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Free Speech Gone Wrong

August 20, 2009

I received an email last week from Betty and Boo’s Mommy. The point of the email was “shop talk,” comparing fundraising horror stories. But at the very end of the message she wrote that she was waiting for a post about the recent town hall madness that is going on around health care reform in this country. Knowing that I’ve probably organized some town hall meetings in my time, she wanted my thoughts. I’ve finally decided to attempt to organize my thoughts on this matter here.

Yes, I have organized town hall meetings in my time as a political campaign worker/community organizer (Gasp! The Horror! Did I just admit to being a ‘community organizer?’ Like the President used to be? OMG!). And they are always a little scary. See, you never know what people are going to say. And one thing I’ve learned working in political and legislative offices… you have never ‘seen it all.’ There is always someone else who is a bit louder, a bit more paranoid, a bit more gullible and scary than the last guy. I’ve seen plenty of yelling and name calling in a town hall format. The difference between those isolated incidents and what we’re seeing on the news every night now, is that what I dealt with was never sanctioned and organized by interest groups. It was just one guy, who spoke out at every public forum (which is his right). I find the idea of explaining to people how to disrupt meetings and shouting down United States Senators, Congressional Representatives and THE PRESIDENT to be above and beyond any action I’ve ever seen in one of my meetings. Not to mention that it’s just RUDE!

So all this made me think about another issue. How come George W. never dealt with this kind of craziness? Well, partly it’s because he would never dare, nor would his people ever allow him to speak in this kind of setting. Disaster. Anyway, when he did have big public events, there was a big difference between his and the ones that the President and members of Congress are holding now. They weren’t public forums. They were by invitation only, and people who did not agree with the President were excluded.

There’s a part of me that believes that all these crazies should be able to speak their minds. This is America. Free speech and all that. But now it’s getting scary.

In 2004, a couple was arrested for wearing anti-Bush T shirts to an event in West Virginia where the President was speaking.ranks

A couple of days ago, this guy was allowed to attend an Obama speech. He didn’t break any laws.


We have crossed the line from rude and ineffective, to insane and dangerous.

But, at least I have Congressman Barney Frank to put my disjointed thoughts into words for me. Check this out from a town hall he held in his district this week.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. JEC permalink
    August 20, 2009 6:23 pm

    Can’t watch the Barney F. thing here–but I think I’ve seen it. I’ll check it out at home. Yeah, what’s with the guns? There SHOULD be a law. Maybe this will shake some complacent people up and make them realize that the NRA has really crossed the line.

  2. JEC permalink
    August 21, 2009 8:35 pm

    Maybe life would be better on another planet.

  3. August 24, 2009 1:58 am

    Please keep in mind that you’re seeing all this through the camera lens of the Obama-controlled media.

    • August 24, 2009 3:34 pm

      I do believe that the media (which I wouldn’t characterize as “Obama-controlled”) is highlighting the people who are disturbing the town halls and not paying enough attention to those meetings that go smoothly, or what is actually said by reasonable people on both sides of the issue at the town halls.

      But NONE of that changes that fact that people are bringing loaded weapons to public events. I don’t believe that people should carry assault weapons anywhere, much less into crowds and where the President or other public figures are present.

  4. JEC permalink
    August 25, 2009 5:21 pm

    There’s also the Fox-and-other-conservative-controlled media. They show what they want to and interpret it as they wish. There’s no such thing as “Obama-controlled” media–the mainstream media, if you want to call it that, has plenty of criticism for Obama. I’m sure the Obama administration WISHES they could control the media–what president doesn’t?

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