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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Young Republicans: Card Carrying Members of the ACLU

posted by on October 28 at 20:14 PM

This e-mail from a Bellevue Community College student came in today:

As a student at Bellevue Community College I was officially invited to observe the Senator Cantwell, Barack Obama event held on campus last week. The Cantwell campaign and BCC sent out an invitation to all students to attend this event held on public grounds where I am a student. I have a copy of the email invitation to ALL students from the school to attend without stipulation. After waiting in line for approximately an hour with other students, we arrived at the door to the public event in the gymnasium. Myself and approximately 6 other students were physically removed from the line and prohibited from entering the event, based upon the exclusive fact that we were wearing Mike McGavick t-shirts with his name on them. The Cantwell, Obama poiltical advisor Tim Barry made it clear we were not to be allowed in. The BCC Dean of Students first disagreed with the advisor and said we would be allowed to go in. Then after further discussion with the advisor she retracted and said we could only go in if we took off our t shirts. A minute later she then advised us we couldn’t go in at all. Class was cancelled for this event, and some of us were there for a graded assignment as well. The teachers who did cancel their class to accomodate this rally questioned the vice president as well to ask why we were unable to enter because of our t shirts that simply had Mike McGavicks name on them. An english professor who teaches at BCC was even escorted out of the gymnasium for holding a candidtate sign up. The ACLU is seeking to represent us, we have contacted the ACLJ, and The Institute for Justice, and we have been interviewed on various radio shows thus far. There is an article in the King County Journal as well with a few discrepancies about this. BCC and the Cantwell campaign discriminated against us and violated our first ammendment rights to free speech on our own government school organization campus. Legal action is being taken. No one was there to cause a disruption, and no one was cited or arrested for misconduct, yet the school who officially invited us as well as the Cantwell campaign discriminated against many after inviting all to attend. This is a clear violation of students free speech rights on college campus, and we wish to tell our story. Please contact should you need further information. Thank you Justin Yates

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If it were some sort of "official" government event or Obama was doing a straight up speaking event for the school, they would have a case.

However, since it was a Democratic party campaign rally, tough titties. They have the right to admit who they want and Young Republicans looking to make a scene don't have a right to entry to what's technically a private function.

Posted by Aexia | October 28, 2006 8:45 PM

If it's not bullshit, then I totally back them. This is a technique that Bush pioneered and I sure as hell don't want us taking it up. We should invite our enemies in. Our ides are good enough that we can kick the hell out of them intellectually.

Posted by Gitai | October 28, 2006 8:47 PM

if this is true, it's a disgrace. I hope to find out it is a mistake or a ploy from the Republicans orchestrated to make Cantwell look bad..... , but if the Cantwell campaign indeed allowed this.... shame on them.... and shame on the school too.
I await more input.

Posted by roman4 | October 28, 2006 8:47 PM

aexia the post says the invite was to ALL students. Now I'm waiting to find out the he said she said to find out what was actually offered in the invitation, but if it was to all students, then all should be allowed in. Including young fools supporting McGavick. Gitai is right, this is a Bush/Rove move. Cantwell and Obama shouldn't adopt it. This isn't supposed to be private cult were everyone nods their heads yes and cheers and never has to be confronted with other's questions and ideas. I begin to feel we are between totalatarian leaning right wingers and comrade group think leaning left enders

Posted by roman4 | October 28, 2006 8:53 PM

sure, obama/cantwell had a right to pick and choose their crowds. still, this sort of thing was lame when bush does it for his campaign events, and it's lame when democrats do it.

Posted by josh | October 28, 2006 8:55 PM

Legally as a private event they can probably do it. However it just seems petty and wrong. If what is said is true then the Cantwell campaign should apologize. IT is wrong when Bush et al does it and it is wrong when we do it.

Posted by Giffy | October 28, 2006 9:05 PM

Are people running political campaigns really so inept? Was it not obvious that turning them away would create an issue?

Posted by Noink | October 28, 2006 9:09 PM

Noink has it.

Wouldn't the wise plan be to let them in, have them make fools of themselves, and then remove them?

