A column – Protest this, protest that.

A note from JG – Last week, I placed a post on Facebook asking for feedback about the future direction of this blog. The consensus was that regular visitors would like to see continuing photography and more writing from me. I have no clear idea what I’ll write about. I guess anything that interests me, and I hope you too. There will surely be some thoughts about photography, but not today. I am not committing to any regular schedule. I will write every now and then. So here is my first column.


It’s much warmer in Asheville today, and everyone is out and about. I walked around for a bit and ran into several musicians and a Michigan State fan. (He was very happy.) Abby the Spoon Lady was out, as well as several other small groups of buskers, a guy playing the accordion, and as always, several hippies with dreads and banged up acoustic guitars.

The heart of downtown Asheville is a central plaza called Pack Square, which usually serves as protest central. The typical protest is against war. Veterans against war. Women against war. Anyone against war. I have no problem with any of these folks, since I am against war too. Aren’t you? You should be. Then there are the anarchists protesting the 1% and anything to do with government. Asheville does have some of the nicest anarchists you would ever want to meet, so I don’t have a problem with their protests, even though I generally like many things government provides, and I wouldn’t mind joining the 1% – as a philanthropist, of course. I think I would make a really good philanthropist when I grow up.

Several weeks ago, there was a rather large group protesting drones.

Now hold on.

I like drones. In fact, I’d love to have my own drone. I’d attach my GoPro video camera to it and invade the privacy of one and all. I can think of any number of cool things I’d like to do with a drone. And not one of them involves killing people. Besides, who can argue with the concept of using drones rather than putting photographers on the ground.

Today’s protester was a lone woman with a very large sign protesting circumcision of babies as a violation of human rights. None of the hippies with acoustic guitars were playing anti-circumcision anthems. She was completely on her own. Even circumcised babies were ignoring her, though a few uncircumcised babies may have been agitated at the whole idea.

As I’m standing on the busy corner considering whether or not to take a picture of the woman and her sign, I was approached by a very old gentleman with a thick foreign accent. I’m guessing Eastern European. He pointed to the woman and her sign and said “ Sir, can please tell me… circumcision, is what?”

I’m assuming he didn’t understand the word in English. It was a translation problem, not a concept problem. Recognizing there are not a lot of Jews left in Eastern Europe, the guy just might not know, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. I explained, while discreetly making the scissors movement with my fingers near my crotch, that circumcision is the removal of the foreskin of the penis, usually performed within a few days of birth.

The old guy clearly did not understand what I told him. My first instinct was to repeat what I said slowly and louder. Like that would aid understanding. But it didn’t seem like a very good idea on that busy corner. So I said the next best thing, slowly and louder. “Welcome to Asheville. Have a nice day sir.”  And then I headed back to my studio.

show hide 3 comments

Mitch - you should correct your spelling… it’s govermint…

JG - I think the technically correct spelling is gumint.

Mark Scola - Your circumcision story made me laugh. Wish you had the lady with the sign shot. I like your “view from the street” approach. You just might be the best ambassador for Asheville out there …

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