Democrats Coerced out of Bookstore

An article from the Delaware News Journal tells a story of Rick Santorum's security staff clearing out the riff raff from a Barnes & Noble where he had a book signing.

An off-duty police officer apparently threatened two teenage girls with arrest if they did not leave the store.

At least they weren't


B&N is private property. If Hillary Clinton was signing a book there and I wanted to engage her in dialogue about her philandering husband I bet they would throw me out too.

As to the two differing stories what else would you expect?

As to being honor students, who freaking cares. So they get good grades what does that mean, that they can't cause a disruption? The guy that was the valedictorian at a high school near me (not the one I went to I had nuns) beat a guy to death with a table leg.

When a political rally is taking place in the park then feel free to have your say, when it is on private property you're just SOL.

Oh, and you might want to change ‘article’ to ‘opinion piece’, at least that is what it says at the top of the page.

I think I am being slightly misunderstood. I think they learned how far some people go to for their ideologies.

Sometimes hyperbole is lost in this medium, but the remarks about whispering comments were of course hyperbole.

During the last election Republican supporters were kicked out of Democratic events and similarly Democratic supporters were kicked out of Republican events. Of course there were apologies all around after the fact, but people were not allowed to express their message where and when they wanted. They may have learned this lesson, well perhaps lesson is not the right word but perhaps they learned this bit of reality.

I'm not disagreeing with you, in fact I am agreeing with you... it is unfortunate that we can't truly engage in free debate - everything is scripted talking points in politics. Free exchange of ideas is what brings about change, not recitation of political mantras by rote.

I also agree that the Constitution is not a quaint irrelevant dusty piece of paper from the past, but I don't think it is a living document either. It is just the rules by which we have to play the game we call our Democracy, we can't go about re-interpreting them as we see fit.

Yes, you do get to converse at a book signing--not much or for long, but that's part of why people go to signings, to have a moment with the author, make a comment, ask a question, get a response.

Secondly, no, I'm sure they didn't think he would really sign a book by a gay author--but why would you think that they should expect any problems getting into line with it? At most book signings, if there's any restriction it's on the number of items you can present for signing, not the number and content of the books you're carrying. It's a book signing, for cryin' out loud; they expect readers. Some bookstores do require that you purchase the book being pushed at the store and have the receipt ready to prove it; others, especially for smaller events, do not. Presenting him with a book that they expect him to find somewhat offensive and asking him to sign it is a somewhat adolescent way of expressing their disagreement--but, hey, guess what, they're adolescents. If they did it in a courteous and non-disruptive manner, there'd be no real reason to prevent them from doing it, and politely refusing to sign it could have been a real win for Santorum.

Thirdly--no, whispering something not along party lines, or saying it normal conversational tones, is not "causing a disturbance". This isn't the old USSR, or even the new Russia; expressing a dissenting opinion isn't "disruption" unless it is done in a disruptive manner.

A book signing to which the general public is invited is a public event in the usual meaning of the term. Barnes & Noble has more right to restrict attendance at an event on their premises than if it were taking place on public property--but there is no evidence in this story that this decision was made by B&N. In the version we've got, the restrictions were imposed by Santorum's hired security, who denied that B&N had any authority in the matter--a stance that, if for the sake of argument we accept this unreliable source (a columnist, not a reporter), I'd think you'd find amazing. If this is a normal bookstore book signing, Santorum hasn't rented the space and become the temporary legal possesor of it; he's been invited by B&N and is as much a guest on their property as the teenagers and their parental units. Even his security people--private security, not Secret Serivce--have no legal authority beyond what B&N choose to accord them. In this version of the story, they're so far out of line they're meeting themselves coming around the other way.

On public property, of course, there are very few instances in which the non-disruptive expression of a dissenting political opinion can be legally restricted. Public employees can't express political opinions in the course of their jobs because they work for everybody, not just the party currently in charge. Public space sometimes gets rented out for private events, and becomes temporarily private space. Other than that and similar cases, no, merely (non-disruptively) expressing a dissenting opinion is not something you can ordinarily be ejected from public property for.

The Constitution is not a dead letter, and not a quaint, irrelevant, dusty piece of paper from the past.

