Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Fascism arrives

As everybody knows by now, Cindy Sheehan was arrested yesterday after being told by Capitol Police that she couldn't wear an anti-war t-shirt inside the House gallery during the President's State of the Union address.

According to this AP story, the wife of a Republican Representative from Florida was also removed from the chamber for wearing a "support the troops" t-shirt. The article also says that charges against Sheehan have been dropped and that the Capitol cops apologized to her. Fine. Whatever.

Sheehan was a guest of California Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, who is quoted in the above-linked San Francisco Chronicle story as saying, "It stunned me because I didn't know in America you could be arrested for wearing a T-shirt with a slogan on it...That's especially so in the Capitol and in the House of Representatives, which is the people's House." Well, according to the AP article:
The two women appeared to have offended tradition as much as the law, according to several law enforcement and congressional officials. By custom, the annual address is to be a dignified affair in which the president reports on the state of the nation. Guests in the gallery who wear shirts deemed political in nature have, in past years, been asked to change or cover them up.

Generally, the House's sergeant at arms sets out rules at the House speaker's direction. The Capitol Police enforce them and the Secret Service evaluates any threat to the president.

Rules dealing mainly with what people can bring and telling them to refrain from reading, writing, smoking, eating, drinking, applauding or taking photographs are outlined on the back of gallery passes given to tourists every day.
A spokesperson for the Capitol Police said that there were no such guidelines issued to SotU guests, so that may be where the whole hullabaloo came from.

Anyway, the stupidest part of this whole story is brought to you courtesy of Rep. Pete Stark, a Democrat (of course) from Fremont, CA. Stark is quoted thusly in the Chronicle:
"I'm still trying to find out why the president's Gestapo had to arrest Cindy Sheehan in the gallery. ... It shows he still has a thin skin."
The millions of people who were shot, beaten or worked to death, or herded into gas chambers after being arrested by the actual Gestapo between 1933 and 1945 were, apparently, unavailable for comment.

(Chronicle link via protein wisdom)

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