United States sets another glorious example for free expression

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A Falun Gong protester who briefly interrupted Chinese President Hu Jintao's welcoming speech will be charged with speechcrime disorderly conduct and "intimidating" a foreign official. President Bush has apologized to Hu (whom?) for the incident. "He just said this was unfortunate and I'm sorry it happened," Dennis Wilder, acting senior director for Asian affairs on the National Security Council staff, tells AP.

Happy ending watch: Hu "was gracious in accepting Bush's apology," Wilder said.

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  1. What the fuck is Bush apologising for? He should be telling Hu, “well, you see, we actually foster that sort of lively input from our citizens.”

    Oh, wait, I forgot this administration doesn’t.

  2. What happened to the 1st Amendment? Is this a case of Free trade>Free Speech

  3. At least the protestor was only a Falun Gong member with a Han name. If she was from Xinjiang Province she’d be in Gitmo right now.

    And how the hell is “intimidating a foreign official” a crime? I can see the arguments in favor of a disorderly conduct charge, even if I’d favor being sparing with such charges. But “intimidating a foreign official”, at least if it only involves heckling, shouldn’t be illegal. Sure, there are a lot of things that shouldn’t be illegal but are. But I guess I have this strange notion that political freedom should be particularly important in an alleged Republic that talks a lot about the importance of spreading freedom around the world.

  4. This president of China… wasn’t he the bad guy in one of the Rush Hour movies?

    Anyway, if he’s so easily intimidated, well, China’s probably not the big threat it’s been made out to be. That’s good news.

  5. Doesn’t the new edition of Reason have that picture of the President, like a prom date, holding hands with that vicious, Saudi dictator? …after that, it doesn’t really surprise me to see him wipe his ass with the Bill of Rights and blow the Emperor of China. …He promised to uphold the Constitution–not the Bill of Rights! But you’ve gotta keep this in perspective–part of the President’s job is preparing the American people for full engagment with the rest of the world. …Mark my words, the next time he sees him, I bet the President grabs his ankles for the Tsar!

  6. The more important question is, how much extra did Bush have to pay for the happy ending?

  7. Sandy wins the award for best post!

  8. You know, I wish it was something other than a weird cult that was carrying the torch of resistance in China.

    Of course I’m outraged here, but a little half-heartedly. Like when Scientologists complain about religious discrimination in Russia.

  9. I’m seeing in the media that the ‘heckler’ got into the event with a press pass because she worked for a pro-Falun Gong newspaper in NYC — two questions come to mind is this is true:

    1) If she can get a press pass [snip]?

    2)If she can get a press pass, why can’t Reason’s DC troopers and they can heckle the two terrorists on stage in order to get more subs to Reason? And in english…

  10. I was in China last year and my Chinese guide wouldn’t even say “Falun Gong” aloud. We were near Tiananmen Square at the time, maybe that had something to do with it; supposedly lots of secret police around there.

  11. Yeah, Joe, it’s a shame. It’s much better when it’s only the nice dignified people that we like asking for freedom to practice their religion and not be subject to intense state-run persecution.

    The conduct of Bush and the Secret Service here was appalling, but it’s exactly what one would expect from someone without the slightest shred of respect for the principles of free expression and political dissent. This is the same administration that had people escorted out of speeches for displaying on their vehicles symbols of the opposition party, or asked attendees to sign loyalty pledges.

  12. Spur: that was definitely snip-worthy. I imagine the Secret Service will be knocking on your door any minute now.

    What was your address again?

  13. 1. spur, threats, real or implied, against any public or private figures are not allowed.

    2. She had a pass from the Epoch Times, which is a legitimate paper that publishes regularly (once a week, I think). I’ve read it many times.

    3. Before the inevitable objections start showing up, let me say I agree that a heckler should be removed from a gathering like this (public figures have a right to speak, etc). She just shouldn’t have been charged with a crime; and a president with balls would have turned the moment into a kitchen debate-style lecture on the importance of free expression.

  14. Agreed, it’s appropriate for her to be removed. Filing charges, however, is crass. Expressing groveling apologies to the President of China that someone dared say a negative thing about his country’s poor human rights policies is really the low point of the story, though.

