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Others Arrested For Anti-Bush T-shirts

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Cindy Sheehan and Beverly Young Aren’t the First to Get Booted for T-shirts

By Matthew Rothschild

February 2, 2006

Progressive.org

The booting of Cindy Sheehan and Beverly Young from the Capitol during the State of the Union Address because of their T-shirts was not an isolated event.

In the Bush Age, such hostility to free speech has become all too common. Students have been booted from school, shoppers from malls, protesters from Bush rallies, simply as a result of the shirts on their fronts.

Stephen F. Downs, the chief lawyer for New York State's Commission on Judicial Conduct, was arrested on March 3, 2003, for refusing to take off a peace T-shirt in a mall near Albany.

The shirt said "Peace on Earth" on one side and "Give Peace a Chance" on the other. He had just purchased the shirt in Crossgates Mall, the same mall that ordered him to remove it.

When the mall's security guards told him to take the shirt off or leave the premises, Downs refused. They called the police, and he was handcuffed, arrested, and charged with trespassing.

Downs pleaded not guilty, and the mall later dropped the charges.

Bretton Barber was a junior at Dearborn High School in Michigan on February 17, 2003. That day, he was wearing a T-shirt that had a picture of Bush on it and the words "International Terrorist." "At lunch, the vice principal came and said I had to turn it inside out or go home," Barber told The New York Times on Feb. 26. Barber went home--and called the ACLU.

A judge later ruled that Barber must be allowed to wear the shirt in school.

Nicole and Jeff Rank were in Charleston, West Virginia, on July 4, 2004, to protest a visit by President Bush to the state capitol.

The Ranks, who are from Corpus Christi, Texas, gathered outside the capitol. People near them "wore pro-Bush T-shirts and Bush-Cheney campaign buttons, some of which were sold on the capitol grounds," according to the Charleston Gazette.

Not the Ranks. They were wearing T-shirts that read "Love America, Hate Bush," the Gazette reported.

The police evidently did not take kindly to that.

"Law enforcement officers told the couple to take the shirts off, cover them, or get out," AP reported. "When they refused and sat down, they were arrested." Two weeks later, the city apologized.

Jayson Nelson is a county supervisor in Wisconsin. On July 14, 2004, President Bush came to Wisconsin and gave a speech in a town called Ashwaubenon, and Jayson Nelson wanted to hear him.

He was wearing a "Kerry for President" T-shirt underneath his buttoned up blue denim shirt.

As he approached the final screening point, Nelson says a Republican event staffer demanded that he step out of the line and take off his top shirt.

"At first, I thought she wasn't even talking to me," he recalls, "because who tells you that stuff? So I ignored her and kept going forward and then she told me again, 'You, you, you, step out of line. You've got to take off your shirt.' "

She told the police to look at his T-shirt, and the police told him he couldn't be there and to get going, Nelson remembers.

On his way out, the Secret Service also stopped him. "They took my driver's license and wrote down my Social Security number and telephone number," he says. "I started to ask, 'What's going on here? Is a T-shirt illegal?' ”

My favorite story, if you can call it that, is of three teachers in Oregon who were sent packing from a Bush rally for wearing shirts that said ”Protect Our Civil Liberties.”

On October 14, 2004, they decided to attend a Bush rally at the Jackson County Fairgrounds near Medford, where they teach. They wanted to see their President, and they also wanted to stand up for First Amendment rights, since they had heard on NPR that the Bush campaign was curtailing such rights all along the trail.

So they came up with an ingenious idea. They obtained tickets for the event, and they made and wore T-shirts that said, "Protect Our Civil Liberties." Alas, they were not allowed to hear the President. In fact, they were threatened with arrest.

I talked with two of the three teachers, Tania Tong and her sister, Candice Julian, both of whom teach special education to elementary school children in Medford. The third is a student teacher named Janet Voorhies, who works with Tong.

"We didn't want to come up with anything that was offensive or antagonistic," says Julian, who says it was her idea to have the shirts say, "Protect Our Civil Liberties."

"We were concerned about stories we had heard about people trying to go to participate in rallies and being denied access because they had paraphernalia that said something about Kerry," Tong explains. "We wanted to voice our opinion in a way that wasn't degrading to anybody.

The shirt was really kind of benign."

At the fairgrounds, they showed their driver's licenses and tickets at the first checkpoint. Campaign officials "were scrutinizing our T-shirts," Julian says, but they let the three in.

At the second checkpoint, which consisted of a metal detector staffed by the Secret Service, more questions arose.

"People came up and said, 'Do you know this is a Bush rally? We're concerned about your T-shirts,' " recalls Tong.

"We asked them why.

"They said, 'We don't want anything that's going to cause a disruption.'

"Then they asked, 'Are you going to vote for Bush?'

"And I said that I was undecided and my sister Candice said she was choosing not to answer because it's a personal decision."

