BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
have crossed over into the first stage of a dictatorship when American
citizens can no longer exercise their First Amendment rights in the presence
of an unelected president who, by his own admission, prefers dictatorships
the weekend, BuzzFlash headlined several stories about Ohio State University
graduates who were threatened with expulsion and arrest if they even silently
protested Bush, by turning their backs to him, during their commencement
ran this main headline:
STATE GRADUATES WERE THREATENED WITH ARREST AND EXPULSION IF THEY PROTESTED
BUSH'S SPEECH. (READ TO BOTTOM OF STORY). THEY WERE "URGED"
TO GIVE HIM A 'THUNDEROUS OVATION'"
included a first hand account:
also included the Ohio State University ad hoc site that organized the
protest crushed by a regime that has thrown the First Amendment out of
the Constitution when the dimwitted prince makes a royal appearance:
hardly the first such incident of trampling on the First Amendment by
the Bush royalists. For instance, in June of 2001, three people (two senior
citizens and a gay man) were arrested for merely holding signs at a public
event for Bush:
to June 6, 2001, excerpts from the St. Petersburg Times Archives:
protesters say rights were muzzled
Petersburg Times; St. Petersburg, Fla.; Jun 6, 2001; CHRISTOPHER GOFFARD;
crowd at Legends Field jostled them, hurled invective, grabbed their
signs from their hands and even threw punches, the protesters say. Security
officers saw the disturbance and gave the protesters a choice: Give
up the signs or leave.
protesters say the police response muzzled their First Amendment rights.
But a Secret Service spokesman called the rally "essentially a
private function" that required a ticket for entrance, comparing
Legends Field to a church rented for a wedding.
Hughes] said the police were merely responding to a request from Legends
Field security to help remove the protesters. "It appears the signs
they were carrying were causing a disturbance with the crowd. It was
inciting the crowd," Hughes said. "We showed tremendous restraint."
call at Legends Series: Excerpt from an Editorial
Petersburg Times; St. Petersburg, Fla.; Jun 8, 2001;
Tampa Police Department shares blame for this outrage. Spokeswoman Katie
Hughes couldn't even get her story straight. Initially, she said the
police were acting on instructions from the Secret Service that signs
critical of the president were a security risk. But the Secret Service
denied issuing such a policy. Gregory Mertz, the special agent in charge
of the Secret Service office in Tampa, told St. Petersburg Times staff
writer Christopher Goffard that holding up a sign regardless of its
content is an individual right. Hughes then backtracked, saying the
police department's actions against protesters were on instructions
from Legends Field security.
Bush's rally at Tampa's Legends Field on Monday was more than just another
tightly scripted political event to promote his tax-cut plan. It also
turned into a cowardly exercise in suppressing legitimate protest.
event was advertised as being open to the public, but only Bush boosters
were welcome. No one who publicly opposed the president's tax cuts,
his environmentally risky energy policy or his national missile defense
shield was allowed to enter the stadium, even if they were holding a
ticket. Those presidential critics who were somehow able to slide past
security were jostled and denounced by the crowd for holding signs that
read "Florida Votergate" and "June is Gay Pride Month."
The resulting disturbance led to the arrests of the men and women who
refused to give up their signs.
Secret Service spokesman, who insisted that his agency wasn't involved
in removing any of the protesters, said rally organizers were within
their rights to exclude whomever they wanted because the function was
private. If this had been a truly private event, the agent would have
been correct. Constitutionally, sponsors of a private event can screen
the audience as long as they don't discriminate against a protected
White House spokesperson Jeanie Mano said "this was a governmental,
presidential event." White House staff participated in organizing
the rally, along with local supporters and the hosts of Legends Field,
a publicly financed stadium. Public employees helped pull together a
rally at which the public at large was invited to hear the president.
Although Mano also said the event was called "private" by
the Secret Service, it had a distinctly public character. It was partly
paid for with tax dollars and should have been an event at which all
points of view regarding the president's agenda were welcome. A "First
Amendment zone" set up by organizers and situated one-third of
a mile away from the stadium entrance was not even close to acceptable.
All of the United States is a First Amendment zone.
just one more recent example of the creeping dictatorship, with the recent
Unbelievable Anti-Democracy Actions from the Bush Administration: People
Should Not be Allowed to Go to the Courts to Challenge the Bush Administration
on Censorship Issues 6/15"
have hesitated until recently to use words like dictatorship and fascism
in relation to the Bush administration. But the signs are now too telling.
this recent headline we posted about the Chief of our Supreme Court:
"IN TIME OF WAR, THE LAWS ARE SILENT." BE AFRAID, BE VERY
this time of darkest need for the great gift of American democracy, who
still stand up to the tyrants that chip away daily at our precious liberties?
Democrat will stop looking at the polls and start taking pity upon the
Statue of Liberty who weeps in fear for what the future holds? Which Democrat
will stop worrying about election 2002 and start fighting for our Constitutional
still we await a savior for democracy.
Note: We add this letter from a BuzzFlash reader.
don't know if this is the right address to contact, but I thought I'd
give it a shot. After reading the accounts of this weekends OSU commencement,
I realized I needed to start doing something.
can be silent no more!
can be silent no more. I cannot sit idly by and watch our civil liberties
be stripped away. I will no longer tolerate the shredding of the United
States Constitution by our government. But most of all, I will no longer
dishonor those who came before us. The brave men and women who fought
and died to safeguard our freedoms, those ideals and beliefs that made
this country great, deserve that much.
the last few months, my anger and disbelief have been growing. The Bush
administration has waged an all out war on civil liberties, the environment,
and the geopolitical community at large. These actions have been carried
out under the guise of 'patriotism' and 'the war on terror'. The American
public has blindly accepted these actions without question, afraid of
the recriminations of speaking out.
June 14th, President Bush gave the commencement address at Ohio State
University. Graduates and alumni planned a non-violent protest called
"Turn Your Back on Bush". The simple premise of this peaceful
protest was that as the President spoke, those participating would stand
and turn away. This simple protest was legal and protected by the First
Amendment guarantees of free speech and peaceable assembly. However,
the administration at OSU saw it differently. Prior to the ceremonies,
an announcement was made. In this announcement it was said that "Please
make sure you stand and loudly cheer our President. Our graduates have
been requested to do the same, and have agreed to give a loud cheer
for Mr. Bush. Also anyone involved in the protest would be arrested
and expelled." According to first hand accounts, expulsion meant
that those graduates who protested would be refused their diplomas and
not allowed to graduate.
became more and more upset as I read the first hand account of the events.
As this person stood to turn her back, she was led out of the stadium
by a Columbus police officer with her three-year-old daughter in her
arms. She was told that if she left, the charge of disturbing the peace
would be dropped.
is not the first time that the voices of opposition have been intimidated
into silence by this administration. A fact not reported in the mainstream
media is the presence of "First Amendment Zones" wherever
the President speaks. These are areas where dissenters are herded, usually
far away and invisible to the President, and more importantly, the media
covering the event. To call these areas "First Amendment Zones"
is an affront to everything the First Amendment stands for.
urge my fellow citizens to speak out against the growing tyranny and
oppression in America. I urge you to read the foreign press to see how
the world views the United States and learn what is not being reported
by the American media. I urge you to get involved, write your congressmen,
write the papers, call the radio talk shows, and most importantly, exercise
your right to vote.
of you may say, "Who does this guy think he is?" Let me tell
you who I am. I am a father, a son, a brother, and an uncle. I am a
proud veteran of the US Navy. But most of all, I am an American citizen,
and I will be silent no more.