March 30, 2005

The Right to Remain Silent

As you have heard elsewhere, George Bush has been touring the country preaching the benefits of his Social Security privatization scheme to carefully pre-screened [audio link] audiences of already converted supporters. The idea is to generate positive spill-over coverage in local press, which will supplement the various fake news reports the administration has been developing and distributing.

This undeniably tenacious sell job must not be fooling enough of the people enough of the time, however, because the administration is trying new tactics. At a privatization rally with Bush on Monday, three attendees were forcibly ejected — just because they arrived in a friend’s car which bore an anti-war bumper sticker.

"They hadn't done anything wrong. They weren't dressed inappropriately, they didn't say anything inappropriate," [their lawyer Dan] Recht said. "They were kicked out of this venue and not allowed to hear what the president had to say based solely on this political bumper sticker.

I can’t wait to hear how White House Press Secretary Scott McClellen explains this one. But whatever he says can’t be more jarring than hearing about these expulsions on the same day that Bush declared,

Freedom is on the march. Freedom is the birthright and deep desire of every human soul, and spreading freedom's blessings is the calling of our time.

I guess he wasn’t thinking about freedom of speech.

The fictional character Winston Smith wrote, “Freedom is the freedom to say two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.” Conversely, if that freedom is denied it means that others are endangered, so it’s not a good sign if anyone willing to question the President’s fuzzy math on privatization is shut up.

Come to think of it, I can try to predict Mr. McClellan’s response at the next press briefing. “Some people may have forgotten that everything changed on September 11th,” he will say. “And you still have the right to remain silent!”

By Will Friedman in Politics, Social Security | Permalink  | 


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