<p>One of Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick’s grassroots advisory committee members apparently was a promoter of the Garland event that came under gunfire on Sunday. According to <a href="https://www.facebook.com/ktemanuelson">his Facebook page</a>, Ken Emanuelson, a member of Patrick’s advisory panel, was present at the event when the shooting occurred and was locked down inside the Curtis Culwell Center.</p> <p>Emanuelson posted photos from inside the event, including ones featuring organizer Pamela Geller and Geert Wilders, an anti-Muslim Dutch politician. Emanuelson gave a running commentary of Wilders’ speech on <a href="https://twitter.com/mrclean2012">his twitter feed</a>.</p> <p>Emanuelson also posted photographs of the anti-Muhammad cartoons that the program was promoting through a contest. They featured the Muslim prophet with snakes coming from his beard, while another one featured convicted killer Charles Manson dressed as Muhammad.</p> <p><a href="http://http://abcnews.go.com/US/official-texas-shooting-suspects-ided/story?id=30782088">ABC News is reporting</a> this morning that one of the gunmen was a Muslim extremist from Arizona named Elton Simpson.</p> <p>The shooting appears to be the culmination of goading by extremists on both sides of the debate. It began in January with dueling protests at the Culwell Center during a pro-Muslim “Stand With the Prophet in Honor and Respect event.” The event was held about a week after Muslim extremists killed 11 people at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo over its publications of cartoons making fun of Muhammad. Many Muslims find caricature of Muhammad highly offensive.</p> <p>During the January event, the anti-Muslim protest was organized by the American Freedom Defense Initiative with Emanuelson helping promote it. <a href="http://www.breitbart.com/texas/2015/01/15/activist-pamela-geller-to-head-texas-rally-for-free-speech-and-protest-islamic-conference/">Emanuelson told </a><em><a href="http://www.breitbart.com/texas/2015/01/15/activist-pamela-geller-to-head-texas-rally-for-free-speech-and-protest-islamic-conference/">Breitbart Texas</a> </em>that he supported the event because it promoted free speech. “Whether one agrees with a particular message or opposes it, we should all be able to come together around the idea that every human being has a right to speak his or her mind,” Emanuelson said.</p> <p>The AFDI followed up the January protest by organizing this past <a href="http://www.dallasnews.com/news/local-news/20150503-breaking-gunfire-reported-at-anti-islam-event-at-garland-isd-facility.ece">weekend’s event</a>: a Muhammad cartoon contest with a cash award.  <a href="http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/muhammad-art-exhibit-two-gunmen-5633663">The <em>Mirror</em> of London is reporting</a> that the Muslim extremist group ISIS is claiming responsibility for the attack Sunday.</p> <p>What is clear in this incident is that the AFDI is an organization that promotes anti-Islamic feelings and likely held this event to provoke a reaction from radical Muslims. Whether Elton Simpson was a lone wolf terrorist or a sleeper cell for ISIS, he gave the AFDI a powerful public relations tool for the future.</p> <p>After the Charlie Hebdo attack, I found many of the magazine’s cartoons to have more religious bigotry than satire, but no one should be killed for exercising freedom of speech. By that same token, AFDI had every right to hold its event this weekend. Protecting free speech is about protecting speech you loath as much as the speech you love.</p> <p>So why make the connection to Dan Patrick and his grassroots advisory council? This is the same group that recently released a letter attacking Governor Greg Abbott’s proposal to expand pre-K programs in Texas? (Emanuelson is on Patrick’s council but was not one of the signers of the letter against pre-K.) I’m drawing the link because whether it is Patrick and his grassroots council or Abbott ordering the Texas State Guard to monitor the U.S. military’s Jade Helm exercises this summer, there is a pattern of the state leadership pandering to the fringe of Texas politics rather than the mainstream.</p> <p>Just as <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-05-02/ted-cruz-says-he-has-asked-the-pentagon-for-answers-on-jade-helm-15">fear of the Jade Helm exercise</a> disparages the 200,000 military personnel in Texas, anti-radical Islamic groups such as the AFDI are creating an air of prejudice against the estimated 422,000 Muslims in Texas.     </p>