Posted by golob | October 28, 2006 9:11 PM

It was wrong to turn them away. It is hypocritical for the young Repugs to go screaming to the ACLU—hasn't Dear Leader instructed us that the ACLU is on the side of the terrorists?

Posted by Dan Savage | October 28, 2006 9:32 PM

So assuming McGavick has a big old rally on public property somewhere before election day, then anyone wearing a Cantwell shirt is welcome? Right?

Posted by stilwell | October 28, 2006 10:00 PM

Hmmm, something smell here. Smells bad. Smells real bad.

I think there's something more to it that would explain the school and the campaign's actions, but I also believe that will be lost in the righteous republican noise.

But them going to the ACLU. That's rich - and that's what the progressives need to play up. It's the American Civil Liberties Union, not the Asshole's Convenient Legal Unit (That's the best I can do right now. I've had a lot of wine tonight)

Posted by catalina vel-duray | October 28, 2006 11:05 PM

Sorry, son. We all have to make sacrifices in the name of Homeland Security. Now scram, before I decide you're an enemy combatant.

Posted by Matthew | October 28, 2006 11:28 PM

Kicking them out is pure hypocrisy. Are the Dems, save for their difference in policies, honestly any different in practice from the GOP? The answer needs to be no.

Rise above such tactics, and don't kick people out because they wear t-shirts supporting your rivals.

Posted by Gomez | October 28, 2006 11:45 PM

I was at the Peter Goldmark rally in Spokane this morning. Four McMorris supporters showed up dressed as clowns. We welcomed them of course because there is nothing more appropriate than a McMorris supporter in a clown suit.

Posted by luvs the cowboy | October 29, 2006 12:14 AM

Last February I went over to Garfield High, where Cantwell and Obama were holding a campaign rally on her behalf. It was billed as an "education summit" but no matter.

I stood on the steps above the auditorium, as people were waiting in line to get in, and staged a silent protest against Cantwell's continuing support for the Iraq War. I held a sign that listed the number of U.S. military dead, injured, and the estimated number of Iraqi civilians killed. Many of those waiting to enter the building waved, gave me the thumbs up sign, and some others came to chat with me about my protest and offer their unqualified support. I spent most of the time standing and chatting with a man involved in the Renton chapter of Veterans For Peace.

After awhile, a Cantwell staffer came up the steps and threatened me with arrest if I did not leave the premises immediately. I explained that I had no intention of entering the auditorium and crashing the party, and was not causing any disturbance, as my protest was a silent protest. She threatened me again and I remarked that she was reminding me of George Bush's protectors, who screen rally entrants beforehand, and throw anyone off the property who might be peacefully dissenting.

If anyone is still confused, I can assure you: the Cantwell campaign brooks NO dissent, and has learned well how to adopt Bush/Rovian tactics when it comes to the issue of free speech and (dis)allowing peaceful protest.

Posted by shoephone | October 29, 2006 1:43 AM

RCW Title 132H covers BCC. The last 3 paragraphs of RCW 132H-142-030 seem relevant.

IANAL, and this isn't exhaustive. State law aside, the ethical bar rises a notch when BCC sends an email to their mailing list (or lets a third party send to it).

BCC's goals and public disclosure policy emphasize inclusion:

"Affirmation of Inclusion"

Posted by Troy | October 29, 2006 2:32 AM

The Cantwell campaign is turning into the Cant "campaign" Well? As has been pointed out, BushCo pioneered this technique. It was wrong then and it is wrong for any politician to adopt. The Young Republicans have a right to go to the ACLU and I am proud to see that organization step forward and offer it's assistance. Republicans often run to the ACLU for legal assistance, despite a long history of picking on the organization for a variety of reasons (Senior Presidente Bush also ran to them after lambasting them in the 1988 campaign). Is it hypocritical? Sure, and the Democrats should exploit that point when Republicans raise it.

The ACLU also has high Republican affiliations. Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey has worked with them since leaving office as has Bob Barr. The fact that both men now associate more with Libertarians than Republicans says more about the current regime than their political leanings. The ACLU is happy to take the high road for individual rights and more power to them for doing so. It would be so much easier to wallow in the political mud as so many want them to do.

