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Pelosi Is An Expert At 'Drowning Out Opposing Views'

By Jodie Evans  Posted by Jodie Evans (about the submitter)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
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Disruption of the healthcare town hall meetings has triggered some rich debate about free speech in the U.S. In these discussions, CODEPINK has been referenced several times as the group who has most often tested the boundaries of free speech.

Over the years, we've been chided and insulted by the media, Members of Congress, former Press Secretaries, and even President Bush himself. However, when Nancy Pelosi weighed in recently on the townhall "mobs," saying that "drowning out opposing views is un-American," I was compelled to respond.

While the frequent mentions of CODEPINK in these discussions do not surprise me, it saddens me that there are so few groups from the past decade to reference when talking about pushing the edge of healthy debate. Congress has been failing the people in so many ways for so long that there should have been a non-stop primal scream from the people to wake the our representatives up from their corporate-funded stupor.

But who would have heard them? For far too long, the American people have been cut off from and out of the political process without any real avenues of letting their voices be heard. So when Speaker Pelosi

"" no stranger to drowning out opposing views "" talks about "drowning out opposing views is un-American," the statement is steeped with irony.

For example, CODEPINK attended Nancy Pelosi's last town hall meeting in January of 2006. Let me be clear - these town halls are one of very few ways for the people to voice their opinions, and CODEPINK does not disrupt healthy debate at these events, as some of the protesters have done at recent healthcare town halls.

At this event, CODEPINK cofounder Medea Benjamin, was the first in line to ask a question. After her question was ignored (no answer was given), CODEPINK members stood quietly in the front of the room with their banner. No screaming, no verbal attacks or threats of violence, no disruption of the other voices in the room.

At the time of the meeting, Pelosi had announced she'd taken the impeachment of George Bush "off the table," choosing her "popularity" and conservative funding sources over her constitutional duty. Millions of Americans were not happy but Pelosi refused to have any other town halls for the rest of Bush's term, effectively "drowning out opposing views." Today, over three years later, she continues to work at locking out debate about single payer in the Congressional hearings on healthcare.

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In the media surrounding the healthcare town halls, protesters disruptions have been compared to CODEPINK's presence in Congress. This is comparing the proverbial apples to oranges and doesn't distinguish Congressional hearings from the public-centered townhalls.

In Congressional hearings, the discussion is all too often one-sided, with the voice of the people woefully absent. We seek to expand the conversation and introduce the elephants in the room, most often we've delivered our message with our choice of costume or the messaging on our signs and t-shirts. We do this after we have exhausted every other remedy to express our opinions - after we've called, written letters, delivered petitions, brought activists to DC from around the country and met with our representatives. We resort to non-violent direct actions when there is no other way to get the message across.

We've understood, regrettably, when we go to a hearing that if we stand up and deliver the message that it is quite probable that we will be arrested. Our 'outbursts' are not meant to shut-down conversation. They're meant to join it where we have been shut out. This does not seem to be the motive of the healthcare protestors, who appear to be upset that the topic is even being visited.

However, what is most sobering about this "debate about debate" is that here, in this country that considers itself to be the most democratic in the world, dissent is so rare and so frightening. We need dissent now more than ever. Our representatives have just forked over $10 trillion to Wall Street and another $100 billion for wars.

We should all be attending town halls right now and asking the hard questions, demanding accountability. Our representatives need to feel our anger at the wholesale selling out of everything we value. But this can only happen when we have all the facts and when we respect the other voices in the room. We absolutely must demand to be heard -but never through violence and never at the expense of silencing others!

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A Big Waste Of Time. Reps and Dems don't debate. ... by John Little on Wednesday, Aug 12, 2009 at 11:40:53 PM
John,You are an extremely informed, intelligent, p... by Raphael Sidelman on Thursday, Aug 13, 2009 at 4:33:19 PM
It's worse than "ironical". Hecklers from the righ... by Josh Mitteldorf on Thursday, Aug 13, 2009 at 9:43:52 AM
You must mean from the CENTER. What's "leftist" ... by Jill Herendeen on Thursday, Aug 13, 2009 at 3:20:01 PM
KEEP FIGHTING FOR JUSTICEMajority Leader *harry re... by Joe Walsh on Thursday, Aug 13, 2009 at 10:24:18 AM
The difference between the Republican and Democrat... by Dan Mage on Thursday, Aug 13, 2009 at 10:30:12 AM
The previous commenters on this post seem to be of... by Don Smith on Thursday, Aug 13, 2009 at 11:20:13 AM
What CODEPINK and other counter-disruptors do not ... by Eugene Elander on Thursday, Aug 13, 2009 at 1:06:10 PM
And you can see my full opinion on the difference ... by Steven Leser on Thursday, Aug 13, 2009 at 5:58:51 PM
Pelosi is a sorry excuse for the position that she... by David H Abernathy on Thursday, Aug 13, 2009 at 1:28:30 PM
This is a one-party state. It has been for decades... by John Little on Thursday, Aug 13, 2009 at 2:09:49 PM
I once participated in a demonstration where Pelos... by Paul Karsh on Thursday, Aug 13, 2009 at 2:12:42 PM
Pelosi is a disappointing tool. I remember being r... by LanceThruster on Thursday, Aug 13, 2009 at 3:29:57 PM
A Political Love Story ... by Don Smith on Thursday, Aug 13, 2009 at 4:44:21 PM
The "don't tase me bro" episode. All that nice you... by shirley reese on Thursday, Aug 13, 2009 at 9:10:23 PM
If you can vote, do so. If you can't, get yourself... by Richard Pietrasz on Thursday, Aug 13, 2009 at 11:09:38 PM
After the Dems screw up the health care thing, the... by Bryan Emmel on Friday, Aug 14, 2009 at 2:06:34 AM
Pelosi is a specialist at shielding Bush from any ... by Lance Ciepiela on Friday, Aug 14, 2009 at 9:21:22 AM
and Don Smith for the Love Story. Protest the Pel... by Samuel Bryan on Friday, Aug 14, 2009 at 2:41:28 PM
Code Pink has pulled stunts such as trying to shut... by Scott on Sunday, Aug 16, 2009 at 10:27:48 PM