The second annual Texas Monthly BBQ Festival was held Sunday, October 30, at the outdoor terrace of Long Center in Austin. Some 3,000 people attended to sample barbecue from 22 vendors (all of whom had been named to our Top 50 Barbecue Joints in Texas in 2008), listen to music (Jimmie Vaughan and Asleep at the Wheel), and vote for the people’s choice in four categories. The prizes were won this year by Franklin Barbecue of Austin (best brisket), Louie Mueller Barbecue of Taylor (best beef ribs and best sausage), and Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q of Tyler (best pork ribs). Last  year’s best brisket winner was Snow’s BBQ of Lexington. Here are some random observations from an assortment of well-fed attendees. It’s kind of like drinking from a fire hydrant. There is so much here!—Seth Dockery This is Texas, so the temperature could have been 40, it could have been 95. But today was perfect.—Jen Pencis, Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q, Tyler Cooking’s easy. The hardest part is figuring out the amount of meat. –Todd Ashmore, Opie’s Barbecue, Spicewood This event is definitely off the ground. Yesterday I was telling people I was in town for the barbecue festival and everybody knew what I was talking about. Last year they had no idea.—Daniel Vaughn, Full Custom Gospel BBQ blog I’m wearing a costume because I’m going to a Halloween party later. I’m “Julius Pleaser.” I had Snow’s brisket. It was like eating butter.—Tim Lucas (dressed as a Roman gladiator, with sunglasses) That man looks like the Hero of Meat! Are you writing down what I said? I’m famous!—Madeline Sweany, age 8 I met a guy from Ithaca who flew in, and he’s been to half the places. He grew up in Houston and had on a T-shirt that said “I [heart] BBQ.”—Bud Kennedy We’re doing a molar-to-molar comparison of Franklin’s and Snow’s brisket. See, I’ve got a little piece between my teeth right now.—Chula Sims You really need a bloody mary with barbecue.—Larry McGuire, Lamberts Downtown Barbecue, Austin Franklin’s espresso barbecue sauce made my eyes roll back in my head it is sooo good.—Sita Guillot People are still spending for barbecue. It may be the last thing in the economy to go.—Chula Sims Snow’s is amazing. Tootsie [the pitmaster] signed my bottle of sauce. Look at it!—Scott Sivori I’m not sure what I’m in line for.—Noel Sanchez (one-hundredth person in line for Franklin’s) Franklin Barbecue is right around the corner from where I live but every time I go they’re sold out.  So I came today thinking, at least I can get some Franklin’s. And when I get up to their booth, they’re sold out!—Brian Perkins We came for this and the football game. Actually, we came for this. The game was just a bonus.—Cristina Rodriguez God. We’ve hit ten booths. That’s almost half. We’re taking home all the leftovers. I bought a tote filled with Ziploc bags, Maalox, Advil, and dental floss. Hey, Maalox should be a sponsor for you guys. [Imitating a Maalox ad:] “After twenty-three booths, you should stop by our booth.” And you need a massage booth. And a nap booth! You could charge $15 for fifteen minutes—little power nap and you’re good to go again.—Chris Maxwell-Gaines and Carlos Guerra, Austin (sitting on the floor, leaning against a wall) A friend told us he gave his dad tickets to the festival, and they both flew in from Philadelphia.—Shelly Seymour (After hearing that they won people’s choice for best pork ribs:) We had a really bad start. The pit wouldn’t hold the temperature, the warmer broke, the meat on the pork ribs was not cooking till it fell off the bone. It was hard to make that volume of food because the guys want every rib to be perfect. But the people in the booth next to us helped us out. It’s about that brotherhood of barbecue.—Jen Pencis, co-owner, Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q Sheesh!—Nick Pencis, co-owner, Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q, Tyler At Texas A&M we have a course we teach for the public developed with Foodways Texas called the BBQ Summer Camp—we did it for the first time last year and it filled up in no time. People gave it as a Christmas present! We taught everything from brisket to a whole hog. It will be June 8–10 this year.—Davey Griffin, PhD, at the BBQ Genius booth run by Texas A&M Meat Science profs and students Before I took the freshmen course in Texas barbecue at A&M I would always cut off the burnt ends. Now I like them the best. (Pauses.) I think my parents told me they weren’t good so they could have them!—Taylor Adcock We started smoking around 11:30 last night and brought them here today. We’ve cooked about thirty briskets; that’s maybe 190 pounds. I heard about another pit that just cooked ten briskets. I’ll spend a couple thousand dollars coming up here. —Kerry Bexley, owner, Snow’s BBQ, Lexington I came with a friend but I’m a vegetarian. I ate a lot of fried pies.—Sarah Sedenquist I gave away my last piece one minute ago [at 3:59 p.m.]. We cooked forty-three briskets and I think we served more than two thousand samples.—Stacy Franklin, co-owner, Franklin Barbecue, Austin Y’all need more desserts. – Seth Dockery