"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
My lefty brethren are no doubt aware - and appropriately outraged - that Cindy Sheehan was arrested just before last night's State of the Union address for a fashion crime:
Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a fallen soldier in Iraq who reinvigorated the anti-war movement, was arrested and removed from the House gallery Tuesday night just before President Bush's State of the Union address, a police spokeswoman said.
Sheehan, who was invited to attend the speech by Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., was charged with demonstrating in the Capitol building, said Capitol Police Sgt. Kimberly Schneider. The charge was later changed to unlawful conduct, Schneider said. Both charges are misdemeanors.
Sheehan was taken in handcuffs from the Capitol to police headquarters a few blocks away. Her case was processed as Bush spoke.
Schneider said Sheehan had worn a T-shirt with an anti-war slogan to the speech and covered it up until she took her seat. Police warned her that such displays were not allowed, but she did not respond, the spokeswoman said.
But what many of you may not realize is that Sheehan was not the only woman removed from the gallery for her sartorial decisions:
The wife of a senior House of Representatives Republican was told to leave the House chamber during President George W. Bush's State of the Union speech for for wearing a shirt bearing words of support for U.S. troops.
"Shame, shame," Rep. Bill Young of Florida said on the House floor on Wednesday, condemning the treatment of his wife Beverly by the U.S. Capitol Police.
"She was ordered to leave the gallery, because she was doing ... what the president said we should all do," Young said. "She had on this shirt. A very conservative shirt, long sleeves, high neck, but it says support our troops."
I happen to agree with Mrs. Young's sentiment, although I'm sure we have very different ideas about what "supporting the troops" involves. That notwithstanding, I find it unbelieveable that American citizens can be ejected from their own capitol building for expressing their beliefs. Neither Sheehan nor Young was causing any disturbance, nor in any way disrupting the speech. One may question whether a T-shirt is appropriate dress for a Presidential address (or, for one of Bush's speeches [/rimshot]), but the First Amendment does not guarantee the right to free expression only so long as it is appropriate. In fact, my all-time favorite First Amendment case, in which the Supreme Court upheld a citizen's right to enter the Los Angeles County courthouse wearing a jacket that read "Fuck the Draft," explicitly rejected such a notion. Of course, that was back in Nixon's day, when the Constitution still had some life left in it (and you have no idea how much cognitive dissonance I suffer in writing that sentence).
Clearly, a lot of people dislike Cindy Sheehan, her message, and her tactics. Others may be inclined to think of Beverly Young - resplendent in her conservative, high-necked, long-sleeved couture - as a smug, self-righteous prig. No matter. Both women are guaranteed the same right to speak their minds as the rest of us - and that is precisely what scares me.
The house chambers are strickly off limits to any type of advertising or political opinions in the form of tee shirts or banners..It has been that way for two hundred years. It has nothing to do with free speech..demonstration can be held almost anywhere in america ,,it is one thing that seperates us from the brits...:)and keeps our govermmnet from stuping to the level of a professional sport arena
“The officers made a good faith, but mistaken effort to enforce an old unwritten interpretation of the prohibitions about demonstrating in the Capitol,” Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer said in a statement late Wednesday.
“The policy and procedures were too vague,” he added. “The failure to adequately prepare the officers is mine.”