Free Speech Zones

Here's something I think is worth talking about.

How do you feel about the idea of effectively quarantining the President from protestors? Do you think he is entitled to only have supporters in the crowd when he speaks?

Do you think the protestors rights have been violated? I know 2 people who will undoubtedly say, 'No, because they still got to protest inside the FSZ.' but what makes the supporters privileged? Why does content determine whether you get to stand close by to hear the President, or a third of a mile away?

I don't think you can really justify doing it by saying it makes the President more secure either, except perhaps from random kooks too zonked to know better.

I know I''m disappointed everytime I see one of the Democratic nominees at a town-hall or debate and don''t see lots of Bush-Cheney signs. I think it is abhorrent that the Democrats are stifling the rights of Republicans to protest at these events.

So there''s no difference between a nominee and an elected official? You feel the President has the right to only speak directly to his supporters?

I think that stifling any sort of protest is abhorrent. Let the protestors have their say, so long as they are respectful of the forum and the other participants.

I think it is legitimate if, say, a bunch of Bush supproters hold up signs at a Dean rally, or ask pointed questions if there is a Q&A session.

I don''t think that trying to drown out the candidate with ""Dean (or Bush) Sucks"" chants is all that useful, and those individuals ought to be removed to a safe zone in the local constabulary.

Its all part of the marginalizing of debate. Candidates should have to address their critics. If they don''t want to be criticised, they shouldn''t run.

If speaking in a public place, it is public - to anyone regardless of views. However, if I rent a hall or something, I should be able to keep anyone out I want to.

You feel the President has the right to only speak directly to his supporters?

If he wants to, sure. The general history of protesters at Republican events shows they are generally the ""shout you down"" types. They add nothing to the debate. Bush, like anybody else, has the right to get out his message, without having his freedom of speech impeded by these protesters. If this is a bad thing, then lefty newspapers can write poorly-structured editorials complaining about it and try to convince people not to vote for him.

The idea that these people are having their rights violated or even that protest is being stifled is ridiculous. What they are really complaining about is not being able to use the president''s media coverage to get attention for themselves. If their message is so important and powerful, they shouldn''t have to ride someone else''s coattails to get it out.

Ok but when did the President giving a speech to the public become a ''Republican Event''? I would agree that if he was asked to speak by some organization to a private audience, then yeah you''re definitely correct.

But assume for the sake of argument this is a public speech in a public place and everyone is de facto invited, and that no one is being disruptive or shouting anyone down, just that those with signs showing support are allowed inside the cordon and those with protest signs are not. Why should political affiliation come into play at all in that context?

You claimed that the protestors were using the media coverage to gain attention to their cause? Isn''t the President essentially doing the same thing by presenting an inaccurate and incomplete portrait of the audience by allowing supporters only? What makes it ok for him to do it, but protestors must be criticized?

The trouble is protesting the President is too much of a photo op for protest groups to be civil enough not to shout him down.

Why is getting together into an angry mob supposed to be an admirable activity anyway? Mobs don''t change minds. Mobs aren''t going to move the swing voters. Forming a mob isn''t going to help anyone''s cause (except maybe the opposition). This politics of angst is getting mighty old.

But assume for the sake of argument this is a public speech in a public place and everyone is de facto invited, and that no one is being disruptive or shouting anyone down, just that those with signs showing support are allowed inside the cordon and those with protest signs are not.

If the history of protesters indicated that they would peacefully hold their signs and not do anything to disrupt the event, then they would probably be welcome. But these days, the goals of protesters is to interfere with the debate, not add to it.

Isn''t the President essentially doing the same thing by presenting an inaccurate and incomplete portrait of the audience by allowing supporters only?

Well, technically he''s presenting an accurate portrait of the audience, if only supporters are allowed to be there. Your question assumes that protesters offer some legitimately represented message, and I would have to say that they are about the most unrepresentative ideological minority there is.

I would have to say that they are about the most unrepresentative ideological minority there is.

Hmm I would argue the need to create separate protest zones shows that they must be at least a little representative. If it was just a small number I don''t see the necessity of going to all that trouble.

And yeah I am working under the asumption that there can be civil protest. I realize there''s extremists too, and maybe my perspective is skewed because I haven''t been to any speeches with crowds of protestors being turned away. But the article talking about grandmothers and 62 year old men being arrested for holding up a sign didn''t really give me the impression that it was similar to the people rioting wherever the WTO meets.

I''d also like to point out that if someone is already angry and feeling marginalized, the best way to get them to calm down and listen quietly is probably not to move them half a mile away and/or arrest them.

Hmm I would argue the need to create separate protest zones shows that they must be at least a little representative. If it was just a small number I don''t see the necessity of going to all that trouble.

Just because there are a lot of vocal people who like to go to opposition rallies, that doesn''t mean that they represent more than a tiny portion of the population - and by that I don''t mean that Bush doesn''t have signifigant opposition, just that they aren''t represented by the ""Bush is Hitler!"" shouting crowd.

And yeah I am working under the asumption that there can be civil protest. I realize there''s extremists too, and maybe my perspective is skewed because I haven''t been to any speeches with crowds of protestors being turned away. But the article talking about grandmothers and 62 year old men being arrested for holding up a sign didn''t really give me the impression that it was similar to the people rioting wherever the WTO meets.

Well it is unfortunate if those who choose to be disruptive have ruined it for those who now would choose to be civil in their protests, but you should be complaining about the trouble-makers, not the guy trying to get his message out without being shouted down by morons.

Only a few months ago I shared the concerns and would have probably been right there with Ockham on the matter, but this is one of those rare instances where JMJ and Ral''s comments made something like sense to me and persuaded me. We''d never get anything done if every official had to spend 90% of their public time engaging in shouting matches.

Only a few months ago I shared the concerns and would have probably been right there with Ockham on the matter, but this is one of those rare instances where JMJ and Ral''s comments made something like sense to me and persuaded me. We''d never get anything done if every official had to spend 90% of their public time engaging in shouting matches.

I agree. What I don''t like is when Bush uses the Secret Service to stifle peaceful, silent protestors who were there for their relatives'' graduation.

personal account of victim

the protest website

I don''t know - you''ll pardon me if I don''t take at face value the account of someone who calls the president Chimpy and makes immediate Nazi references... He may have an agenda to push with this ""account"" of what happened.

There was a far better account I had read over a year ago written by a woman who suffered the same treatment. Hers was very well written and reasonable, but I have unfortunately not found it yet. This was the best I could find on short notice. If this guy''s account were the first I''d read of this, I''d probably ignore it.