

    Anti-choicers, however, neither fear abortion doctors, nor (usually) take such extreme actions. Now, it could be that they’re all civility-obsessed cowards, but the truth is even simpler: They don’t believe their own lies. They’re completely and utterly full of shit, and they spout nonsense about abortion doctors being Satanic baby-killers because it lets the anti-choicer get away with any horrible, greedy, bigoted thing they might want to do. Because nothing is worse than their enemy, the Satanic baby-killer, and all things are fair to stop SBKs. Even things that don’t have anything to do with abortion, like tax cuts for the rich.

    That’s where your counter-example really falls apart. Your hypothetical anti-choicer doesn’t really believe the abortion doctor is a murderer. They might do what you say, but they’re only doing it to feel the warm rush of self-righteous indignation. It’s a game to them, though they’d never admit as much. It’s a game that gets people killed when some people inevitably fail to realize that it’s really about proving how much better the player is than those icky liberals, but the players don’t give a damn about that.

    Scott Pruitt, on the other hand, is doing things that very demonstrably have serious negative consequences. We know exactly what happens when we don’t have appropriate environmental regulation and enforcement: People get cancer. Rivers catch fire. Wildlife dies. City air becomes poisonous to the sick, elderly, and children.

    I’m not saying someone should kill Pruitt. What I am saying is that there is a massive difference in the situation described in the OP, and the one you described. Anti-choicers are liars, and deep down the vast majority know they’re only playing a sick game in service of their egos. Kristin Mink spoke the truth, although I’m skeptical of the idea that his scandals will force him out.

  16. methuseus says

    First of all, having the child made it less likely the security detail would do anything.
    Second, what would make you more uncomfortable:
    Someone saying “Your policies are killing the children of this country” while civilly talking to you in a restaurant.
    Someone saying “Your policies are killing my child, who I have right here” while civilly talking in the same way.
    Having to look that child in the eye while being told you are killing them is much more effective.
    That’s not to say Pruitt has or does not have an ounce of humanity affected by this. I don’t know him well enough to say.

  17. raaak says

    Regarding @13,

    The free speech absolutist crowd had a bit going on when they were just about saving the soul of academia by allowing trolls to give talks in any university at any time. Now, they are just pathetic.

    If it was about absolute free speech, then these people should have cheered for this woman. But no, when they don’t like the political consequences of the speech, suddenly the principles of civility, efficiency or even “not being like them(meaning the right)” takes precedence.

    Suddenly free speech is not the number one issue in the whole universe and for the whole duration of human history. Suddenly we shouldn’t scream at the top of our voices so literal Nazis can march with their swastikas and demand ethnic cleansing. Suddenly, free speech takes a backseat. Suddenly, we need a conversation about how Gandhi or MLK didn’t protest violently.

    I am just curious. Do these people know what they are doing, or is it just sheer ignorance?

  18. indianajones says

    @methuseus. I wish I knew that your ‘first of all’ was true. But I saw, and the initial source was right here on Pharyngula, a 4 year old trying to calm her mother down so she did not get shooted just like her father had been right then and right in front of her not very many weeks ago. I am too sickened too look for it. As for your second of all, I believe I addressed that in my paragraph that starts with ‘In terms of exclusion’ above.

  19. hemidactylus says


    Ironically the exemplar of civility would be transcending your political disagreements with someone to recommend two books they wrote about evolution during a recent video conversation. Amazing concept. Unheralded. Instead we get…

    Meanwhile we converge upon Russia. The cheeto wanted to lock Hillary up. He could only dream. Look what happened to Navalny. That’s where we are headed. My Trump Derangement Syndrome is kicking in.

    Actually Sam Harris’s podcast with Masha Gessen was worth listening to. She writes scary books.