Friday Poll and Comment Forum: Removing Spectators from the Assembly Gallery

Here’s a video of the gallery of Wisconsin’s Assembly, where spectators are being removed for wearing 8.5 x 11 inch pieces of paper taped to their shirts. Silent, peaceful citizens, sitting with messages, removed for displaying written words on their clothing. Mere words.

Leaving aside Rep. Kessler’s legal justification (whether their rights in this case are absolute), there’s a simpler question: do they — should they — have the speech rights they’re trying to exercise in this context?

We have fallen so far, so fast, that for the majority party, the answer is that they should not. Should citizenship and residency, constitution and law, mean nothing against a majority’s desire to enforce its will, and stifle opposing voices?

Those who ordered this removal are as thin-skinned as they are ignorant.

Readers cannot say they’re uncertain of my views: removing these spectators for these reasons was wrong, and deeply un-American.

That’s just one view, however strongly expressed; what do you think?

Below I have the video, a poll, and a place for comments.


The post will remain open until Sunday morning. Comments will be moderated against profanity and trolls; otherwise, have at it.

9 thoughts on “Friday Poll and Comment Forum: Removing Spectators from the Assembly Gallery

  1. This is just awful. It’s a spiteful rule designed treat adults like children. The Republicans want to run Wisconsin but not have to see different opinions.

    When someone says something they don’t like, they say it’s an opinion from the wrong, “untrue” parts of Wisconsin like Dane County. They want to pretend that only their counties are genuine Wisconsin counties. Other voices are ridiculed as illegitimate.

  2. They could move the statehouse where all their supporters live.Brookfield probably has room.

  3. I’d be very curious to hear form the folks who thought their removal was justified….

  4. The rules say no signs and they WORE signs = arrested for breaking the rules. Real simple.

  5. If people do not like the rule I would recommend changing the rule. The Republicans are just following the same rules that I believe existed before the people of the state of Wisconsin swept them into power back in November.

    I also might add that If you allow a small sign, what is to stop bigger and perhaps offensive signs inside the chamber? It seems some don’t want rules enforced when those rules cause an inconvenience to people they agree with. If having signs in the chamber is such a fundamental right why did the minority not change it when they controlled everything?

    Thank You!

  6. First time post doer – Welcome, and thanks for commenting. The counter-argument against the rule would be that another kind of law, a constitutional right of expression, should trump the Assembly rule (with the obvious reply to that counter-argument being that the expression right should not apply to the gallery). I’d say the constitutional right should win, limited narrowly only to prevent vocal outbursts, for example.

    Whether t-shirts with applied lettering, paper taped to shirts, or signs of small size, there may still be a distinction to make between protected political speech and lawfully restricted speech; the contrary principle of no speech lest their be offensive speech would mean no expression, not merely in the gallery, but elsewhere.

  7. Anonymous – Thanks for your comments. One could have a society where rules were beyond challenge (or at least beyond challenge outside of the legislature that enacted them). That would be a society not merely without a concept judicial review, but more practically a society without citizen recourse against a majority’s infringement of others’ rights.

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