The campaign officials said they could go in if they could guarantee they would not make a scene, Tong says. "We assured them that we did not come with any intention of being disorderly, so they said fine and said they respected our differing opinions," she recalls.

At that point, the three teachers assumed they were in, and that they could take their seats and listen to the President.

No such luck.

Campaign officials soon told all three women to leave.

One official called their shirts “obscene,” Tong recalls.

The police then threatened them with disorderly conduct if they didn’t take off.

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This is totally ridiculous, I believe this goes against the freedom of Free speech. You shouldn't be judged for what you believe in, what the colour or heritage of your skin in blood is, or of your sexual orientation. Bush and primarily the conservative party is really starting to bend the rules on the constituation.

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Wow its really sad when the officials of an "elected" president of a "democratic" country begin to "dictate" what is and is not appropriate to wear, to be discriminated against for wearing shirts promoting non offensive political views and peace messages is quite pathetic and in a way verging on scary... :unsure2: the iorn fist of republicanism???

Edited by Iorning_Board

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I used to remember hearing something the states had...freedom of....oh what was it....speech? yeah I think that's it. sheeesh.

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Could be signs of a dictatorship? <_<

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I'll have to admit. This is getting scary.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “Those who would trade safety for freedom deserve neither.”

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I'll have to admit. This is getting scary.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “Those who would trade safety for freedom deserve neither.”

It's: "Those who trade freedom for safety deserve neither."

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It's: "Those who trade freedom for safety deserve neither."

*Moan...*

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It's: "Those who trade freedom for safety deserve neither."

actually it was more along the lines of "those who trade freedom for temporary safety deserve neither" but hey

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actually it was more along the lines of

OK, I'm a skeptic and I am anal about alot of stuff, but the point came across regardless of the semantic details. Going off on tangents like this only serves to detract from the point. Do you still remember the point ? Does anyone?

Endymion raises a good one in the simple post...

Could be signs of a dictatorship?

That concerns me far more than the exact phrasing of a quote from more than 200 years ago.

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its no suprise, theres no such things as true democracy anymore (its been bent for "anti-terrorism" laws which also seem to affect non terrorist related things)

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which also seem to affect non terrorist related things)

That is what happens when you use dynomite to kill ants...

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How, exactly, can they justify that as being 'Disorderly Conduct'? Expressing an opinion in a polite and civil manor is not only legal, but also protected in the bill of rights. I could understand asking them to leave had they been jumping around, screaming "**** Bush!" and harassing other attendees, but threatening them with arrest over a political t-shirt is fairly ludicrous.

And why should only Bush supporters be allowed to attend his speeches? The president is there to serve everyone, not just the people who voted for him.

Attacks on Freedom of Speech really p*** me off, even if using a shirt as a means of conveyance is rather immature and futile.

Could be signs of a dictatorship? <_<

I'm curious as to how, exactly, the American government works. I was far too young to understand it when I lived there and I'm in another country now. Does your system allow for minority governments? If so, do the Republicans currently hold a majority?

Majority governments are generally a bad thing, often creating a 'friendly' dictatorship within a country. It basically allows to ruling party to do as they please, which is an unfair representation of what the general public wants.

Obviously, I'm basing this on Canadian politics. I'd appreciate it if someone could enlighten me to your crazy American ways.

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Wow its really sad when the officials of an "elected" president of a "democratic" country begin to "dictate" what is and is not appropriate to wear, to be discriminated against for wearing shirts promoting non offensive political views and peace messages is quite pathetic and in a way verging on scary...

What if you threw a party at your house and it was supposed to be a formal gathering and a bunch of people showed up wearing inappropriate attire. Would you ask them to leave? Or does freedom of speech mean I can wear anything I damn will please to your party whether you like it or not? And if you ask me to leave and I say 'Screw you...I ain't leavin'!

...are you just going to say okay? Or will you call the police?

This isn't a 'public' event. It is invited guests only...and if an invited guest isn't behaving appropriately, what is the big deal if they are asked to leave?

The other thing is....How completely crass and low-class minded of anyone to go to such a function not dressed up to the hilt! Shehann should have known better...the Senator's wife most definitely should have known better. Grow up People!

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That is a valid point. Private, public.

Even has some back-up from the US Supreme Court.

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What if you threw a party at your house and it was supposed to be a formal gathering and a bunch of people showed up wearing inappropriate attire.

So shopping malls and public schools now qualify as formal gatherings? Or are you referring only to political rallies? If it's the latter, touche. You make a good point.

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My head hurts.

If it is private, they have the right to screen participants. If it is public as any political rally should be, then no.

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The only problem I have is how the original post is framed, not really with the actions in it. As presented it brings an emotional knee-jerk reaction... persuasive writing. Needed for selling ice to Eskimos.