Posted by B.D. | October 29, 2006 5:20 AM

The important question remains unasked: Why would ANY student worth their salt wear a t-shirt for, or in any way support, McGavick?

Posted by the chimpanzee | October 29, 2006 7:21 AM

I'd wait for more information about this particular event. However when Bush/Rove use the same tactics its at official federal sponsored "policy, information gathering" events(sometimes required for public input) not actual campaign rallies. Furthermore taxpayers pay tens, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars to stage those events for television(Democrats sometimes remember to put up a flag or erase a whiteboard they are standing in front of). If the Reps or Dems want to keep the other side out of their own events, they paid for with their own money, its probably legal(and Dems should do more often in my opinion, the media always focuses on the fringe people).

Posted by anne | October 29, 2006 9:04 AM

This is the Cantwell event in question.

Obama was the marquee draw for a Democratic Party rally at the Bellevue Community College gymnasium to boost the campaigns of Sen. Maria Cantwell for re-election and Darcy Burner for Congress in the 8th District.

The article also notes that Bush had a campaign rally in the exact same location in 2000.

Posted by Aexia | October 29, 2006 9:50 AM

My SO works for the cantwell campaign on a lowly level and was telling me fun stories about these guys earlier. Didn't know they'd try to make such hay out of it.

I consider myself a civil libertarian, and understand how troublesome this sounds on its face, but com'on. Cantwell rented the space. Paid for it, plain and simple. If teachers decide to cancel class because a private party is having a private event on campus, so be it, that's not the campaign's fault. Additionally, if those students who needed to attend to receive didn't get in because they were going to be disruptive, tough shit. They don't get to be disruptive in class, either. And anyways, it seems likely the professor wanted them to go not as partisans, but as academics.

Also, the post above is important -- there was a rally on Halloween night for Bush, and I went with a friend with picketing signs and flyers, and we understood we had to stay outside because it was a private event. We didn't go crying to the press, we didn't hire an attorney, we understood our rights and theirs before the event started.

These guys are whining with no leg to stand on, it's just that it's 9 days until November 7th.

Posted by Juris | October 29, 2006 12:30 PM

I attend BCC, I attended the rally, and I am in the class where attending the rally was an assignment.

Yes, BCC sent out an email about the event, but I didn’t take it as an invitation. It addressed the parking issues that day and mentioned the bus rerouting. The part of the email they are taking as an invitation: The Cantwell campaign has told us BCC students are welcome to attend this event. Doors open at 9 a.m., and no tickets are necessary. The speeches are expected to begin shortly after 10. Further questions about the event should be directed to Sen. Cantwell’s campaign headquarters, at 206-217-2006. I have the email if someone wants to read the whole thing.

The assignment was a last-minute one for class when some students informed the professor that they would not be in class the next day while they attended the rally. The class is Introduction to American Political Culture, so she thought it would be a good idea for us all to attend. The kid with the uncompleted assignment is a very vocal conservative who has let his dislike of the ACLU be known repeatedly. I find his recent conversion to ACLU client hilarious.

I know that people were upset about the school being used for a rally, but the gym is rented out regularly by lots of different groups. My high school graduation was there. If they rented it out, then I believe they can let whomever they want in. They were weeding people out (the also didn’t let in a faculty member with an Aaron Dixon sign), but apparently not carefully enough—two LaRouche supporters got in and started singing during Cantwell’s speech, and got hustled out by the cops pretty quickly. I think it sucks that they didn’t let them in, but I believe it was within their rights. It’s kind of nice (in that petty way) to see Rove tactics turned on his fans. But it’s unfortunate that Dems are willing to stoop to that level, especially when Obama mentioned during his speech his dislike of dirty politics.

Posted by Ipomoea | October 29, 2006 2:00 PM

here is an except from the king county journal:

But Yates said they weren't there to cause trouble.

"I was there to observe," he said. "Maybe they could have swayed my vote."

you don't go to a DEMOCRATIC EVENT as a republican supporter thinking that your vote could be swayed.

