Wednesday, February 01, 2006

It's Not What You Say, But How You Wear It

Last night was President Bush's sixth State of the Union Address. The big news coming out of the evening? Any new major programs? Any earthshattering new ideas to resolve our foreign or domestic problems?

No. The news story is that Cindy Sheehan got arrested for wearing a t-shirt.

The press jumped all over this event - Sheehan + arrest + t-shirt = protest, right? That's got to be the only answer.

Well, according to Cindy Sheehan herself, this couldn't be further from the truth. PLEASE read her side of the story to get the facts in this matter. If Cindy was TRYING to interrupt the State of the Union address, then WHY would she have taken her coat off about 45 minutes PRIOR to the beginning of the Address. Say what you will about Sheehan, but you can't argue the fact that she's done the whole "protest" thing a few times, and more than likely knows the most effective way to cause an interruption.

In trying to find out more about the "incident", I stumbled upon the Puppet Sympathizer Michelle Malkin's idiotic post about it, entitled "Shame on Lynn Woolsey", as Rep. Woolsey was the individual who invited Cindy to attend the Address.

What Balkin' Malkin fails to mention is that there was another arrest, as well. Beverly Young, WIFE of Congressman Bill Young (R-FL), was also arrested for wearing a t-shirt - this time in support of the troops (as though Sheehan's shirt was NOT supporting the TROOPS?). If Rep. Woolsey is to be "shamed" for inviting Sheehan to attend, where is the reprimand for Rep. Young, whose own WIFE was wearing an "inflammatory" shirt? IN fact, there is little to no attention given to Beverly Young.

Go ahead - Google Cindy Sheehan in Google News and then do the same for Beverly Young and tell me who has more hits relative to last night's Address.

And what about last year's State of the Union address, when Republicans all dyed their fingers purple in support of the Iraqi vote? Shouldn't that be considered a form of "protest" as well? Shouldn't all of those Republicans be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor, as well?

The simple fact is this - both should be allowed to wear whatever the hell they want! Is it just me, or is it no coincidence that Alito is sworn in yesterday afternoon, and just hours later, two individuals are arrested for attempting free speech in the one place where it should be MOST allowed!

So, the individual whose opinion differed from that of the President was arrested last night. A political opponent taken away. Can you say "Police State?" I knew you could.

And I promise you, this is just the beginning...

UPDATE: AmericaBlog just picked up the Beverly Young angle, as well. Good. John's audience is a hell of a lot bigger than mine. :)

He also links to Unclaimed Territory, who points out what the law states with regards to t-shirts and protests:
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).

As the Bynum court explained: "Believing that the Capitol Police needed guidance in determining what behavior constitutes a 'demonstration,' the United States Capitol Police Board issued a regulation that interprets 'demonstration activity,'" and that regulation specifically provides that it "does not include merely wearing Tee shirts, buttons or other similar articles of apparel that convey a message. Traffic Regulations for the Capitol Grounds, § 158" (emphasis added).

Posted by FleshPresser at 12:47 PM /


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