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September 17, 2004

Crying Girl or Crying Wolf?

Rather than continue putting updates in the earlier post, I'm going to start a new one to deal with the questions surrounding the picture below. I will leave a pointer there with a note that there is more up-to-date information here.

These are the newpaper accounts of the event I've located so far:
Democrats accused of ripping Bush signs, The Washington Times, September 17, 2004.
Edwards greets supporters at airport, The Herald-Dispatch, September 17, 2004.

Rising Hegemon's The Bogus Assault -- Father Freeper of the Year (should buckhead not be able to serve) suggests that this picture is not what it's presented as being. No, it's not apparently a forgery, the picture is a real AP picture, but it may be political "theatre." In other words, what the picture portrays may be a posed scene that misrepresents actual events. If this is shown to be the case, this man is really no different from Dan Rather. Both deserve the excoriation of honest people everywhere.

When I searched the online Charlestion (WV) Daily Mail archives for articles on Phil Parlock I initially came up empty. My fault. I was searching the current online edition, not the archives as I thought. The area for that was off the bottom of my screen when I clicked on the "Search Archives" button. Once I noticed that, I did get the two summaries to the articles cited in the blog entry mentioned above:


Page: P1A Headline: SIGNS FOR BUSH TAKEN AT RALLY, FATHER, SON SAY Byline: SAM TRANUM DAILY MAIL STAFF Phil Parlock didn't expect to need all 12 of the Bush-Cheney signs he and his son Louis smuggled in their socks and pockets into...
Published: October 28, 2000
Words: 952


"We always try to give them a warm Republican welcome,' said Painter, a recent graduate of Marshall University. Phil Parlock's experience was less calm. The Huntington man said he was knocked to the ground by a Clinton supporter when...
Published: August 27, 1996
Words: 347

Google also turns up mention of Phil Parlock, though not in the reported context:
Five vie for two Cabell BOE seats
BOE candidates weigh in
Lynch may affect perception of women in combat

Rising Hegemon makes in interesting observation about the photo also. The young man in the backwards baseball hat, who many have taken to be a union goon who ripped up the Bush-Cheney sign, looks a lot like Phil Parlock. Check out the family picture posted there and compare. Rising Hegemon says, "This guy is a serial disrupter with pretty much the same story every time." I am unwilling to accept that conclusion based on the evidence presented, though it is a possibility.

First: Since when is holding up an opposition sign, especially if it's away from the main group of the opponents as it's described here, "a disruption?" That's very clearly within the bounds of acceptable political behavior.

Second: While there is a pattern here, it is not clear what is the significance of this pattern. What we know (from the news report archives) is that similar events have happened twice before. The explanation that Rising Hegemon offers is plausible. It is not the only plausible explanation.

If Phil Parlock regularly attends this sort of political event, especially as a "counter-demonstrator," the odds of some sort of incident involving him rises. As long as it's just turning up and standing off to one side holding up an opponent's sign, it can't really be called "disruption," but it could become annoying to the hardcore Democrats who may have come to recognise him. If this is the case, and I don't really have enough information to judge, it's not that unlikely that he might have signs torn away and ripped up or trampled. If you doubt this, you aren't reading the news.

I submit that while I don't have evidence to stake my hat on this latter interpretation, Rising Hegemon is on equally shaky grounds. If he has more evidence, he hasn't offered it.

What we know is Phil Parlock shows up at Democratic events and counter-demonstrates. To all accounts I've seen, he does this peacefully, though sometimes perhaps intrustively. There is mention of smuggling in the signs. He didn't this last time insert himself and his family into the Democrats' crowd as the VVAW and Kerry supporters tried to do at the Vietnam Veterans for Truth rally did this weekend, for one example. But it isn't clear that he didn't do that in the 2000 incident where the smuggling of signs is mentioned. He has done this at least three times in eight years. I'd guess that he has been at more events, but that is a guess. If these are the only events he has attended, this would, in my opinion, support Rising Hegemon's conclusion. If he has been at, say, ten times this number over eight years, I'd say Rising Hegemon's conclusion is on very shaky ground.

The other articles that I found suggest a possible motive that would support Rising Hegemon's conclusion. Phil Parlock may be seeking publicity to help in his attempts at entering local politics (he seems to need all the help he can get, from the election returns for the BOE position he sought). Of course, his motive could simply be that he wishes to see Republican candidates elected, and he's just running his own family campaign to promote those candidates. Another motive is his expressed desire to educate his children on the excesses to be expected from the Democrats' supporters.

