Tuesday, October 19, 2004

I guess free speech is no longer legal, especially at a Bush rally. What is happening in our country? How far will this go?

Teachers' T-shirts bring Bush speech ouster
From Bend.com news sources

Posted: Thursday, October 14, 2004 10:24

MEDFORD – President Bush taught three Oregon schoolteachers a new lesson in irony – or tragedy – Thursday night when his campaign removed them from a Bush speech and threatened them with arrest simply for wearing t-shirts that said “Protect Our Civil Liberties,” the Democratic Party of Oregon reported.

The women were ticketed to the event, admitted into the event, and were then approached by event officials before the president’s speech. They were asked to leave and to turn over their tickets – two of the three tickets were seized, but the third was saved when one of the teachers put it underneath an article of clothing.

"The U.S. Constitution was not available on site for comment, but expressed in a written statement support for “the freedom of speech” and “of the press” among other civil liberties," a Democratic news release said.

The Associated Press and local CBS affiliate KTVL captured Bush’s principled stand against civil liberties in news accounts published immediately after the event.

The AP reported:

Three Medford school teachers were threatened with arrest and escorted from the event after they showed up wearing T-shirts with the slogan "Protect our civil liberties." All three said they applied for and received valid tickets from Republican headquarters in Medford.

The women said they did not intend to protest. "I wanted to see if I would be able to make a statement that I feel is important, but not offensive, in a rally for my president," said Janet Voorhies, 48, a teacher in training.

“We chose this phrase specifically because we didn't think it would be offensive or degrading or obscene," said Tania Tong, 34, a special education teacher.

Thursday’s event in Oregon sets a new bar for a Bush/Cheney campaign that has taken extraordinary measures to screen the opinions of those who attend Bush and Cheney speeches. For months, the Bush/Cheney campaign has limited event access to those willing to volunteer in Bush/Cheney campaign offices. In recent weeks, the Bush/Cheney campaign has gone so far as to have those who voice dissenting viewpoints at their events arrested and charged as criminals.

Thursday’s actions in Oregon set a new standard even for Bush/Cheney – removing and threatening with arrest citizens who in no way disrupt an event and wear clothing that expresses non-disruptive party-neutral viewpoints such as “Protect Our Civil Liberties.”

When Vice President Dick Cheney visited Eugene, Oregon on Sept. 17, a 54-Year old woman named Perry Patterson was charged with criminal trespass for blurting the word "No" when Cheney said that George W. Bush has made the world safer.

One day before, Sue Niederer, 55, the mother of a slain American soldier in Iraq was cuffed and arrested for criminal trespass when she interrupted a Laura Bush speech in New Jersey. Both women had tickets to the event.

Six to Be Tried in Pa. Bush Thong Protest
Thu Oct 14, 7:35 PM ET
By DAVID B. CARUSO, Associated Press Writer

PHILADELPHIA - The American Civil Liberties Union is defending six men who were arrested during one of President Bush's visits to Pennsylvania because they stripped down to thong underwear and formed a human pyramid to protest the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq.

The six were hauled away by police and charged with disorderly conduct on July 9, shortly after piling atop each other at the side of a road carrying Bush's motorcade in Lancaster County.

The men said they were trying to shame the president by re-creating an image of naked prisoners forced to assume a similar position by U.S. soldiers.

They weren't breaking any laws and should have been left alone, said Paula Knudsen, an ACLU attorney.

"The First Amendment protects many types of speech," she said. "What the defendants did in this case was clearly protected by the First Amendment, even though some people found it offensive."

The six are scheduled to go before a district justice on the charges Monday. They face a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $300 fine if convicted.

The Lancaster County prosecutor assigned to the case did not immediately return a phone call Thursday.

Knudsen said the men's clothing, while revealing, was no different than someone might wear at a beach, or what countless actors have worn on broadcast television.

The men performed the stunt near Smoketown, about 55 miles west of Philadelphia in Amish country.

Defendants' Web site: http://www.thesmoketownsix.us/
Additional link: http://www.aclu.org/FreeSpeech/FreeSpeech.cfm?ID=16824&c=86


Actual number of arrests at the RNC by day three: 1,720

Compare that to the number of people arrested at the 2004 Democratic National Convention: 6
and the number of people arrested at the 2000 Republican convention in Philadelphia: 420

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