Leave your Free Speech at the Curb – but only until you are ordered to leave.

Posted on October 22, 2012


Originally, I had leaned towards taking a pass on this story. It wasn’t until I found that most of the people I’ve discussed it with, haven’t heard it, but also found it difficult to believe, that I decided to write a post.  I decided that it was important for you to realize the extent to which the culture of law enforcement has been corrupted by the rise of the Police State in America and the disrespect for the Constitution.   I felt it vital to note that only Democrat and Republican candidates are entitled to ‘credentials’ with which to participate in a public dialog.

First thing. I’m not in agreement with the Green Party politically.  That may be the understatement of my career.  If I shared some random point of view with them on any matter of policy, it would be remarkably coincidental to say the least. Anyone who has been reading my posts already knows that.

This issue is not about whether one agrees or disagrees with their platform or positions. It has to do with civil rights and preservation of the 1st Amendment.  That is where I share a ‘synoptic’ view with them.

I  believe that it is illegitimate for any Presidential debate to be held in a public facility such as the auditorium of a state university while excluding candidates who have qualified for the ballot in a majority of states. We should have been able to see and hear not only Jill Stein, but also Gary Johnson, Virgil Goode, and even the obnoxious gas bag Roseanne Barr, the Peace and Freedom nominee.

There were important questions that needed to be asked and issues raised; questions and issues that the two main parties prefer to avoid at all costs.

The video I’ve inserted will provide context to the account of Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala’s arrest while outside last week’s Presidential debate at Hofstra University. There is no doubt that these two women realized that they most likely would be arrested for not obeying the commands of the police. What they probably weren’t expecting was to be taken to an empty warehouse set up as a makeshift detention facility and held virtually incommunicado for 8 ½ hours.

They also couldn’t have imagined that they would be restrained to a chair with wrist ties or ‘plasticuffs’ for the entire duration. Plasticuffs are associated by medical experts with many cases of soft tissue and nerve damage – much more so than conventional metal handcuffs.

Ask yourself if you truly think the police believed that these two women in any way posed an existential threat of violence that would justify them being handled in such a manner.    What follows here, is a transcript of the interview that Jill Stein had with Amy Goodman, one of the hosts of ‘Democracy Now’.  The interview gives background to the bizarre and inhumane treatment afforded these two women.

 AMY GOODMAN: Green Party candidates Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala were held for about eight hours before being released. Dr. Stein joins us now in our studio as part of our “Expanding the Debate” special. But before we go to it, Jill Stein, what happened? You were arrested and held for eight hours? Where and how?

DR. JILL STEIN: We were held at a facility, especially created for detaining protesters at the debates. It appeared to be a warehouse which had been specially equipped. It was obviously—you know, they were prepared to handle a lot of people. They had 13 officers there and three plainclothesmen. For most of the time, it was just Cheri Honkala and myself, yet they felt the need to keep us in tight plastic restraints, tightly secured to metal chairs.

AMY GOODMAN: You were handcuffed to chairs?

DR. JILL STEIN: We were handcuffed to chairs for the entire duration of our time there.

AMY GOODMAN: How long were you handcuffed to the chair?

DR. JILL STEIN: It was about eight hours. And we were charged only with violations, not even with misdemeanors, and yet they felt compelled, despite having 13 officers there to keep these two women, mothers, handcuffed to chairs for the entire time.

AMY GOODMAN: Did you ask to be released?

DR. JILL STEIN: Yes, yes, and they said, no, we couldn’t be released because then we might go wandering around. And we said, “Well, how about if we tell you that we will stay in our chairs?” And they said, “No, that’s not OK.”

AMY GOODMAN: Handcuffed to the chairs—

DR. JILL STEIN: That’s right.

AMY GOODMAN: —for the eight hours.

DR. JILL STEIN: That was their procedure for handling people who were arrested at the debates.

AMY GOODMAN: Did you get to see the debate in the warehouse?

DR. JILL STEIN: Absolutely not.

AMY GOODMAN: And then they released you as soon as the debate was over?

DR. JILL STEIN: No, they held us for about another half-hour, hour, and then they released us, telling us that our car was waiting in the parking lot. It was actually a Secret Service car, apparently, that was waiting in the parking lot. We didn’t—we weren’t allowed to make a phone call. There was no phone that was working. They wouldn’t—we didn’t have ours. We had given our phones to our assistant, so it was—you know, it took quite a bit of work to be able to borrow a cellphone from someone in a gas station—you know, there we are in the freezing cold—to even be able to find our staff.

AMY GOODMAN: They didn’t give you an opportunity to make a call during this entire period of your detention?

DR. JILL STEIN: No, they did at one point. They allowed me to return a call to our lawyer. But at the time, we didn’t know when we would be released, so there were no arrangements made for a pickup. And they actually told our staff that they would be arrested if they continued to wait on site, so they had to leave.

The fact that I have almost zero in common with Dr. Stein on political matters, is completely beside the point here. The point is that soon, your speech and my speech may be subject to the same kinds of intimidation and sanction as were these womens’.

There is no litmus test for the 1st Amendment.