Thursday, March 25, 2004

You can't make up shit like this. You just can't. That's why I'm posting it it in it's entirety. Thanks to General JC Christian, Patriot for the pointer. We are indeed residing in George Bush's Bizzaro World.
Unfit discipline

Vice President Dick Cheney's wife, Lynne, came to the campus last Sunday for a C-SPAN interview with Doug Besharov of the School of Public Affairs. As the show ended, a handful of University Police officers surrounded a group of students, including myself, and threatened to arrest us. They then took down our information and informed us we would be charged under the Judicial Programs Student Code of Conduct, though they have not yet told us what specific charge(s) will be handed down. We were not, as The Diamondback erroneously reported, "forcibly removed."

It's difficult to say which is more embarrassing: that University Police, without legal justification, attempted to intimidate three students engaging in speech protected not only constitutionally but explicitly by the Student Conduct Code, or that The Diamondback failed to mention the abuse other than to write, "University Police forcibly removed three students at the end of the program after they called out several questions outside of the format, including a final question after the show ended about Cheney's openly gay daughter Mary and same-sex marriages in San Francisco." If The Diamondback won't protect free speech on campus, then who will?

Here's what happened: As the show ended, it became clear Lynne Cheney would not be asked any of the questions we had written down relating to gay marriage. Cheney, a former gay-rights activist, who is the mother of a lesbian daughter, has not taken a public position on Bush's proposed amendment. As the applause died down I asked her, "Dr. Cheney, would you attend your daughter Mary's wedding if she married a person of the same gender?" The audience, deadly silent as she stared back at me, blinking softly, waited for her response. It wouldn't come. She turned to her right and ended the program, apparently the signal for the police to descend.

Anyone who went to Howard Dean's rally here last fall will immediately recognize the double standard. There, as the future flare-out addressed his audience, a group of Young Republicans shouted and chanted at Dean, attempting to drown him out. Unlike Cheney, Dean handled the hecklers, who apparently had not thought to prepare remarks beyond an initial burst of profanity, with ease. No police officers tried to quiet the rowdy bunch, nor direct them toward Comcast Center, where their Dean critique would have blended in a little better. They were not harassed, intimidated, threatened or charged with any violations of any student codes. Yet when I direct a measured question toward Dr. Cheney during a "policy forum," I am charged with some type of violation. Harass a Democrat, fine; question a Republican, pay the price.

Two other students made comments, and both of them received similar treatment. Cheney told the audience she did not believe the mass extermination of the American Indian population from 1492 until the late 1800s could be considered genocide. It was merely a "clash of cultures" that occurred for a "brief period" and was perpetuated by "Europeans."Graduate student Michael Cawdery responded to her outrageous statement the only way a rational human being with a vague historical sense could. He said, quite properly, "Bulls---."

Later, Cheney bemoaned the evils of slavery (which was apparently ended when God-fearing Americans from the North defeated slave-holding, Indian-killing Europeans from the South), which she referred to as a "challenge overcome." Charles DeVoe asked if she supported reparations for slavery. She responded that no, she did not. For this question he is to be charged with conduct violating the student code.

Interestingly, a minor amount of research showed that we in fact were not in violation of anything. Brief "heckling" that does not drown out the speaker is specifically protected. So either the cops were misinformed, or they were engaging in willful intimidation of dissent.

By doing so, especially at an event labeled a "policy forum," the police have brought shame on to the university. This is a shame equal to that which the "Europeans" must feel for all the dastardly deeds they've committed, even for people who tell blatant lies on national television.

And for timid college newspapers who don't refute them.