  15. Yeah, yeah, on one hand it is lame that she got charged with a crime for heckling the Chinese president. They should have through her out, and that would be that.

    On the other hand, CANT WE MAKE FRIENDS WITH A COUNTRY FOR ONCE, GODDAMIT! Serously, I know China ain’t the most free place and all, but do we have to play the self-rightous indignation trip forever. Is it so wrong to treat a foriegn leader with respect and dignity once in a while?

  16. It’s seems like nowadays disorderly conduct is being used as a grab-all to clamp down on all sorts of un-popular or embarassing protests. Check out a similar story featuring none other than Cindy Sheehan and her brigade of 90 year old radicals.

    From the BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4928436.stm.
    A group of women who call themselves the “Granny Peace Brigade” have gone on trial in New York for their protest against the Iraq war.
    The women, aged between 50 and 91, were charged with disorderly conduct after demonstrating outside a military recruitment centre.

  17. What Tim said. Also, if this ridiculous “intimidating a foreign official” is equivalent to threatening a foreign official, then the infraction should be so named. Is the threshold for this infraction any easier to breach when the object is an official, foreign or domestic, than it is when anyone else is the object? Cuz it most certainly shouldn’t be.

  18. Hu is a brutal dictator who deserves only derision. Bush once again demonstrates that he is bereft of principle.

    So did this good woman actually threaten the thug?

  19. Hu’s stopping by my workplace Friday. I’m sure there would be protests, if they hadn’t closed off several blocks around the building he’s going to be in.

    Then again, maybe not. Lots of students from the PRC there.

  20. If only we could be confident that our china policy is a planned “embrace trade, in hopes that political/religious freedom increases” and not “you have lots of customers we want, would you like me to be your bitch?”

    Because Bush is doing a pretty good imitation of a lap dog. Apologizing for that? Jeez-us. That’s humiliating.

    Too bad we’re not taking more of this approach

  21. You know, I wish it was something other than a weird cult that was carrying the torch of resistance in China.

    You know, I bet a lot of people said the same about the Catholic Church and Solidarity in Poland. In a totalitarian society, it’s often religious groups who have the most passionate and dedicated networks of supporters.

  22. Thanks for the “kitchen debate” link Tim. Nixon handed Khrushchev his ass on a plater, repeatedly!

    Damn, I almost have a new found respect for the guy.

  23. I disagree with removing hecklers. If public officials want to show up somewhere and spew their propaganda, they have to be subject to public rebuttal. Who the fuck are they that they don’t have to answer to us?

    Why should they enjoy immunity in controlling every aspect of the presentation of their policies? If they’re that unsure their bullshit won’t hold up in the face of heckling, then they should stay the fuck off the television. If they can’t answer their critics, then they should shut the fuck up and resign. If they know what they’re talking about, have thought it through, and are in full possession and command of all the relevant facts, policy, and controlling law, then resonding to hecklers is a simple matter and only makes their point look better.

    It’s when they AREN’T clear as to what they’re saying that hecklers are problematic. For that reason, spontaneous, extemporanous debate anytime, any where, serves as a critical check on political propagandizing, that would otherwise enjoy a period of unopposed, and often undeserved, validity, by virtue of the mere fact that nobody was on here to rebut it at the time it was presented.

  24. … damn.. that should say, “on HAND to rebut”…

    /wipes foam from mouth

  25. On the other hand, CANT WE MAKE FRIENDS WITH A COUNTRY FOR ONCE, GODDAMIT! Serously, I know China ain’t the most free place and all, but do we have to play the self-rightous indignation trip forever. Is it so wrong to treat a foriegn leader with respect and dignity once in a while?

    There’s probably no way to show the people of certain countries greater respect than to treat their leaders with all the dignity and honor our own leaders are entitled to as elected officials. …by which I mean none whatsoever.

    We have a diplomatic corp., and we have protocol. …and the appropriate officials give foreign dignitaries the appropriate honors at the appropriate times. The rest of us should feel free to thumb our noses at foreign dignitaries whenever any one of us thinks it’s appropriate.

