Just another perspective on an earlier posting, in which ProtestWarrior Gil Kobrin defended his confrontation of peace activists in Northwest Washington by stating, "We're expressing our freedom of speech just as they are expressing theirs."
Oh, right, you mean this kind of liberal freedom of speech, which involved arresting people for having the wrong kind of t-shirt at a Bush rally? Or maybe even this generic freedom of speech, which involved evicting three schoolteachers who simply thought protecting civil liberties was a good thing?
One suspects that, when it comes to free speech, the right-wing Kobrin should be the last person trying to equate the treatment on both sides of the ideological spectrum until he, you know, gets a freaking clue.
FURTHER RELATED MUSINGS, Monday, Jan. 24
It's worth pointing out that suppressing someone's freedom of speech doesn't always have to be a violent, confrontational thing. You can be just as successful in a subtle, more genteel way by simply preventing them from participating in the political process as even a spectator.
Recall the infamous Bush "loyalty oath", described here and written up in numerous other places, which required people who simply wanted to listen to campaign speeches by Bush or Cheney to promise that they already supported those candidates. The official justifications of those oaths were hilariously inept and irrelevant.
As you can read in that initial article, rally organizers claimed that they were trying to prevent disruption of the rallies by a sinister but nameless "known Democrat operative group." But how they could do this with the use of a loyalty oath is a bit of a puzzle. Did the organizers imagine that the hypothetical troublemakers were going to show up incognito, rubbing their hands with glee, thinking, "OK, we're here, let's get ready, we're going to cause all kinds of trouble and mayhem, just have to get inside and ... whoa, what's this, we need to sign this piece of paper? Hey, I can't pledge allegiance to Bush, that would be just ... well, wrong and unethical. Darn, I guess we'll just have to all go home." I'm pretty sure even Republicans aren't dense enough to imagine that happening.
But it's doubly absurd to have required that loyalty oath, since some of the people who wanted to attend were not registered Democrats; they were, in fact, undecided voters:
"I'm outraged at this. I'm being closed off by my own government. It's crazy," said East Mountains resident Pamela Random, who added that she is an unaffiliated voter.
As most sentient beings realize, one of the first rules of marketing is that you don't waste your time and money marketing to people who are already your loyal and committed customers -- you go after new clients to grow your customer base. From the political perspective, undecided and unaffiliated voters are precisely who you should be trying to attract. And yet, here we have the Republicans, dismissing exactly those people. There's little political sense in that, until you realize that the Republicans had no interest in attracting new voters. Rather, they were more interested in showing a united front with absolutely no possibility of even the slightest hint of dissension or questioning. In short, if you weren't already totally on board, you had no value to the Bush campaign, and they really didn't give a crap about what you might have to say.
In any event, you can see the pattern here. Unless you were a confirmed, committed Bush-backer, prepared to swear absolute fealty in writing, you just didn't matter. You might technically have had freedom of speech, but not in any way that allowed you to be heard. Is anyone surprised?
ONE MORE MUSING
Kos has an excerpt from an interview in which one medical corpsman tells the story of soldiers in Iraq having to sign a loyalty oath to participate in Bush's sleazy, opportunistic photo-op involving a turkey that troops never got to eat. Apparently, Democratic soldiers are good enough to die for BushCo, but not good enough to be treated like human beings by their snivelling, cowardly Chimp-in-Chief.
Does this even remotely surprise anyone anymore?