Why don't they ever say "rude, vulgar malcontents" instead of "protester"? Have you guys seen video of these "protests"? Rude, Disruptive, Obnoxious, Vulgar Malcontents describes them better in most cases.

Sorry if I don't believe the story as reported. Been lied to too many times back when I was a liberal it sticks out like a sore thumb when I read it now.

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Seraphina has been lured out of retirement to make a brief pit stop at the forum. Older and wiser...or when compared to some younger and wiser, she has this to say.

Someone who goes to a republican rally wearing anti-bush slogans is quite clearly there to look for trouble, and yes, should be asked to leave. That's pretty much common sense. But that simple isn't the case now, is it?

A school is not a private gathering...a shopping mall is not a private gathering. Being out in public does not constitute being at a private gathering.

Just because you live in the US does not mean you are a guest in Bush's house, or that you should keep your mouth shut and act like you like everything he says or does. Bush does not own the country; he's a temp worker, hired by the population of a country: a population who, if he has his way, will have half their number silenced by him.

In fairness to Bush, who I give precious little credit for anything, the incident at the school and the shopping mall don't really have anything to do with him: Far more to do with the typical zealots who support him, who spot someone in an anti-bush t-shirt and start foaming at the mouth while screaming: "Pinko-commie-liberal-leftist-flipflopping-athiest-homoloving-quasi european slime!" without having even the vaguest idea what any of the proceeding words mean.

More than anything, this just underlines the problems of living in a right wing country, rather than living under Bush...although Bush isn't quite off the hook, since if he WAS activly squashing people's freedom of speech, it certainly wouldn't be out of the norm.

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Could be signs of a dictatorship? <_<

That would never happen! Not only is our entire military a volunteer force that would turn on the dictator in a heartbeat, but our citizens have so many guns it aint even funny!

:w00t:

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What if you threw a party at your house and it was supposed to be a formal gathering and a bunch of people showed up wearing inappropriate attire. Would you ask them to leave? Or does freedom of speech mean I can wear anything I damn will please to your party whether you like it or not? And if you ask me to leave and I say 'Screw you...I ain't leavin'!

...are you just going to say okay? Or will you call the police?

This isn't a 'public' event. It is invited guests only...and if an invited guest isn't behaving appropriately, what is the big deal if they are asked to leave?

The other thing is....How completely crass and low-class minded of anyone to go to such a function not dressed up to the hilt! Shehann should have known better...the Senator's wife most definitely should have known better. Grow up People!

You are entitled to your political opinion, as am I, in my eyes its wrong to be arrested for peacefully "protesting" the rule of an ass... I mean "democratically" elected government official... I mean police action because the guy was wearing a shirt displaying his decision in voting for a competing partys representative is WRONG... If you think this is ok then thats your opinion and I will try my hardest to respect it...

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That would never happen! Not only is our entire military a volunteer force that would turn on the dictator in a heartbeat, but our citizens have so many guns it aint even funny!

Not if it was done subtley and incrementally

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Someone who goes to a republican rally wearing anti-bush slogans is quite clearly there to look for trouble, and yes, should be asked to leave. That's pretty much common sense. But that simple isn't the case now, is it?

If a person goes to a republican rally wearing anti-whoever slogans or holding signs of the same....if that rally is outside within the public domain...screw whoever...they have the right to be there and protest their little brains out....malcontents or not. However, if the republican rally is being held inside a building....where the republicans (or whoever) have paid to rent the space....not everyone is welcome, nor should they be.

A school is not a private gathering...a shopping mall is not a private gathering. Being out in public does not constitute being at a private gathering.

Correct on all of the above. However, The State of the Union address is not a public gathering. The law requires The Address be given...it doesn't stipulate how or where...simply that the populace be informed by the president of the state of affairs.

When the president of Whoever's Party gives the Address....and he does so in the forum of an 'invited only' guest roster...it is a private function. But you might look at it one other way if you don't agree with that:

Consider a court of law. It is a 'public' forum...but the Judge sets the rules for his/her court considering dress. If you walk into the court in a T shirt and cut-off shorts you would be escorted out by the bailiff.

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Florida Rep.'s Wife Says She Was Ejected From State Of Union

POSTED: 7:07 am EST February 1, 2006

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The wife of Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores, told a newspaper that she was ejected during the State of the Union address for wearing a T-shirt that says, "Support the Troops Defending Our Freedom."

Beverly Young told the St. Petersburg Times that she was sitting in the front row of the House gallery Tuesday night when she was approached by someone who told her she needed to leave.

She said she reluctantly agreed, but argued with several officers in an outside hallway.

In a telephone interview with the newspaper, Young said she told them her shirt wasn't a protest but a message of support.

Capitol Police Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said Young wasn't ejected from the gallery and she left on her own. She couldn't provide additional details.

Young's husband found out about the incident after Bush's speech and called it unacceptable.

http://www.local6.com/news/6647094/detail.html

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