It's now Illegal to turn your back on the President. Oh, and you will also be expelled from the University too.
Have a nice day.
From accounts of Bush's speech at Ohio State University, where there were plans to protest by people silently turning their back to Bush as he spoke:
"[...] in my search for an organizer of Turn Your Back On Bush, I did indeed hear the announcement. Graduating students were told that they would be expelled and arrested if they turned their backs. they were alerted that dozens of staff memebers and police officers would be watching the stands, as well as the Secret Service. A few students asked for the definition of expulsion....did it mean removal from the stadium or refusal of their diplomas, or both? One of the persons at the front said "Both."
"anyone demonstrating or heckling would be subject to expulsion and arrest. The announcer urged that Bush be greeted with a "thunderous" ovation."
From The Lantern - the OSU Newspaper:
Justin Schwartz, a 1998 graduate of the Moritz College of Law, sent a letter to many university officials "about the suppression of free speech and peaceful dissent" of protesters.
"The university officials threatened to use their power to stop constitutional rights," Schwartz said.
"People were terrified to speak out," Schwartz said. "It's not surprising he did not get a lot of opposition."
From The Columbus Dispatch:
Bush was invited to speak at the Ohio State commencement by representatives of the graduating class. But immediately before class members filed into the giant football stadium, an announcer instructed the crowd that all the university's speakers deserve to be treated with respect and that anyone demonstrating or heckling would be subject to expulsion and arrest. The announcer urged that Bush be greeted with a "thunderous" ovation.
This is from infojunkies in an article from the 16th of June. I saw it today in
There are allegations that the Washington Post changed an article about the event after the uproar gathered.
This protest was squelched quickly. This seems to be an application of Satyagraha --- nonviolent noncooperation used by Mahatma Gandhi and others.
You'd think that a much louder, ruder protest should also be suppressed. From The Sacremento Bee:
The commencement address for mid-year graduates at California State University, Sacramento, was halted Saturday after audience members in the packed house at Arco Arena drowned out the speech with heckling.
Janis Besler Heaphy, president and publisher of The Sacramento Bee, was speaking before the largest crowd ever for a CSUS graduation ceremony about the threats to civil liberties posed by the federal government's investigation into the Sept. 11 attacks. Her comments were drowned out about five minutes into the eight-minute speech when a segment of the audience began to stomp and clap in protest to her words.
During her speech, the heckling began after Heaphy voiced concerns about racial profiling, the suspension of civil rights of suspects in the Sept. 11 attacks, and the establishment of military tribunals.
Gerth said he took the microphone and quieted the audience after the first interruption, but that Heaphy stopped speaking about three-quarters of the way through her speech after more loud heckling.
"When the university invited me to speak," Heaphy said, "I thought about what to say. I decided that the message should be one that emphasizes the need to continue to embrace the traditions of liberty that are at the core of American democracy.
Yes, they were different Universities. But what does it say about the tide of our country that students were going to be expelled for a silent simple protest of those in Power while a speaker questioning the policies of those in power is drowned out.
I find this really disturbing, especially in light of recent developments:
Scary quote from a NYTimes Op-Ed column: (searching for reference now)
It's interesting to note that the planned Department of Homeland Security, while of dubious effectiveness in its announced purpose, will be protected against future Colleen Rowleys: the new department will be exempted from both whistle-blower protection and the Freedom of Information Act.
From the Washington Post:
Prisoners declared enemy combatants do not have the right to a lawyer and the American judiciary cannot second-guess the military's classification of such detainees, the Justice Department argued yesterday in a brief to an appeals court.
This is especially silly considering that a court is very, very likely to pass a guilty plea on such people.
Might you see that I'm a little disturbed by each of these stories individually. Together, they are chilling and bring tears to my eyes.