Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Whatever you do, don't shoot the streaker

It's a free country. How many times in your life have you heard that chestnut in response to someone being told to "shut up."

Well, it is a free country, and free speech is a vanguard of freedom which even the most jaded of politicians, the decider himself, brags on it when he's talking about countries where free speech is not available.

It strikes me odd that free speech is not valued in the chambers of congress.

When protesters stood and shouted to denounce the pre-determined report by General Petraeus, they were, as expected, escorted from chambers.

But two things shocked me. One, chairman Ike Skelton, was bullied by Republican colleagues into removing an entire group of "potential" protesters. These were people who looked like they might protest. Before they had done anything, he made sure the room was empty of these potential "troublemakers" (though all protesters weren't as obvious as the laudable Code Pink group, because some continued to pop up). Then he announced the protesters would be prosecuted under DC criminal code.

We had to listen to the laughable, and totally political statements by dozens of lawmakers, but were not allowed to hear the laudable railings of the real opposition, the real public. On C-SPAN, the cameras never focused on the protesters, though some of their audio leaked through. What's worse, when listening to the hearings on NPR, the announcer spoke over the protests, in much the same way as the announcers at a baseball game talk in a way to distract the audience from a streaker on the field. What's with NPR, the protesters were a legitimate part of the event.

One of those ejected protesters, was thrown out for wondering aloud about something that occured to me too. Why weren't Petraeus and Crocker put under oath?

The highpoint of a very discouraging day for me was Rep. Robert Wexler's questioning of the two.

Testimony continues today.

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