So apparently three people were asked to leave a Bush town hall meeting in Denver a few weeks ago [Washington Post, try bugmenot for a free registration]. They did or said nothing disruptive, but were nonetheless “forcibly” ejected because one of them had a bumper sticker on their car that read “No Blood for Oil”. When asked about it, Press Secretary Scott McClellan said that the White House did “welcome a diversity of views at events”, but:
If they want to disrupt the event, then I think that, obviously, they’re going to be asked to leave the event. There is plenty of opportunity for them to express their views outside of events; there are protest areas.
Emphasis mine. Later in the same briefing, McClellan stated “If they’re standing up and disrupting an event, like I said, they’re going to be asked to leave.” But that’s not what he said. He said that if they want to disrupt the event, and that’s a very big distinction. If people are interrupting and disrupting and disregarding civil discourse, well, then there’s something to be said for asking them to leave. But these folks didn’t do anything. They just sat there, and they were asked to leave, because the organizers thought they were going to be disruptive. Isn’t there something in the Constitution about “innocent until proven guilty”? Did I just hallucinate that?
Also, in what way exactly does that “welcome a diversity of views”? It seems to me that when President Bush comes out to speak directly with the American people, situations somehow are arranged so that he ends up speaking only to people who already agree with him. And those aren’t conversations, but pep rallies. I think somebody at the White House needs to look up the words “welcome” and “diversity”, because they apparently don’t know what they mean.
I love my father very much, but he and I disagree on many political issues. Once, when I was complaining about this very issue, he said something to the effect of “why do I need to hear what the other side has to say if I already know what it is?”. At the time, I accepted the point, but the more I thought about it, the more troubled I got. That’s exactly the problem right now, all around the country. We as a nation don’t listen to each other (though I think Dad and I do). We get our news from different sources, sources that emphasize what we want to hear. We disregard or ignore what our opponents have to say, under the pretense that we’ve already heard it. What happened to consensus building? What happened to compromise, to finding middle ground? Why do we automatically assume that people who disagree with us are unreasonable?