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Hillary Clinton: Why pay lip service to free expression without protecting peaceful expression?

Feb 18, 2011 Hillary Clinton: Why pay lip service to free expression without protecting peaceful expression?

On February 15, 2011, Hillary Clinton gave a speech at George Washington University, touting free expression in relation to the recent wave of demonstrations in the Middle East.

Early on in her speech, and apparently within her clear earshot and eyeshot, law enforcement — apparently uniformed Secret Service members — detained and removed Ray McGovern (see the video), who apparently had been detained after standing up and turning his back to Ms. Clinton.

Ms. Clinton continued her speech, as if oblivious or uncaring about Mr. McGovern’s plight. Does her silence convey that she will not grant hecklers’ vetoes? I think not, because the disturbing (at the very least) scenario was the police reaction to Mr. McGovern and not Mr. McGovern’s protest action that preceded his arrest.

When a government official is going to praise free speech — as did Ms. Clinton this past Tuesday — the speaker best, at the very minimum, acknowledge any ejection or arrest of people exercising their free speech rights.

Let us say for arguments’ sake that in the blur of studio lights and a big audience, Ms. Clinton did not notice protestor Ray McGovern. Then, she could at least have issued a press release or statement on the State Department’s website. Neither have been done.

In fact, the State Department’s website provides the official video of Ms. Clinton’s talk, and is utterly silent on Ray McGovern.

Had she wanted, Ms. Clinton easily could have advised law enforcement people that she wanted restraint with dissenters at the talk. Unfortunately, it seems Ms. Clinton is as distant stopping crackdowns on audience dissenters as was John Kerry during the Don’t Tase Me Bro debacle (video here). Donald Rumsfeld was on the receiving end of the same Ray McGovern’s ire a few years ago, but deftly waved away any detention  (video here). Therefore, it can be done.

Unfortunately too many politicians too often are merely ignoring — and, worse, even accepting and encouraging — overbearing and sometimes downright unlawful security detail actions and goon behavior, including this clip of George Allen’s supporters tackling an admittedly obnoxious man trying to draw a foul, but still overreacting to him:

We continue seeing police manhandling of protestors and their First Amendment rights at Democrat and Republican presidential conventions, and many demonstrations in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere. 

The abuse did not end with the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. It must end now.

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