News reports are coming out this week that Democrats are trying desperately to rally the troops (so to speak) to have the kind of turnout and reaction that Republicans saw during the health care town hall protests. They’re forgetting a few things…first of all, not everything that went on at those protests was very good. Both Democrats and Republicans behaved poorly. There were plenty of disruptions and more than a few fights. Many were arrested and some even ended up in the hospital.
Yesterday, however, newly-elected Rep. Allen West of Florida – a retired Marine Lt. Colonel – held a townhall. A handful of liberals called upon by their leaders did turn out, and they tried to heckle Rep. West and disrupt the meeting. They were soundly booed, and when they were asked by police to leave, the entire crowd cheered:
The woman you see being arrested in the last half is Nicole Sandler, former Air America jockey and now a private radio-show host. She posted on her own blog. If you go to the YouTube page for the video linked above and read the comments, you see the same old, same old: profiteering is evil, he didn’t answer her question, Allen West is a thug, I don’t recall Republicans getting arrested during the health care town halls, all conservatives are Nazis and need to be run out of the country, blah, blah, blah.
Okay, liberals…let’s take another lesson in reality.
-There WERE quite a few arrests during the health care town hall meetings. Both Democrats and Republicans were arrested for assaults, destruction of property, refsuing to obey police orders, and a few other charges. Shouting matches turned into near-riot situations, including in St. Louis, where one man had his shirt ripped off and another was beaten unconscious by liberal protesters (six were arrested in those two incidents).
-Allen West is not responsible for directing law enforcement at a town hall event. He didn’t make any gestures, didn’t say anything, he didn’t argue – Nicole was removed by a police sergeant who had already removed one heckler. You can’t call him a thug unless he was personally responsible for a violent act. I’m sorry, but the only violence I saw was coming from Nicole herself.
-After the outrageous behavior that occurred during the health care town halls, police were on heightened alert to avoid the same embarrassment this time around. Anybody who was seen as a disruption would have been immediately asked to leave; part of that would have been at the direction of the owners of the property where the meeting was being held. There is nothing wrong with being asked to leave. At that point, she wasn’t being arrested.
-As the officer was escorting her from the building, she kept stopping to talk to people. That was when the officer gave her some quiet, gentle redirection. He wasn’t yelling, wasn’t saying much at all – he just put a hand on her back to let her know which direction she was supposed to be headed in. That was when she decided to escalate the situation by turning, screaming, cursing, wagging a finger in the officer’s face and making demands. You cannot do that to a police officer. By training, he sees that as aggression and will immediately arrest you.
-The officer still didn’t yell. He quietly said what was going to happen, told her what she was being arrested for, and ended up with people STILL disobeying his orders. Nicole was trying to do things she wasn’t allowed to do (give her belongings to another person, insinuating that the officer would erase footage on her camera), and her friends were refusing to back away – they kept trying to step in, kept asking why she was being arrested, and only barely complied when asked to back away.
-AT NO POINT DID ANY PERSON INFRINGE ON NICOLE SANDLER’S RIGHTS. She was not being told that she couldn’t speak her mind freely. She was simply being asked to do so elsewhere. If she’d wanted to stand on the corner outside the event and scream at people as they left, as long as she kept her distance and didn’t get into a fight, she would have been allowed to do it. She could have quietly left, written a letter to Rep. West, and if she didn’t get a response the way she wanted, she could have vented in any forum she wanted as long as her speech didn’t include death threats.
Nicole Sandler was not arrested for her political speech; she was asked to leave because of her behavior, and later arrested when she deliberately escalated that behavior. You cannot behave any which way you like and expect that it will be protected. When you attend a certain event, there will be a format and rules. Fail to obey them and you can be asked to leave. There’s nothing Unconstitutional about it. All of the claims of Nazism, thuggery and infringement of rights? I will again refer you to my post about Nazis being left-wing.
My favorite part of the whole thing? It was when Allen West quietly listened to her yell, gave her some wiggle room, and finally said, “I will not be intimidated.” I like Allen West. When is he gonna run for the Presidency?