Balance, schmalance

Gotta have our factesque balance...

Goodbad Protest

(not sure who created this image, but quite telling, isn't it?)

Sheehan Tossed From Capitol Over T-Shirt WASHINGTON -- Cindy Sheehan, mother of a fallen soldier in Iraq, wasn't the only one ejected from the House gallery during the State of the Union address for wearing a T-shirt with a war-related slogan that violated the rules. The wife of a powerful Republican congressman was also asked to leave.

Beverly Young, wife of Rep. C.W. Bill Young of Florida _ chairman of the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee _ was removed from the gallery because she was wearing a T-shirt that read, “Support the Troops _ Defending Our Freedom.”

Didn't see this happen, because I can't force myself to watch/listen/read any speech made by our fearful leader, but if true, what a stupid country we have become. Do opinions printed on T-shirts really poke out the eyes of disbelievers? Crazy. I knew words had power, but I didn't know they had that much.

They told her she was being treated the same as Sheehan, a protester ejected before the speech Tuesday night for wearing a T-shirt with an antiwar slogan [except that Sheehan spent 4 hours in jail, Ms. Young was simply escorted away]. Sheehan wrote in her blog [well, daily kos diary] Wednesday that she intends to file a First Amendment lawsuit.

“I don't want to live in a country that prohibits any person, whether he/she has paid the ultimate price for that country, from wearing, saying, writing, or telephoning any negative statements about the government,” Sheehan wrote.

Capitol Police took Sheehan, invited as a guest of Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., away in handcuffs and charged her with unlawful conduct, a misdemeanor. She later was released on her own recognizance.

Capitol Police Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said police warned her that such displays were not allowed in the House chamber, but Sheehan did not respond.

Woolsey gave Sheehan her only ticket earlier in the day _ Gallery 5, seat 7, row A _ while Sheehan was attending an “alternative state of the union” news conference by CODEPINK, a group pushing for an end to the Iraq war.

In her blog, Sheehan wrote that her T-shirt said, “2245 Dead. How many more?” _ a reference to the number of soldiers killed in Iraq.

update: Glenn Greenwald has more on why this stifling of free speech isn't even funny. Worth a read.

The law is clear that Sheehan did nothing illegal and there was no legal basis whatsoever for removing and arresting her for wearing that t-shirt.

In Bynum v. U.S. Capitol Police Bd. (Dist. D.C. 1997) (.pdf), the District Court found the regulations applying 140 U.S.C. § 193 -- the section of the U.S. code restricting activities inside the Capitol -- to be unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds. Bynum involved a Reverend who was threatened with arrest by Capitol Police while leading a small group in prayer inside the Capitol. The Capitol Police issued that threat on the ground that the praying constituted a “demonstration.”

That action was taken pursuant to the U.S. Code, in which Congress decreed as follows: “It shall be unlawful for any person or group of persons wilfully and knowingly . . . to parade, demonstrate or picket within any Capitol Building.” 140 U.S.C. § 193(f)(b)(7).

She said she had one arm out of her coat when an officer yelled, “Protestor.”

“He then ran over to me, hauled me out of my seat and roughly (with my hands behind my back) shoved me up the stairs,” she wrote. She was then cuffed and driven to police headquarters a few blocks away.

“I was never told that I couldn't wear that shirt into the Congress,” Sheehan wrote. “I was never asked to take it off or zip my jacket back up. If I had been asked to do any of those things...I would have, and written about the suppression of my freedom of speech later.”

Also, was Beverly Young imprisoned for four hours? Why not?

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on February 1, 2006 1:42 PM.

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