    I think Tim’s right–the Emperor of China’s right to free speech should be protected too. …doing so to the exclusion of this woman’s rights, however, seems especially distateful.

    Just before the outburst, President Bush said the following:

    “As the relationship between our two nations grows and matures, we can be candid about our disagreements. I’ll continue to discuss with President Hu the importance of respecting human rights and freedoms of the Chinese people. China has become successful because the Chinese people are experience the freedom to buy, and to sell, and to produce — and China can grow even more successful by allowing the Chinese people the freedom to assemble, to speak freely, and to worship.”

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/04/20060420.html

    For speaking freely, agents of the U.S. government dragged this woman away and charged her with a crime.

  26. Does anyone else’s heart sink when they see another hippy protesting?

    I throw chicken wings at the TV screen everytime some crusty swampdonkey (whose only means of income is juggling at state fairs for $3 an hour – thanks for contributing to the economy numbnuts) starts moaning about trees or organic food or human rights.

    Protesting is just so crap. It doesn’t work. What was this woman thinking? That President Hu was going to say ‘hey, you know something, maybe she’s right….’

    Of course,I know I know, free speech is sacracant….

    I think I’m a bad person for wanting these people to SHUT THE HELL UP…

  27. Deus,

    That didn’t happen in Poland, because in that country, and around the world, the Catholic Church is taken seriously. Polish officials knew that pointing out the Catholicism of the protesters would have served only to boost their standing.

    That’s really not the way it is with Falun Gong, or the Scientologists. Not good poster boys at all.

  28. So heckling a foreign official is a crime now, is it? I guess heckling a home-grown official will be a crime next week.

    At least the protestor was only a Falun Gong member with a Han name. If she was from Xinjiang Province she’d be in Gitmo right now.

    What makes you so sure she isn’t on her way there? The fact that she doesn’t have an Arab or Uighur name doesn’t mean she can’t be an unlawful combatant. And if I were Bush, I wouldn’t want to risk taking my chances on her conviction by a D.C. jury.

  29. Did everyone notice too how the newspaper and radio accounts of this went out of their way to assure their readers and listeners that the subject never came up again in the 4 hours or whatever that Bush and Hu met?

    I know they’re just reporting, and maybe they don’t realize they’re lapdogs, but they’re lapdogs. They throw hissy fits when Bush doesn’t tell them that Cheney shot a friend on a private hunting excursion in someone’s stocked quail ranch, but they dutifully report, as if it’s even a good thing, that the subject of human rights never came up again.

    Phew!

  30. This is the kind of thing that people should be out protesting. Let the woman go, for God’s sake. Taking her away was fine, but prosecuting her is ridiculous, and it’s an abuse of power (I doubt seriously the “intimidating a foreign official” crime extends to forbidding speech that might offend that official. Since such a law would be facially unconstitutional and everything).

  31. In dealing with China, there is plenty of hypocrisy to spread around.

    We all know the hypocrisy of the Left, who looked at China with misty eyes, and would not look at its abysmal human rights record.

    But now China is doing business with the US and too many capitalists are making big bucks dealing with it, so guess who is now practicing hypocrisy as if it was going out of style?

    Unfortunately, for too many principles are something you practice when it costs you nothing…

  32. Mark: There is nothing wrong with you wanting certain people to SHUT THE HELL UP. I have my list of people who, I think, could improve the world by keeping their mouth shut.

    But I do not believe that sending the police after them is the right thing to do.

    In this, I side with Voltaire, I abhor what you preach, but I will defend to the death your right to do it.

    So, no matter if it is Falun Gong, or Scientologists, if their rights are infringed, theyn they must be defended.

    “First they came for the Scientologists…

    Then they came for the Falun gong…

    When they came for me, there was no one to speak up.”

  33. WTF??? How can she be charged with a crime for this? Wouldn’t that violate the first amendment? Is there any case law for this sort of thing?

    Same questions about the “peace grannies” mentioned above. I didn’t read everyone’s comments but if anyone is given jail time merely for this sort of thing, I would be in favor of getting some “free __” thing going.

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