By now everybody should have heard about Cindy Sheehan being forcibly removed from the visitor's gallery before the State Of The Union Address, for an alleged "demonstration." (she was wearing a t-shirt with the message "2,245 Dead. How Many More?")
What hasn't gotten *quite* as much press (but it's growing) is the fact that the wife of a sitting member of the U.S. House of Representatives was also ejected (or "left voluntarily" according to Capitol Hill Police) for ""protesting." Also because she was wearing a t-shirt. What did *her* shirt say? "Support the Troops Defending Our Freedom."
Beverly Young, wife of Rep. Charles W. Young (R - Fl) was also "asked to leave" the gallery by Capitol Hill Police Tuesday night.
According to published reports, Young, who was seated in the front row of the gallery, and about 6 seats away from First Lady Laura Bush,
“… was approached by someone who told her she needed to leave, according to the St. Petersburg Times.A spokeswoman for the Capital Police claim that Mrs. Young was not “ejected,” but that she “did leave on her own.”
After reluctantly agreeing, she said, she argued with several officers in an outside hallway."They said I was protesting," she said in a telephone interview with the newspaper Tuesday.
"I said, 'Read my shirt, it is not a protest.' They said, 'We consider that a protest.' I said, 'Then you are an idiot.'"
Rep. Young, who is elected from Florida’s 10th Congressional District, did not hear about the ejection until after President Bush’s speech. and he was not happy.
"I just called for the chief of police and asked him to get his little tail over here," Young said. "This is not acceptable."According to other published reports,
“ on Wednesday, he [Rep. Young] held up his wife's shirt on the House floor and denounced her treatment.When I first heard about Sheehan’s arrest, I was expecting to hear that she had unfurled a banner or some such, not that she was just sitting and being quiet.
"She has a real passion for our troops, and she shows it in many, many ways," Young said.
"And most members in this House know that. But because she had on a shirt that someone didn't like, that said 'Support Our Troops,' she was kicked out of this gallery while the president was speaking and encouraging Americans to support our troops. Shame. Shame."
Young and his wife are known as passionate supporters of U.S. service members. He has spoken in the past about their many visits to military hospitals during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and their efforts to ensure the needs of the wounded and their families are met.
Then when I read about the Congressman’s wife’s “incident” with Capital police, I was awestruck.
The President of the United States, the Commander In Chief of the sole remaining “superpower” on the planet, is so insecure about what people may see in juxtaposition with his image, or is so fearful of what he may see himself, that he needs to turn every space where he is into areas where no contrary view may be expressed.
As Congressman Young said in the well of the House floor, “Shame, Shame.”
UPDATE: on Wednesday, the AP is reporting that Capital police have admitted that the ejection of both women, and the arrest of Cindy Sheehan was improper.
“The officers made a good faith, but mistaken effort to enforce an old unwritten interpretation of the prohibitions about demonstrating in the Capitol,” Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer said in a statement late Wednesday.//snip//
For his part, Bill Young said he was not necessarily satisfied.
“My wife was humiliated,” he told reporters. He suggested that “sensitivity training” may be in order for Capitol Police.