So, I don't see that Rising Hegemon's conclusion is sufficiently supported by the facts he has supplied to date. I do agree, however, that this incident is not clearly what the caption of the picture describes it to be.

If Phil Parlock is attending events and counter-demonstrating and having his signs taken away and ripped up, that is still bad behavior on the part of those supporting the opponent candidate. The proper response is the one I saw this weekend. Those who noted the Kerry-Edwards supporters insinuating themselves in the crowd simply pointed them out to the local police presence. Those potential disruptors (and one was disruptive, chanting during a speech) were approached by the police, warned as to the limits of acceptable behavior, and, if appropriate, escorted to an area outside the main crowd. From the description in the Washington Times article, Phil did not try to insinuate himself in the crowd.

If Phil Parlock is attending these events and faking these attacks, that's terribly dishonest and possibly illegal. And if he can be prosecuted under some pertinent law, he should be.

We need more evidence. I hear Phil was on the Glenn Beck show this morning. Maybe a transcript from that will provide more information. I can't listen to the audios at the moment, but they are here:
Listen to Glenn Beck interveiw Phil Parlock on his show:
Glenn Beck Interveiws Phil Parlock - Free Audio
Glenn Beck Follow-Up Interview with Phil Parlock - Free Audio

Here are a few posts on this:
3 year old Sophia Parlock crying at protest, was it FAKED? at Passionate America.
Coinkydinks at Eschaton.
Kerry/Edwards Supporters Assault 3-Year-Old Girl (UPDATE: Scam??) at Captains' Quarters.

I posted a tongue-in-cheek comment elsewhere about the timing on the DU post, but it was 4:22am, well after this broke. Kudos to Rezmutt for noticing something odd about the story, whether or not he nailed the right conclusion.

Update: After reading one of the old articles closely, I can see Phil does go to events with the expectation of having his signs taken away. From experiences documents (on video!) elsewhere, that's a resonable expectation. I'm not sure that I think he's entirely wise for taking his 3-year-old daughter to this event, when he had reason from experience to believe he might face violence (if relatively minor), but what's the real problem here is that that sort of violence is to be expected.

The tone of the article is questioning whether he's reporting facts, or embellishing, but he sounds pretty reasonable, and a sense of humor even seems to come through the slightly sceptical reporting.

One question that needs to be asked, based upon this statement: Does Phil Parlock know Sandy Berger?

He and Louis brought a supply of Bush-Cheney signs and smuggled them into the rally. They stuffed plastic ones in their socks and pockets and folded paper ones inside Gore-Lieberman signs.

As of this moment I partially accept Rising Hegemon's conclusion. Phil Parlock is deliberately placing himself in a position where he knows he may be attacked for holding up opposition signs. I think it's unwise to bring very young children along, but I also think it's a crying shame that a father needs to worry about the safety of a young child at a political gathering. But I don't believe the assertions that the signs are being destroyed by Phil and his family themselves. There is no evidence of that, and recent history shows that signs opposing Democratic candidates have been destroyed rather often. Should any such evidence be put forward, I stand by my earlier assertion that he then should be prosecuted if possible. Let a jury decide.

I categorically reject any suggestion that attacks upon him are justified. The proper course of action is to ask that the police place him away from the crowd if he attempts to insinuate himself with it. In the case of an event with rules about signs, as the one described in the 2000 incident was, they should ask the police to eject him, not take matters into their own hands (and his signs into theirs in order to destroy them). Anyone who is not a proper authority who takes signs from a peaceful protester and destroys them is at best a vigilante, at worst a thug and a thief.

Update: The union involved has issued an apology (hat tip: Captain's Quarters), which makes clear that the union itself, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, believes that a member did participate in the incident in a less than proper manner:

The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades believes in the fundamental right for civil discourse, freedom of speech and activism to support our candidates and issues.

What happened in Huntington, West Virginia yesterday is an affront to everything we, as a union, pride ourselves to represent. We extend our apologies to the Parlock family, especially Sophia, for the distress one of our overzealous members caused them.

I have personally taken steps to address this issue internally, and will take immediate disciplinary action to the fullest extent allowed under U.S. Department of Labor regulations and the constitution of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.

