We all know that, especially under the current administration, Republicans are a mite touchy when it comes to T-shirts, those notorious vehicles of seditious speech. Cindy Sheehan, as you may have heard, got bounced from her seat at the State of the Union (as a guest of Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey) for wearing such a T-shirt. Glenn Greenwald respectfully comments.
But alas, the problem with thought police is that they can get somewhat overly enthusiastic, and it can be really hard to tell which thoughts are supposed to be policed. So poor Beverly Young, wife of Republican Congressman C.W. Bill Young, also got bounced from the SOTU for wearing a T-shirt. (Via Shakespeare’s Sister.) Hers read “Support the Troops – Defending Our Freedom.”
Young said she was sitting in the gallery’s front row, about six seats from first lady Laura Bush, when she was approached by someone from the Capitol Police or sergeant-at-arms office who told her she needed to leave the gallery.
She reluctantly agreed but argued with several officers in the hallway outside the House chamber.
“They said I was protesting,” she said in a telephone interview late Tuesday. “I said, “Read my shirt, it is not a protest.’ They said, “We consider that a protest.’ I said, “Then you are an idiot.”‘
She said she was so angry that “I got real colorful with them.”
You see what all this postmodernism and irony has done? It’s become wicked difficult to tell the difference between old-fashioned support and subversive protest. Better to be rigorously fair, and stomp out all T-shirt-based speech acts.
Freedom is on the march!
Update: The Capitol Police have dropped the charges they had filed against Sheehan, and are now apologizing to both Sheehan and Young. Turns out that wearing T-shirts with slogans during the State of the Union is not, in fact, against the law! Who knew?