From Voice of San Diego.org :
Where Has All the Free Speech Gone?
By KEITH TAYLOR
Voice Guest Columnist
Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2005
George Bush is my president. I'm not all that happy about it, but that's the way it is. Possibly George isn't happy about me either. Still we have one president at a time, and he is supposed to represent everybody whether he likes them or not. I think that means he shouldn't isolate himself from his dissenters. But it isn't happening that way.
On Veterans Day, Bush skipped the annual president's visit to Arlington, sending his veep instead. And where was the president? He was in Wilkes Barre, Pa., defending his war to a group of carefully selected veterans.
Not everybody gets in to hear Bush make a speech. The response was enthusiastic and every bit as spontaneous as the laugh track for a second-rate TV comedy. On his recent visit to San Diego our president appeared behind the gates of Naval Air Station North Island. The general public wasn't invited. The unwashed could stand outside but so far away our commander-in-chief (CINC) couldn't see them.
Anybody who wanted to wave a sign or shout words of discouragement could do so I suppose, but the president wouldn't know about it unless someone told him, and we know how that goes.
Of course being president is a dangerous job. Extraordinary means are required to protect him, but sometimes it goes so far even his fellow conservatives take note.
Here's a clip from a piece by James Bovard in a 2003 issue of The American Conservative: "the local police, at the Secret Service's behest, set up a 'designated free-speech zone' on a baseball field surrounded by a chain-link fence a third of a mile from the location of Bush's speech."
That was for the president's speech on Labor Day 2002. Let me be the umpteenth person to lament the fact that the entire United States of America was, but is no longer, a free-speech zone!
During the last campaign both candidates were given extraordinary protection, including those misnamed free-speech zones, but the Republicans, even then, managed to take it a notch higher. Folks had to dress the part. Anybody showing up at a Bush rally wearing a Kerry T-shirt was kept out. Folks wearing Bush T-shirts were allowed in to Kerry rallies. Kathy Meade, a teacher in Travers City, Mich., had tickets to a Bush rally but bought a small Kerry sticker and put it on her lapel. Security personnel stopped her and when she refused to remove it they tore up her tickets and evicted her.
Barbara Miller of Midland, Mich., was held up at the gate of another Bush rally for wearing a "Pro-Choice" T-shirt. She removed the shirt in order to gain admittance. Apparently that wasn't enough. Later security guards came down and removed both Barbara and her family. Such incidents are still being carried out by this administration.
Now it is catching on here in freewheeling California. Arnold Schwarzenegger is my governor. I'm not happy about that either. "Girlie men" indeed!
Arnie, until a week ago last Tuesday, had aspirations of becoming president himself just as soon as he got a good handle on the language, and as soon as we changed the Constitution just for him.
He was in town touting his qualifications but, like George, only to those he approved of. Warren Beatty and his wife, Annette Bening, didn't make the select list, but our deposed mayor, Roger Hedgecock, did. The two bona fide movie stars were stopped at the door and refused entrance. I'm guessing the governator was afraid Beatty would hit him with his Oscar, or maybe just show it to him. I'm also guessing Arnold has never seen one in person. Hedgecock showed his usual disdain for things he can't understand by calling Beatty a washed-up actor. He further exhibited his expertise of things Hollywood by saying "'Dick Tracy' was a terrible movie -- just terrible." Then Roger extolled Arnold Schwarzenegger.
All this is happening in a place being run by the guys who claim to be uniters, not dividers. Their sentiments are exemplified best by Ron Nehring, chairman of the Republican Party of San Diego County who said, "We're standing up here while these Hollywood liberals are here in our county," he sneered. "They should just go back to Hollywood, go back to Beverly Hills and leave reforming California to us."
Meanwhile let's remember the words of another American, Frederick Douglass, who understood what it meant to be ignored: "Liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one's thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist. That, of all rights, is the dread of tyrants. It is the right which they first of all strike down."
Keith Taylor is a retired Navy officer. He can be reached at KRTaylorxyz@aol.com.