POSTSCRIPT : Activist faces possibility of censorship over Progress Queens interview about BDS advocacy

UPDATED : Pauline Park responds to the possibility of censorship

By LOUIS FLORES

An LGBT activist, who led the campaign at the turn of the century to extend equal protections to trans New Yorkers under Municipal human rights laws, faces the possibility of censorship as an act of backlash to an interview the activist granted to Progress Queens.

The activist, Pauline Park, faces the possibility that her appearance will be cut by filmmaker A.J. Mattioli from the "Words" documentary, according to information obtained by Progress Queens. The "Words" documentary, released in 2016, was described as an examination of how communication serves as a form of self-identity and vice versa : "Mattioli Production's upcoming documentary 'Words' will explore how people navigate gender and identity in the open and evolving landscape of New York City," according to the documentary's entry on IMDB.com, an online film and entertainment database.

The Progress Queens interview that triggered the reported threat of censorship was conducted on the subject of unfounded personal attacks aimed at Ms. Park over her support for the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement challenging Israeli occupation, apartheid, and genocide.

After Progress Queens posted this report, Ms. Park released an official statement about the possibility that her appearance in the "Words" documentary would be removed :

A.J. Mattioli messaged me via Facebook yesterday to tell me that he was 'unfriending' me on Facebook and blocking me and that he was cutting me out of "Words," the documentary he interviewed me for in April 2015 and that screened in Manhattan in October 2016; it was puzzling that he would describe my reference to him in the Progress Queens interview as slander, as all I had said was that I'd met Rafaella Gunz (also interviewed for "Words") at that 2016 screening and that I told A.J., Rafaella, and Ariel Lipson that Rafaella's comments and those of Ariel's confirmed the truth of what I was saying on my Facebook page about false allegations of anti-Semitism and reïnforced the wisdom of my posting about it in the first place; those are both simple statements of fact and it is extraordinary that AJ characterizes them as 'slander.' Also extraordinary is A.J.'s characterization of the original interview as a 'snuff piece' and that he says that "advocates shouldn't be beating each other down" when I was simply responding to the attack piece by Rafaella Gunz; before Gay Star News published that screed, I had said nothing publicly about this exchange on my Facebook page. "Words" is A.J.'s film and as director, he certainly has the legal right to cut my interview segment out of the documentary, but given that he had praised my contribution at the time of the interview for the film and that it has nothing to do with the dispute that took place on my Facebook page in July, it is difficult to see what possible justification there would be for his doing so; I would not regard such an act as 'censorship' as it does not even rise to the level of an articulated and consciously political decision; it seems far more personal and I suspect disinterested observers would conclude that it was an act of retaliation for publicly defending myself against the smear campaign launched by his friend, Rafaella Gunz. If A.J. actually believes that "negative press for myself and/or Pauline is not something needed to be reported on," why would he object to my responding to the negative as well as baseless attack that Rafaella wrote for Gay Star News? The most revealing aspect of A.J.'s response to the query from Progress Queens, it seems to me, is that he refused to answer the question as to whether he had made the decision to cut me out of the film; it seems to me that we all have an obligation to be open and honest about our actions and take responsibility for them, especially when they involve something as public and consequential as a documentary about the LGBT community.

In the Progress Queens interview, Ms. Park expressed disappointment that Mr. Mattioli joined others in allegedly attacking Ms. Park over her support of the BDS movement. According to information obtained by Progress Queens, Mr. Mattioli reportedly reacted negatively to Ms. Park's mentioning him and his film during the course of the Progress Queens interview, and, it was as a consequence of those statements in the interview that Mr. Mattioli said he would cut Ms. Park's appearance from his documentary film.


The writer Rafaella Gunz appears, at left, in the second frame of this collage. In the fifth frame, appears, at left, the filmmaker A.J. Mattioli. Pauline Park, the activist, appears, at left, in the sixth frame. Source : Facebook/Fair Use


Contacted by Progress Queens via Facebook messenger, Mr. Mattioli, replied by issuing two separate statements, the first which read, "The only thing I have to say about that situation [is] that I wish her best in future endeavors but that article was a one sided tantrum and not necessary in a time when advocates shouldn't be beating each other down. It was a snuff piece. I would suggest reaching out to Raf Gunz and publish the entire threads exchange." When pressed about the possible threat of censorship that Ms. Park faced, Mr. Mattioli declined to address alleged plans to eliminate Ms. Park's appearance from the "Words" documentary by saying, in relevant part, in a subsequent statement, that, "… negative press for myself and/or Pauline is not something needed to be reported on."