It is my hope that this incident reminds all of our members that every last citizen in this country has the right to express his or herself freely. Not one single one of us has the right to tell them otherwise.

General President James A. Williams
The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades

And Michelle Malkin adds more: THE LEFT IS DESPERATE FOR A HOAX

A commentor adds:

This afternoon, I called the Union headquarters. According to the general president's staff, the union is still investigating the incident and has NOT identified the man in the picture. I was informed that the apology was issued in the possible event of the jackass in the photo being a union member. Claims that the union believes him to be a member are incorrect. They are investigating. That is all for now.
That's fair enough. But that the union is doing so speaks to my point that we do have a problem: the sort of behavior the union is looking into is not unexpected. Were it, the union would say "we are looking into the possibilility that a member might be involved, but we don't really believe that's the case." I will add, I do appreciate their quick response. They could be pulling a Rather and denying everything.

I've listened the the Glenn Beck interviews now. Phil says he's done this other times without violence of any sort resulting. That adds to my earlier statement that this result may not be the norm, as Rising Hegemon assumes. But I do think his is a family of unofficial "protest warriors." That's fine. They should not be assaulted. But if they are sneaking in where the rules say they should not be with signs, they should also be removed by proper authorities.

I see that Michelle Malkin has updated her entry too, and pointed my way (thanks, Michelle).

And let me state for the record: If the union or I or anyone else finds out that this was staged, I will be the loudest to condemn Parlock and will send an apology and a dozen roses to Attaturk at Rising Hegemon.
I agree with her sentiment here (as I've stated above a couple times), but I won't send Attaturk roses.

Update: (hat tip: Blogs for Bush) USNews.com has this by Paul Bedard:

If the picture of little 3-year-old Sophia Parlock crying after some Kerry-Edwards supporters tore up her Bush-Cheney poster got to you, well, you weren't the only one. President Bush and even first pup Barney were dismayed too, we hear. It happened at a West Virginia rally last week for Democratic running mate Sen. John Edwards, to which Phil Parlock brought his daughter. After seeing the picture of the tearful Sophia on her dad's shoulders, aides said the president was sending her a little note Friday along with a signed campaign poster and an autographed photo of the prez and his dog. "Dear Sophia," Bush penned, "Thank you for supporting my campaign. I understand someone tore up your sign. So I am sending you a new sign and a signed picture. Please give my best to your family. Sincerely, George W. Bush." And on the picture, he inked: "To Sophia, Best wishes from me and Barney." Phil Parlock tells us it really wasn't necessary. "He already said 'Thank you' when he hugged her" at a previous Bush rally they attended, he says. "She bragged for days."

Also, I've read comments on the picture posted below questioning whether it's authentic (not my version, but the original as posted elsewhere). Look at the pictures in the articles at the top of this post and you'll see a slightly different shot, with the same elements present. Also, remember that tweaking the size of jpgs results in artifacts. If you do it more than once, as is apt to be the case where blogs are borrowing from each other, these artifacts proliferate.

Update: Media Matters, the left's media watchdog, has a post up on this that adds a little new information. The photographer, listed as an AP photographer on the article photos, is not an AP photographer according to Media Matters:

Snyder is not an Associated Press photographer; he is listed as "chief photographer" on the masthead of The Herald-Dispatch, which bills itself as "the online news authority for Huntington, West Virginia, Southern Ohio and Eastern Kentucky.
I'm no expert on how AP works, but I suspect this is shaving a point pretty finely. Most syndicates, like AP, work with stringers whose work is listed under the "brand" of the syndicate. The spin in the post is clearly aimed at insinuating some sort of conspiracy, but there is nothing more than circumstantial evidence offered. And that is also consistent with my conclusion, that the Parlock family are informal "protest warriors" who make a point of showing the intolerance of Democratic supporters. How useful this is is an open question. It is certainly not illegal on its face. Unlike the response they provoke.

Posted by dan at September 17, 2004 12:09 PM | TrackBack

This new info does leave a disturbing feeling with me. I question why, if they have met resistance in the past, the 3-yr-old girl is taken with them. I'm witholding judgment for now, but thanks for bringing this up.

