On August 11, a man with a loaded firearm in a holster appeared outside a town hall meeting in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where President Obama was speaking. He carried a sign that said: "It is Time to Water the Tree of Liberty"—a reference to Thomas Jefferson's statement that "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." Neither the Secret Service nor police ushered the man away from the area of the president's town meeting. ("Protestor at Obama Healthcare Town Hall Carried 9mm Pistol-Legally," Guardian, August 12, 2009)
On August 17, a reported dozen people carrying guns, including two with assault rifles, were among protestors outside a convention center in Phoenix, Arizona, where President Obama was speaking. It was the latest incident where protestors with guns were seen outside events where the president had appeared to speak about his healthcare proposals, which right-wing opponents denounce as an assault on liberty. Neither the Secret Service nor police ushered the persons carrying guns away from the event, nor were any persons carrying firearms arrested. ("Armed Men Seen Outside Barack Obama Event," Telegraph/UK [via Common Dreams], August 18, 2009)
Compare this restraint by the Secret Service and police to the following events.
In July 2008, a 61-year-old librarian was arrested at a McCain campaign event in Denver for carrying a sign that read, "McCain=Bush." ("Woman Arrested at McCain Event for ‘McCain=Bush' Sign," AlterNet, July 7, 2008)
In 2005, three people were ejected by police from a Bush town hall meeting in Denver after they arrived in a car with a bumper sticker that read, "No More Blood for Oil." ("Politicians Are Stifling Dissent, Critics Say," Knight-Ridder [via Common Dreams], February 4, 2006)
In October 2004, three school teachers in Medford, Oregon, were threatened with arrest by police and thrown out of a political rally featuring President Bush after they showed up wearing T-shirts with the slogan, "Protect Our Civil Liberties." ("Teachers' T-Shirts Bring Bush Speech Ouster," NewsChannel 8, Portland [via Common Dreams], October 15, 2004)
In July 2004, a Wisconsin county supervisor wearing a blue-denim shirt over a T-shirt that said "Kerry for President" was ejected from a Bush campaign speech after the Secret Service reportedly took his driver's license, social security number, and phone number. (" County Supervisor Booted from Bush Event for Wearing Hidden Kerry T-Shirt," The Progressive, July 22, 2004) - Howard Friel
Republicans, Religion and the Triumph of Unreason -