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In his his first statement to Progress Queens, Mr. Mattioli was referring to Rafaella Gunz, one of two writers, who wrote pieces that were critical of Ms. Park over her support of the BDS movement. Ms. Gunz and another writer, Dana Beyer, made accusations in two separate articles written three years apart, with Ms. Gunz relying, in part, on Ms. Beyer's prior article as authority. Without interviewing anybody with personal knowledge about Ms. Park's long history of social justice activism, both writers accused Ms. Park of engaging in anti-Semetism, despite the fact that Ms. Park has a history of working with several advocacy groups, many that are majority Jewish, such as Jewish Voice for Peace, Jews Say No, Adalah-NY, and New York City Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, the latter which Ms. Park co-founded in 2011. The interview that was published by Progress Queens served as a fact check on the two pieces written by Ms. Gunz and Ms. Beyer, giving Ms. Park an opportunity to refute what she described as false allegations of anti-Semitism, opportunities that were denied to her in the pieces written by Ms. Gunz and Ms. Beyer, respectively. According to the Progress Queens interview, Ms. Park said that the recent article by Ms. Gunz triggered what she described as terse exchanges on her Facebook profile, saying about those exchanges that, "I think anybody who reads them -- could characterise them as vicious, as personal attacks, really, frankly, as a form of cyber-bullying."

In the Progress Queens interview, Ms. Park said that, "False allegations of anti-Semitism are lodged against Palestine solidarity activists, Jewish and non-Jewish, all the time. It is, in fact, impossible to do Palestine solidarity work without encountering and challenging false allegations of anti-Semitism." The false accusations of anti-Semitism take place, Ms. Park said, in part, because, supporters of the Israeli occupation of Palestine primarily use three tools to defend the occupation : pink-washing the occupation with language about Israel's record on LGBT civil rights, with language of homo-nationalism, and with false allegations of anti-Semitism, explaining, in part, that deflection was the primary goal of supporters of the Israeli occupation, because, ultimately, "There's no legitimate argument to support an illegal foreign military occupation that lasts for over 50 years," Ms. Park said, during the interview.

Ms. Park is a leading advocate for LGBT civil rights in New York City, and, by extension, the United States, and, more recently, she has emerged as a global advocate for human rights. In recent years, Ms. Park has participated in traveling delegations or has addressed gatherings in the Middle East, Asia, and across Europe on the issues of LGBT equality, human rights, and on the state of American politics, generally. Since the inception of Progress Queens, Ms. Park has offered the readers of Progress Queens political analysis on issues related to political campaigns, civil rights, and human rights. In 2002, Ms. Park led the campaign to extend equal protections to trans New Yorkers under the Municipal human rights laws. When that campaign won the extension of legal protections for trans New Yorkers, the Municipal law was signed into effect by then Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R-New York City). In 2004, the New York City Commission on Human Rights adopted guidelines for implementation of the new law that included language Ms. Park helped write as part of her work on the committee that drafted those guidelines ; her role in the campaign and the drafting of the guidelines was noted in an article published by The New York Times in 2005.

In addition to the possibility of censorship from the documentary filmmaker, Ms. Park faces another notable response to the Progress Queens interview. In a social media post shared on Twitter, Ariel Lipson, a source used by Ms. Gunz for her recent article, has announced his intention to issue a response to the Progress Queens interview. In Ms. Gunz's article, Mr. Lipson was critical of Ms. Park, and it is expected that Mr. Lipson would extend that criticism, if he follows through with his planned response, according to information obtained by Progress Queens.

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LETTER FROM NEW YORK : Pauline Park leader discusses BDS and false accusations of anti-Semitism facing Palestine solidarity activists [Progress Queens]