Posted by: kitty at September 17, 2004 01:27 PM

This is going to serve as a useful counterpoint to the Rather/Memos story--the Democratic bloggers made an effort to believe the memos were true for the first day or so, before finally acknowledging the obvious, while we are all backtracking and correcting quickly. I'll put up a link to your post as soon as blogger lets me do something again; it's really balky this morning.

Posted by: Pat Curley at September 17, 2004 01:28 PM

Well done.

While I too might question the wisdom of taking a three year old girl to a rally, I cannot find it in me to believe that a three year old girl could be part of a conspiracy - i.e., cry on queue when her brother takes her sign away.

The idea that the union guy is her brother seems very silly.

I think we should accept this for what it is: an unfortunate event at a campaign rally. There have been rough incidents at some republican rallies too.

Posted by: Bill at September 17, 2004 02:42 PM

Like I said in another post: this may be a forgery, but the content is true.

Posted by: jwarr at September 17, 2004 02:54 PM

That's a good posting Dan, but I'd like to clear one thing up about the union apology. This afternoon, I called the Union headquarters. According to the general president's staff, the union is still investigating the incident and has NOT identified the man in the picture. I was informed that the apology was issued in the possible event of the jackass in the photo being a union member. Claims that the union believes him to be a member are incorrect. They are investigating. That is all for now.

Posted by: James Landrith at September 17, 2004 05:46 PM

Given the overwhelming evidence that the gentlemean has done this in the past, people have to question his motives. Moreover, the same reporter took the photos at thtree different indidents over three electoral cycles, and the same paper broke it?

Something smells, and it smells of SETUP, or the unkukciest man in South Carolina.

Posted by: Nadin at September 17, 2004 05:50 PM

It sounds like he shows up at events and puts himself in situations where he gets his signs taken. If every opposition supporter holding signs at a rally got them taken away there would be a lot more fistfights.

He had signs taken away three times that were reported on... How many times did he get his signs taken away that the press didn't pick up?

Finally, he was also coincidentally present at a GOP gathering in Huntington (West Virginia?) where a bullet was apparently fired through a window at a crowd of innocent GOP types:


Now I know that I am an asshole and that we Leftys can do assholish things, but this guy seems to have a dark rain cloud over his head. 4 for 4? Four incidents of outlandish Dem behavior falling upon this guy? Does lightning strike twice? (Or 4 times?)

Posted by: The Liberal Avenger at September 17, 2004 06:00 PM

Okay, maybe the guy in the baseball cap is Parlock's son, but he could still be a union goon.

Posted by: jimbosterjim at September 17, 2004 06:05 PM

Check this alleged eyewitness account:


Yes ma'am, he provoked them. Phil gave his son a sign and pushed the boy in front of him. Some young democrats tried to cover Phil's sign with their own. The boy dropped the sign and a worker grabbed at it. Phil then shoved the kid. When Phil's sign was covered up he placed his young daughter on his shoulders and gave her the sign. The girl was terrified by the people chanting and her father's actions. He used his children as pawns. He did not come to do anything other than disrupt the event and he used his children as a means to an end. He exchanged some angry words with the Kerry supporters when they attempted to hold their signs in front of his but none of them were physical with him. Now while I may think he possibly should have been left alone, I have none, nada, NO respect for a man going into a situation he knows is going to be heated and using his children as frickin targets.

Posted by: The Liberal Avenger at September 17, 2004 06:06 PM

Liberal Avenger:

Since when is holding up a sign a justification for violence of any sort? The proper response was not to take matters into their own hands, it was to ask the police for assistance. If he was out of line, it should be removed. (I saw it happen this past weekend without any sort of confrontation.)

I do agree that he should not be taking very young children into situations where experience has taught him (and he says so) that he will face this sort of reaction.

But the main point remains, he should not have to face this sort of reaction for simply displaying a sign the others don't like in a public place. If he's breaking rules, the proper authorities can handle it.

Posted by: Dan S at September 17, 2004 06:19 PM

I don't think that it is too much of a stretch to imagine him forcing some sort of a provocation.

Do you really think that Democrats fired a bullet into the West Virginia GOP Headquarters?

