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Austin Cline

T-Shirt Police At Bush Speech

By October 18, 2004

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No, this isn't a repeated story. A couple back in July were ticketed for trespassing merely because they wore anti-Bush t-shirts at a Bush speech that was paid for by government funds. It wasn't an isolated incident: three teachers were removed from a Bush speech for wearing "Protect Our Civil Liberties" on their shirts.

Bend.com News reports:

The women were ticketed to the event, admitted into the event, and were then approached by event officials before the president’s speech. They were asked to leave and to turn over their tickets – two of the three tickets were seized, but the third was saved when one of the teachers put it underneath an article of clothing.
The women said they did not intend to protest. "I wanted to see if I would be able to make a statement that I feel is important, but not offensive, in a rally for my president," said Janet Voorhies, 48, a teacher in training. “We chose this phrase specifically because we didn't think it would be offensive or degrading or obscene," said Tania Tong, 34, a special education teacher.

It should be noted that the shirts expressed what should be regarded as a politically neutral message. It's not as though the message was "Impeach Bush" or something similar (not that expelling the women would be appropriate even then). The news report explains that this sets a new low, even for the Bush administration:

When Vice President Dick Cheney visited Eugene, Oregon on Sept. 17, a 54-Year old woman named Perry Patterson was charged with criminal trespass for blurting the word "No" when Cheney said that George W. Bush has made the world safer. One day before, Sue Niederer, 55, the mother of a slain American soldier in Iraq was cuffed and arrested for criminal trespass when she interrupted a Laura Bush speech in New Jersey. Both women had tickets to the event.

It's because of incidents like these that the notion of protecting our civil liberties is so important. Apparently, though, that's not a message that the Bush administration wants to be spread too far lest people begin to think that it's an idea worth working for.

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