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Spacecrab's Journal
LB in SF
Not actually planning to throw her hammer .... (this time). 
1st-Feb-2006 08:17 pm
From Cindy Sheehan's comments on her arrest, it looks like I got it wrong, last night. She says she didn't realize that wearing her “2,245 Dead — How Many More??” t-shirt to Bush's SOTU speech would be interpreted by house security agents as a gesture of protest.

"I wore the shirt to make a statement. The press knew I was going to be there, and I thought every once in awhile they would show me, and I would have the shirt on. I did not wear it to be disruptive, or I would have unzipped my jacket during George's speech. If I had any idea what happens to people who wear shirts that make the neocons uncomfortable, that I would be arrested ... maybe I would have, but I didn't."

So my assumption that she knew she was risking arrest and wore the shirt, anyway, turns out to have been premature. All charges against her have apparently been dropped, and the local police chief who ordered the arrest has apologized.

Without wishing personal inconvenience on someone who doesn't deserve it, that leaves me wishing someone else *would* wear an anti-War t-shirt to a public Bush event -- to test the legality of being removed or arrested for wearing it. I can't help seeing enforcement of the type that Cindy Sheehan just encountered as a precursor -- to the harrassment promised in Arlen Spector's proposed addition to the new Patriot Act bill.

2nd-Feb-2006 06:12 pm (UTC)
It's hardly a precursor; this phenomenon has been here for years now. One man was thrown out of a mall in 2003 or so for wearing a t-shirt he had purchased in the mall. No one is allowed to wear an anti-war button, let alone t-shirt, to a Bush rally. Usually, they don't arrest, they just eject. I imagine there are legality tests in the court; the ACLU would know.
3rd-Feb-2006 01:32 am (UTC)
My worry is that Sheehan's arrest might have been a precursor exhibition of Bush's intention to escalate harrassment of anyone who contradicts his party line at any public event. This appears to be the basic intent of the codecil added to Patriot Act II by Arlen Spector:

"Currently, non-violent demonstrators who enter restricted areas at such events previously would be arrested and charged by local law enforcement with simple trespassing, said Graves. Under the provision included in the new law, they will be charged with felonies by the Secret Service."

I'm aware of the fact that individuals have been thrown out of Bush political rallies, in the past, for daring to wear t-shirts or buttons that challenge his party line. In his last campaign, Bush's policies had the effect of blurring the distinction between an open public meeting and a "private Republican campaign rally." I'm worried that Spector's language in the new Patriot (sic) bill, is intended to make the distinction permanent: the right of free speech at any "important meeting" would eventually be considered as equivalent to the right of free speech at a private Republican-sponsored event.

I'm disheartened by the some of the social/emotional spin put on the Sheehan arrest event within our own community. John Scalzi managed to make himself slightly misunderstood, the other day, by writing that "he would have booted Cindy Sheehan from the State of the Union, too." There were clues, in Scalzi's post, that his intent was to accuse Cindy Sheehan of Fashion Crimes Against the State, not actually to support her arrest. But the timing of his objection and his flippancy in the face of reaction to the post have managed to bum me out a bit. The gist of what he says: "Just because you're protesting doesn't mean you need to look like you just stepped out of a Berkeley organic food mart."

Basically, he negates the grief of a woman whose son was murdered at the behest of an irresponsible tyrant, her courage in facing the man, and the characteristic response of the tyrant's minions to dissent. Because, to him, Cindy Sheehan has proved herself to be just another member of the "style-deaf" hippie demographic. Her fashion sense is more significant to him than her willingness to speak up when so many remain silent. I may have been overdramatizing in the other direction with my cribbed JPEgs, by suggesting that Cindy Sheehan is the living spirit of Freedom from the 1984 Apple Video.

But after watching the SOTU address on TV, flipping through the after-speech commentary by the well-dressed, Russert, McCain, and the rest, Cindy still looks like the goddess with the hammer, to me.
2nd-Feb-2006 11:58 pm (UTC)
Another woman, the spouse of a legislator, was also thrown out for wearing a T-shirt about supporting our troops. (Yes, I know the article says that, but your post makes it sound more one-sided than it was.)
3rd-Feb-2006 12:30 am (UTC)
Beverly Young, the wife of a Republican Congressman, was asked to leave, not arrested. This occurred after Bush's speech had begun, well after Sheehan's arrest.

Subsequent news stories have turned up the fact that neither woman was actually in violation of the security rules for attending the speech. What do you think the odds are that, after arresting Sheehan, the security guards were feeling a bit of pressure to prove that they were "equal opportunity" harrassers?
3rd-Feb-2006 04:17 am (UTC)
Thank you for the clarification.
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