Posted by jojox | October 29, 2006 3:17 PM

I wonder if Justin Yates believes he had more of a right to be inside this event than the hundreds of campaign vollunteers and supporters who waited in line to attend in SUPPORT of the campaigns and were turned away because the crowd in the Gymnasium was way over capacity.

This was a campaign rally that probably cost the Cantwell campaign many thousands of dollars with the intent of motivating supporters to help get out the vote. Unless Yates believes he could have been "swayed" to volunteer to help Darcy Burner beat Dave Reichert, he cannot argue that he had any business there.

What happened is not a "Carl Rove tactic." This is not silencing dissenters in some kind of "open forum" or "town hall" as Bush has done so often. This was a rally, which is obviously meant to do just that: rally the people who support the campaign. That is what the campaigns paid for, and that is what the campaign supporters and volunteers who attended where there for. It is not a marketplace of ideas. It is a show. And like a Broadway play, if you interrupt the actors or you make it clear that you will, you will not be welcomed there.

McGavick's supporters have a clear motive to try to make sure that the event doesn't go smoothly. Very little is lost on Mike's part if his supporters decide to be assholes at a Cantwell rally and get marshalled out, but such an situation would have a real impact on the success of the event. The planners of the event had every right to make sure their show went smoothly.

There is another consideration that hasn't been brought up: safety. Preventing an inevitable distraction and maybe even a scuffle that would result from the young men promoting the oposing campaign while crowded in with cheering democrats was the prudent thing to do. Unlike a debate or forum, where a mixed crowd expects to have to restrain themselves, a rally is meant to excite people but the last thing anyone wants is a misunderstanding turning into a fight.

The closest free speach case to this situation is probably Cohen v. California, but in that case it was public property and public speech. Here, Cantwell's campaign has a responsibility to ensure the safty and well-being of attendees and prevent problems that they may forsee, and Cantwell's campaign has no requirement to pay out of the Senator's pocket to give a free platform to her oponent.

50 bucks says the ACLU sees that there is no case here and Yates and his friends have to take McGavick's coming defeat like men.

Posted by Spiffy K | October 29, 2006 10:46 PM

I think there is a distinction to be made between the President's invitation-only "town hall meetings", with his toadies and syncophants asking gushing scripted questions (all on the taxpayer's dime) and a situation like this. But I still think something's fishy (drank too much wine tonight too, I'm afraid)

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | October 29, 2006 11:32 PM

Isn't this the way it was?

* School-sponsored event at a public-supported school;
* Classes dismissed, students told to attend a total-Democrat ecstasy rave;
* Students with 'Mike!' t-shirts, reporting as required to the 'Crat propaganda pig-wallow, are profiled & detained at the door, then are denied entrance to the event their profs told them to attend;
* Then the ACLU junps in.

That's ACLU SOP, by the way. Every few years they make quiet noises about the truncated civil rights of conservatives. That way, ACLU maintains its pretense of dispassionate fairness & balance. (Laura Ingraham, who is so stooopid, once challenged an ACLUtard to name one, just one, time his hate group had defended the Right. We supported the Nazis at Skokie, he said. Well, said Laura, that's one. Any others?)

That's also how Big Media play the game. In the first months of a Democrat administration, when nobody's looking, ABC, NBC, CBS, & the Times (New York) & the Times (LA) & the Times (Seattle) will bravely report the Democrats' culture of corruption. Then it's back to business as usual, the libeling of Republicans.

In early 1993, Jeff Gerth of the Jayson Blair Times picked up where Weird Al Gore & Moonbeam Jerry Brown left off, asking inconvenient questions about Clinton's Whitewater. Then it was back to beating up Gingrich & Dole.

Posted by milhous | October 30, 2006 9:46 AM

Being that it was a rally for Cantwell the organizers had every right to tell the students that the McGavick t-shirts were not welcome and they had a choice; take them off if they wished to enter or keep them on if they did not wish to enter. It's pretty simple. McGavick himself says he's running a campaign of civility so wearing an opponents t-shirt to a rally flies directly counter to that. Just tacky. No the Democrats should not adopt the same methods of picking and choosing an audience, but this said it is amusing to see these students whining about something they probably cheered Bush for doing. They have no case at all. Remember that this was an event that was held on campus where if an article of clothing is deemed inappropriate by the administration "you're auffed".

