Wednesday, July 05, 2006

When is dissent okay and when is it not?

We have spent the last several days celebrating Independence Day and celebrating our freedoms. One of those freedoms we celebrated is our "free speech".

One of the greatest things about being an American is our freedom to completely disagree with our elected officials and we have the right to tell them that we disagree with them.

On July 4th, I spent the morning walking with Congressman Paul Ryan in downtown Racine. As expected, there were dissenters in the crowd. There were also supporters in the crowd. All are perfectly welcome at a parade.

As we walked thru the parade, I was struck by several different sets of dissenters and how each group handled their disagreements with the Congressman.

As we walked past the first group of dissenters, they began chanting "Out of Iraq, now". I believe they chanted this two or three times in a row. The Congressman turned and smiled at them and wished them a "Happy 4th of July". Some in the crowd actually looked startled at the reaction from the Congressmen. Several even smiled and waved back. This type of dissent is perfectly acceptable. The crowd had something to say and they wanted to make sure that the Congressmen heard them. The Congressmen in turn, acknowledged he heard them.

Next we passed a home on Main Street that is famous for it's Democrats. Every year, the Congressman passes this house and they boo and hiss. The Congressman just smiles and waves to them. They smile and wave back. They know he is coming and he knowsthey will be at the parade every year. Once again, this is a perfectly reasonable way to dissent. They want the Congressman to hear them and he acknowledges that he did indeed hear them.

As we continued along the parade route, many folks were cheering and some were not. Out of the crowd stepped this very large angry man. Probably 6'4”, 275 lbs, who was hot under the collar. He ran towards the Congressman shouting- "Because of your vote, 2500 soldiers have died!” The Congressman stepped towards him and stuck out hand to shake hands with this man. The guy waved him off and continued to shout at the top of his lungs- "How many more soldiers have to die because of your vote? When are you going to get us out of Iraq?" The Congressmen and all of us walking with him just tried to hustle away, hoping this guy would stop screaming. Instead this guy started following us up the street screaming at the top of his lungs- "2500 soldiers died because of your vote!"

It was horrifying; we absolutely could not get away from him. For 10 minutes this guy followed us up the street screaming. All the while this was happening; the Congressman is pushing his three year old son in a stroller. Every couple of moments the Congressman would say "Thank you, sir, I heard you." Still nothing would silence this guy. All of us walking with the Congressman kept looking to see what we could do to help. I looked at the Congressman's son and he seemed perfectly content to just stare at this guy and chomp on his sippy cup.

Some in the crowd realized how obnoxious this guy was and started cheering as loud as they could for the Congressman. They were saying- "You’re doing a great job, Congressman." It was like they were trying to help the Congressman out by cheering for him. Instead the angry man just started screaming over the cheering crowd.

We could not find the police or the parade authorities anywhere. The entire parade route was covered with police and parade authorities except for this particular area we were walking down. It was unbelievable.

There was a particular ex-Marine walking with the Congressman that had finally hit her limit. If no one else was going to stop this guy, she was going to. She kept looking at the Congressman, like the rest of us, waiting for a signal that he had enough also. We never got a signal. The Congressman continued to be patient with this man, no matter how often he accused the Congressman of killing 2500 soldiers.

Gratefully, I saw someone step out the crowd and start running down the street towards us. He finally got to us and stepped in front of the angry man and stopped him from going any further.

This is not dissent. This type of behavior out of this angry man had completely crossed the line. I know the Cindy Sheehan types believe that their poor behavior is acceptable. But is it really?

When does angry dissent turn into a dangerous situation for all those involved? The Congressman was pushing his three year old son down a parade route, for Pete's sake. Parades are supposed to be fun. This was not the time or the place to show his hatred for the war and all those who voted for it.

This particular July 4th parade was a time to celebrate our freedoms. However, some folks take their right to free speech and create a dangerous situation.

This type of behavior out of the anti-war types has got to stop. It is one thing to respectfully dissent, it is another thing all together to create a dangerous, threatening situation.

Some folks in Racine understood this, some folks did not.


Kate said...

This type of thing just makes me feel like crying. That someone could be so full of hatred that they wouldn't even notice, or care about a small child in the mix, is just unbelievable. I agree, this sort of behavior isn't dissent. More like flat out lunacy. And a few other words I'll refrain from using. I won't even mention the lack of respect... that goes without saying.

Peter said...

This ia a moonbat with a full-blown case of Bush Derangement Syndrome.

condiforprez said...

This incident just shows what a good man Paul Ryan is.

Jim Smith said...

Kudos to Congressman Ryan for handling this distraught voter perfectly. I would have given him a card and asked him to call for an appointment so that he could meet with someone fromt he campaign to discuss his concerns in a proper venue. It would have had the effect of silencing the gentleman, thus defusing the situation. Oh, and by they way, he probably would not have called for the appointment, but even if he did, it would be a positive PR moment, and perhaps a quiet moment to explain to the gentleman that Congressman Ryan is only one out of 435 members of the House of Representatives, and 295 other Representatives voted yes as well (many of whom were Democrats), and that the Congressman did not cast a yes vote without carefully considering it first. Too bad here in Milwaukee, we are represented by Gwen Moore. A person of character like Congressman Ryan is a rare find in this area of the state.