Politicians are stifling dissent, critics say

Knight Ridder
by Steven Thomma

02/04/06

The ejection of two women from the U.S. Capitol for wearing message T-shirts during President Bush's State of the Union speech this week was the latest incident in a growing trend of stifling dissent in politics. Capitol Police later apologized for ejecting the women from the House of Representatives gallery -- after one of them, the wife of a congressman, complained bitterly, as did her husband. The police acknowledged that they'd acted overzealously. But their actions weren't atypical in today's overheated political climate. Protesters outside political conventions are herded behind razor wire far from the action, citizens wearing a rival candidate's stickers are forcefully ejected from presidential campaign rallies on public property, and those who heckle the president or broadcast issue ads within 60 days of an election can be prosecuted. The tension between the Capitol Police and the women is symbolic of the eternal conflict between those who seek to silence dissent and those who advocate free speech. 'This is the latest manifestation of the desire by those in power to minimize criticism and marginalize critics,' said Nadine Strossen, the president of the American Civil Liberties Union. This is dissent via T-shirts...

//www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/13786401.htm


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