Actually, having signed books myself at bookstores, you _are_ open to the public. That means the fools and bores have open season, and the fools and bores who agree with you are just as time consuming as the fools and bores who disagree with you. But if they buy your book, they buy you time at the store. That is their ticket to their admission and to your time.
      But a publically advertised event is just that- a time to ask the author questions and to share opinions with the author. As long as the line keeps moving and the people don't take up a lot of time so as to tick off the others in line, your time is theirs. That's why the author is there.
      To have a hired goon who throws people out of line and intimidates kids for disagreeing with the author is just shameful. However, it is a good lesson for the honors students, on the differences between political asperations (a free state) and the reality of power (and implied power) of the police, even when they are off duty.
      Also, the students did not live up to their ideals- they should have challenged the off duty cop to go ahead and arrest them. Someone would have had to press charges, and I would be interested to see who would have signed that document. After all, the cop only had the power to arrest- it is a judge, faced by a lawyer, who has the real power to place judgement. And what an interesting case! A Republican politician author surpressing free speech, a large book chain with no control over the actions of hired security people, censorship of American citizens (and minors at that!) who challenge an author, being able to subpena and cross examine everyone involved, involving newspapers, photographers, TV news clips at 11, store managers- this would have been a fun circus.
      Sigh. Where are the kids who question authority anymore? They just don't make high school students like they used to!
      And as to keeping you out of college? That's a laugh. Being tossed in the pokey for disagreeing with a politician author at a book signing in a known bookstore chain- that student would be whistled in to any reputable school. Certainly it would make their application stand out from all the rest.
      And if they never got to college, they could nevertheless make a living for the next fifty years addressing ALA and PLA conventions on the dangers of censorship...

I guess I did find it funny that they thought they could speak freely with Santorum at that event for several reasons. First, do you really get to converse at a book signing? Secondly, do they really think he would sign a book by a gay author - or that they would even get in line with it. Third do they think after causing a disturbance (even whispering something not along party lines would be a disturbance :> ) they would get inside.

I think they learned if its not in public (on public property not on private property onto which the public is invited) then you can't expect to share your dissenting view - and often times if it is on public property you still can't.

Free speech is not as free as we believe it to be. That is not a Republican or Democrat thing, it just is.

But if what they learned from this "learning experience" is that they can't question elected officials about their positions in public, that would be a bad thing. Public officials are not ordained-by-God aristocracy, and we are not the unwashed peasants living on their land on their sufferance. They are answerable to us.

I pretty much agree with what you're saying now, but in your original comment you seemed almost hysterical at the idea that these uppity teenagers would dare ask an elected official questions he didn't want to hear. Every elected official should expect to get questions he'd rather not hear, whenever he goes to a place where he'll be meeting and speaking to members of the general public. And they should all be a little less insulated from the general public. The president can't wander around like Scandinavian royalty, but presidential "town meetings" should be something other than party-loyalists-only events, and senators and congressmen, and candidates for any office, should assume that if they're meeting the public, it's going to be a cross-section of the public, not a sanitized, my-supporters-only subset.

I don't believe either story, the troopers or the kids. I'm sure there is a modicum of truth to both, but then again each side is going to paint the most favorable picture.

I doubt that anyone really told the kids they were banned from the mall, but that is one of those he said she said sort of things.

I do think it was a learning experience for the students none the less as they can see how the real world operates, rather than simply reading the directions supplied in the citizens' owners manual- the Constitution.

You might want to take note of two conflicting statements DiJiacomo (the off-duty cop working security for the event) is reported to have made:

1. B&N is private property and the students, once they were asked to leave, were trespassing.
2. Hannah's mother couldn't talk to B&N management about it because it was not up to the management, that B&N had no authority.

Apparently, B&N's private property rights count for nothing if there's any risk they might overrule a decision to evict customers.

Furthermore, do you not think it's overreaching a bit for Rick Santorum's hired security to tell the girls that they were banned indefinitely not only from the bookstore, but from the entire mall next door? Do the private property rights of the mall owner and the stores in the mall come in to play here, or does Rick Santorum's hired security have sweeping rights to ban customers from those malls based on their having come to an event advertised to the general public to ask an electec public official some questions about his positions? I'd think that part of the story might bother you, even if the rest didn't.

And, oh yes, Hillary Clinton and books signings--Hillary, and Bill, and other non-rightwing public figures who're written books, have had critics show up at their book signings. Those critics have not been evicted unless they did something disruptive--with "disruptive" defined as something other than just asking challenging questions.

But on your last point, brace yourself:), I agree with you. Conversation about what's being reported in the media would be helped immensely by everyone having a firmer grasp on what's a news piece and what's an opinion piece. We're both reacting to this opinion column on the assumption that the basic facts reported are at least roughly accurate, but opinion pieces aren't fact-checked before publication, and the story told might bear little or no resemblance to whatever really happened at the bookstore.

Not surprising though, if you google Santorum, the first hit is only semi work safe as it proposes an alternate usage for the name Santorum, and it seems to be sticking. His own party shivers whenever he speaks. But whenever someone chooses to be Michael Moore/Rush Limbaugh skewed from reality I am not shocked by anything they do. I really do think it was too bad Mike and Rush were seperated at birth :-( mozilla-search&start=0&start=0&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&c lient=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official

It doesn't surprise me. There is a vast difference between todays Democrats and those of 50-60 years ago.

Today they are a bunch of cry baby socialists.

Never have an original idea, just continue to try and tear down everybody elses efforts.

I think except for the George Soros radicals most people are beginning to see through their weak premise and their style of playing the minorities.

That's it for today,


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