Free the T-shirts!

Leslie Carlson

Here's the Bush campaign, giving new meaning the to phrase "dress conservatively" in Jackson County on Thursday night.

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    Is this really what we've come to?

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    Apparently. Jeez. Bush spouts on and on about this new "freedom" and "liberty" that we're supposedly imparting upon Iraq when right here, in "the land of the free and the home of the brave" we often seem to be neither.

    Luckily the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is on our side.

    It's the case about protesters being forced through metal detectors. Here's a great quote from the ruling:

    We cannot simply suspend or restrict civil liberties until the War of [sic] Terror is over, because the War on Terror is unlikely ever to be truly over.

    It's about time somebody said it.

  • Anthony (unverified)

    What we've come to is an age of political zealots who see nothing wrong with disrupting the opposition party's campaign events.

    Did the staffers overreact on this occasion? Probably. But was it totally unreasonable to expect some kind of disruption from people who were obviously there to make a point and not to merely participate in the event? No.

    Such disruptions have actually been regarded favorably at this site.

    Leslie, Rachel and CC relish the most tenuous opportunity to wax histrionically at a supposed threat to civil rights, but they are blithely unconcerned about the often uncivil behavior perpetrated by people on their side.

    It has to be obvious to Leslie, et al., that the Bush campaign rally staffers had no antipathy to what was written on the shirts, but only worried that these were infiltrators likely to cause trouble. It was a clever little trick. To start raising the alarms about the impingement of civil rights is more than a little excessive.

    If you want to see real impingement of expression itself, check out the speech codes at universities, including public ones. These strictures aren't coming from the right.

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    Such disruptions have actually been regarded favorably at this site.

    I see nothing wrong with walking to the bathroom with a t-shirt on - regardless of what it said. That is not a "disruption" by any sense of the word.

    Furthermore, since this is a presidential campaign stop, these women had even more of a right to be there than if it were, say, an NRA convention or something - why? These women pay taxes and part of each event for both candidates is funded by federal dollars. Unless they were doing something out-and-out disruptive or illegal, they should have been allowed to stay.

    I've been at events before with obnoxious, obnoxious hecklers. Nobody escorted them out, they just let 'em wear out their voice. Not giving them the reaction they want is better than anything else you can do.

    All events on both sides of the aisle have someone from the opposing team show up to make a point. It happens. But if someone is being quiet and just wearing a t-shirt (even if it said Kerry/Edwards 2004!), it's in the event staff's best interest to just let 'em stay because otherwise things like this become newsworthy (especially when it happens repeatedly). Free press and all, you know. Ignoring them works best, IMHO. The protesters don't get the reaction they want, and the campaign doesn't end up in the local newspaper of a state it is LOSING for, essentially, overreacting.

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    Anthony: You are correct that political campaigns (particularly presidential campaigns) have always tried to exclude organized protesters, especially from opposing campaigns.

    What's different this year is that the Bush campaign has started excluding ordinary people who are just voicing their dissent by wearing a sticker, button or t-shirt. By all reports these are just regular people: high school students, teachers, members of the armed forces, even elected city councilors. They are excluded from rallies on the basis of being a "threat," the threat being apparently determined by the exercising of free speech rights.

    By contrast, there are no reports of similar screening and exclusion from Kerry rallies. There is even an Ohio University math professor who tested campaign rallies of both candidates by wearing the opposing candidate's t-shirts. Guess what? The Bush campaign kicked him out. He then wore a neutral t-shirt and tried to get back in the Bush rally. He was recognized again, and asked to leave. By contrast, the Kerry campaign let him in wearing a Bush t-shirt and no one said a thing.

    The national media is starting to notice: see Nina Totenberg's story at

  • MightyPen (unverified)

    Maybe they would've liked these shirts better...

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    "Protect our civil liberties" is now "disruptive" and "obscene"?

    <h2>No wonder I've heard people mention George Orwell more times this year than the 52 that preceded it.</h2>

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