Part 2 Shouting Down a Tyrant/Free Speech Rights?
In my last post, I talked about Wenyi Wang and her interruption of the speech by Chinese President Hu Jintao. Now to be perfectly honest I think she broke the law as written:
Secret Service spokesman Jim Mackin said she had been charged with disorderly conduct and that a charge of intimidating or disrupting foreign officials also was being considered.
And for the exact text from Free Speech Outrage:
Disorderly conduct is a local offense and not to big of a deal, but from what we could gather. The more serious federal charge of intimidating a foreign official -- which you can find here in Title 18, Section 112(b) of the U.S. Code -- is rare.
Yes it is rare since the secret service controls every aspect of visits, but it is not so "rare" that I have not heard of it. The US wanted guests to feel welcome here and since we have the UN buildings here we have officials from every country come here.
(2) attempts to intimidate, coerce, threaten, or harass a foreign official or an official guest or obstruct a foreign official in the performance of his duties; or
(3) within the United States and within one hundred feet of any building or premises in whole or in part owned, used, or occupied for official business or for diplomatic, consular, or residential purposes by -
(C) a foreign official; or
(D) an official guest;
I am not sure you could say it was intimidation but harrassment could easily be concluded from the actions.
And of course I am a defender of free speech and actually appreciate her willingness to speak out against a tyrant. She has actually shed some light on the plight of the Falun Gong situation.
Now let look at other situations where speakers have had to deal with shouters and hecklers in the crowd up to including violence on the speakers.
Conservative Author Is Attacked With Pies ( Ann Coulter)
Leftist Hatred Behind Pie-Throwing Thugs
It has not escalated like David Horowitz stated. But does show that people somehow think it is fair game to attack not only with words but actions against ideas and people they don't like. This article included: William Kristol attacked with a pie, Pat Buchanan face was covered with salad dressing, and Ann Coulter's attacks with pies.
Democrats: Racism Against Black Republicans Is Okay
Now some have questioned whether this actually happened and whether the cookies were thrown or just landed but it still remains that Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele said that he did see Oreo Cookies being thrown at him but not sure if any hit him.
And there were cases of the President and Dick Cheney being booed. I did not see any one on the left get heckled and booed at except Hillary Clinton (most from FreeRepublic):
[Anti-war] Hecklers interrupt Sen. Clinton at Brown University
PROVIDENCE, R.I. --Anti-war protesters interrupted U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's speech at Brown University on Saturday night by heckling the New York Democrat for four solid minutes before police escorted them out of the auditorium.
Clinton was about eight minutes into her 50-minute speech, "Women Leaders," when an unidentified man stood and shouted "Is it leadership to support the war?"
He was quickly joined by two other hecklers as he stood on his seat and continued to criticize Clinton for her vote to authorize the U.S. invasion of Iraq and her subsequent votes to fund the war. Boston Globe
Hillary: I've Gotten Used to Being Booed
My question is why should she have to get use to being booed?
And this is funny:
"Booing" of Hillary Clinton Electronically Transformed into "Applause" for TV Viewers!
Stossel explained: “Last fall Paul McCartney headlined a concert to benefit victims of September 11th. Some politicians appeared, including Senator Hillary Clinton.” Over the booing of Senator Clinton as she walked on stage and waved, Stossel noted: “And people in the audience booed her. Booed and heckled.”
Stossel told viewers: “But then MTV's channel VH1 re-ran the same concert and made it into a DVD.” As 20/20 showed the same scene again, but this time VH1's new version with applause, Stossel pointed out: “Notice a difference? The booing has been removed. Now and forever on the DVD the crowd applauds Senator Clinton.”
If this had been done for a Republican, can you imagine how much outrage this would have been? They would have been reviving every crackpot theory of Machiavelli or part of a vast right wing conspiracy!
Like usual I have included more information in the process of coming to a point than I wanted.
But in conclusion I don't think that any of these interruptions are examples of free speech. I think there are plenty of chances to have your voice heard, but screaming or taking actions against an invited lecturer is not only of bad manners but should be punished. In essence when a podium is set up, it conveys that that person has the con (control of the direction of the conversation). By letting everyone talk at once only tries to drown out the original message. But the one axiom I believe is that "the antidote for speech you don't like is more speech not less". This meaning that the people that want to shout over the speaker need to find other avenues to express themselves. And in the case of all domestic speakers there are plenty of ways to show to the speaker your displeasure, without resorting to shouting and interrupting the speech.
And now back to Wang. Yes I still believe she broke the law, but I hope that someone along the way will let her off with no punishment. It is not like she can go to China and express her feelings there. And even if she does go to trial and prison, at least she then has a platform to express what is going on in China.
P.S.: No Banquet for Hu
But while Singh got a dinner banquet, Hu was offered only lunch, to the irritation of the Chinese. While this protocol difference was clearly a planned one, the protest by a Chinese woman produced an unexpected complication at Hu’s reception.
As Hu began to speak, the woman, who managed to get into the camera stand for the media directly facing the two leaders, began shouting.
It sounds like petty jealousy, but it is what other countries are saying.
And the article goes on to explain the FalunGong and the Tibetans protests.
And from Taipei Times/White House bans foreign press during Bush-Hu talks
Not only has Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) refused to hold a joint press conference with US President George W. Bush during his visit to the US, but the US has banned members of the foreign press from reporting from inside the White House.
The official also said that such restrictions would apply to other foreign correspondents besides the Taiwanese press. Currently, very few foreign correspondents have White House press clearance due to strict vetting.
No Taiwanese correspondents possess White House clearance, and in the past all have had to pre-register and provide authorities with their passports, Social Security numbers and other personal information, before being allowed to enter the White House.
According to the new regulations as stated by the NSC, all Taiwanese press members who are not US citizens will be excluded from reporting from the White House, effective immediately.
Misc. Links of Note:
China's Hu Comes to America
APOLOGIZE TO HU? WHY?
Why Wang Wenyi Was Shouting