Posted by: The Liberal Avenger at September 17, 2004 06:40 PM

I'm a big-time Kerry supporter. But there is no way I would take my 2-yr-old daughter to a BC04 event, armed with nothing but a bunch of Kerry signs. Heck, I wouldn't go and do that *without* my daughter. Emotions run high at things like that and people do stupid things. (Of course, I'd never be allowed into a Bush rally since I couldn't swear allegiance to him, so it's a moot point, really.) It is a shame. But it is certainly not a Dem phenomenon. I seem to recall seeing a photo of a anti-Bush person being dragged out of a Bush rally by her hair, and another carted off in handcuffs recently . . .

I'm not desperate for a hoax. I'm sad that this man exploits his children this way. But I have little sympathy for the man himself as he clearly sought a confrontation. At least he wasn't assaulted.

Posted by: chillmoth at September 17, 2004 06:40 PM

What about the fact that his daughter was up on his shoulders (even in the photo), presumably so that she could hold up one of the signs that he smuggled in over the crowd?

Time to take a deep breath and disavow yourselves of this guy. He is nothing but trouble and only harms your cause.

Posted by: The Liberal Avenger at September 17, 2004 06:43 PM


I won't argue that all on either side are blameless. That's would be plain silly.

But you're being disingenuous. Who was dragging out those protesters to whom you refer and what had they done? If you refer to the RNC, at least one of those, as I recall, had resisted arrest rather vigorously. And it was proper authority doing the removal.

But I don't regularly follow this sort of behavior. I've seen some on video and the news. What caught me up into this one was the picture.

I'm listening the the Glenn Beck interviews now. Phil says he's done this other times without violence of any sort resulting. That adds to my earlier statement that this result may not be the norm, as Rising Hegemon assumes.

Posted by: Dan S at September 17, 2004 06:47 PM

I'd just like to point out that this was not a Kerry/Edwards "event" or "rally" or anything of the sort. John Edwards went to the airport for the same reason you and I do: To get on a plane. Since he was passing through, the airport set aside an area for people to come gawk and maybe hope to shake his hand if his schedule allowed for it (which apparently his schedule did, as it turns out). Thus, regardless of what Parnock did or his underlying motivations for doing it, he was doing it somewhere where he had every right to be.

If he had been interfering with a Kerry/Edwards rally in a place they had booked for a private event, then he would definitely deserve excoriation regardless of the details of his actions. But this was just was some John Edwards fans waiting by a fence on public property. There's no reason Parnock couldn't be there too.

Posted by: SPG at September 17, 2004 06:58 PM

LAUGHABLE - In fact Contemptable that anyone would suggest that little Sophia Parlock should not go to a rally and learn the contempt of the Left.

You see, given her name she is probably one or two generations removed from the Communist Genocide that claimed more than WWI including hundreds of thousands of Sophias - the Genocide that was possible only because of the contempt of the left.

How many of the 10 million could have been saved if the Pulitzer of 1932 was given to someone who disclosed the Genocide instead of those that covered it up. And it is the same Left that is trying to control the information for this election.

Yes, Sophia - learn your lesson well so that someday we might say "Mr Pulitzer, Tear Down This Wall"

Posted by: ucrane at September 17, 2004 07:17 PM

I said this in another blog. There is another SUSPICIOUS aspect. According to this article:


4 Parlock familiy members attended the rally: Phil, sophia (3 years old), Phillip II (11 years old), and Alex (21 years old)

My question is WHERE IS ALEX? Why are there only 3 Parlocks in the pictures? If I was Sophia's 21-year-old brother and I saw someone rip away a sign from my 3 years-old sister, I would've tackled that "union thug". Doesn't it seem odd that Alex was not there to defend his sister?

Posted by: adsa at September 18, 2004 03:47 AM

chillmoth, you are so wrong! NOBODY was "dragged" by their hair at Byers Choice in Pa.,not even the guy. Two of them had the security HOLDING their hair as they WALKED them out. What an ass!

Posted by: Lisa at September 18, 2004 01:37 PM

Alex was standing at the entrance to the airport with his sign, so he didn't even see the incident. He has been posting on Free Republic.

He also mentioned that they called in the guy's license plate number to the Littering hotline (for throwing the ripped sign pieces on the ground). So someone should be able to find out who he was.

Posted by: Kallie at September 19, 2004 06:53 AM

NOBODY was dragged by their hair?


Posted by: Mike Wells at September 20, 2004 11:42 PM

i think that you need to put pictures on your website of someone that is crying or being sad if that is what your website is all about.

Posted by: elizabeth sharpe at November 27, 2004 06:47 PM