Posted by Joshy | October 30, 2006 10:41 AM

Let them in...if they were to create drama, remove them.

Otherwise, why create a story at this point? I also don't want to go down the road that the Republicans have paved.

Posted by Shawn | October 30, 2006 3:00 PM

"The kid with the uncompleted assignment is a very vocal conservative who has let his dislike of the ACLU be known repeatedly. I find his recent conversion to ACLU client hilarious."

Ipomoea, I'll see you in class tomorrow, but I thought I'd make a comment. First of all, you're right, the ACLU is not my favorite organization. They support groups such as NAMBLA, which is about as disgusting as it gets. However, they ARE the American Civil Liberties Union. No matter what they've done in the past, their job is to represent people who have been discriminated against as far as civil rights go. Therefore, we called them and let them know about the situation. This is an obvious violation of our first amendment rights. We were invited to the event by the Cantwell campaign, and many professors cancelled class so that students could attend the rally. There was no stipulation as to what you could wear, what political party you had to belong to, this was an invitation to ALL BCC students. The five of us didn't feel that we should have to be counted among the Cantwell supporters, so we wore our Mike McGavick for Senate t-shirts. We patiently stood in line, civily talking to the people around us. We get to the front, are physically grabbed and forced out of line, and are made to stand outside for the entire event. For wearing a t-shirt. That's it. And no, (I'll pre-empt what I know is coming), I would not be ok with it happening if the McGavick campaign was in the same situation. Discrimination is discrimination, regardless of political affiliation. And another thing, we had no idea we were going to be stopped at the door. We had no idea that just a few days later, we would be in contact with various radio shows/tv programs, the ACLU, the ACLJ, etc. This whole thing could have been avoided very easily. All the Cantwell campaign would have had to do was to let us into the public event that we were invited to.

Posted by Nick_Jacob | October 31, 2006 1:36 AM

The rally organizers were pretty evenhanded about prohibiting signs -- we were told to leave our 'Obama for President' sign outside. Of course once inside we were handed signs to wave, but that is politics for you...

Would you be OK with the same thing happening at a pro-Bush rally? How about facing arrest? (see

If you really want to get into a rally with an anti- tee-shirt on, simply wear a coat over it when you walk in. It was a pretty cold morning anyway, so you had to be trying pretty hard to get noticed.

By the way, who was the older man who was apparently directing you? I saw you guys conferring with him as you milled around when the candidates left.

Posted by George | October 31, 2006 8:22 AM


1.) We didn't have signs.

2.)I already answered that question in my post above.

3.)We weren't trying to cause a disruption, but yes, we wanted to show our support for Mr. McGavick.

4.)I have no idea what man you're talking about. Maybe a BCC official? I'm not sure. If you're suggesting that there was some Republican operative there directing us on what to do, you're mistaken.

Posted by Nick_Jacob | October 31, 2006 9:40 AM

My question is that if those students had turned there shirts inside out would they have been admitted into the the meeting held at BCC? What happened to those students who needed to go and were not allowed in, were they given a failing grade?

Posted by Gail Frankie | October 31, 2006 9:42 AM

You know, if you "didn't feel that [you] should have to be counted among the Cantwell supporters"... you could have just worn plain shirts.
I am a BCC student and I was at that rally. I'm an independent as far as voting goes, in case that's worthy of note. And when I left the rally, I was loudly booed by a crowd of people wearing Mike! shirts and bearing signs that read "Maria CantVOTEwell." Maybe that wasn't you, but still... I could imagine the police there imagining a riot in a packed gym.
I'm not saying that BCC/the event coordinators were correct in what they did, but... honestly.

Posted by Pamma | October 31, 2006 11:48 PM

I was at the rally. When Maria Cantwell began speaking a group of male students began singing, drowning her out. At that point they were escorted outside, thankfully. So they WERE allowed inside before they created a disturbance.
If these students were there on a class assignment, they wouldn't have been organized with t-shirts and song.

Posted by frida | November 3, 2006 6:38 PM

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