March 4, 2011

A Free-Speech Countervoice Takes the Center of the Wisconsin Capitol Rotunda.

Today, Meade went back to the Capitol rotunda to see what things were like after the overnight-sleeping protesters had been cleared out pursuant to a state court order. It was easy to get into the building, and lots of protesters were back, chanting their usual chants. But one man — who did not agree with the protesters — decided he would occupy the central spot. To the consternation of the others, he invited people to come talk to him one-on-one.



There's reasonable dialogue along with unreasonable efforts to drown out that dialogue. A polite organizer asks the man to move out of the center of the rotunda, and he refuses. There's an almost perfectly beautiful interlude when everyone sings the national anthem. Nervous women air the notion that the man — and Meade — are Walker plants. The woman accusing Meade sticks her finger right into the camera lens. And then, somehow, Meade becomes human to her, and, as 2 young girls spot a friend on the balcony and run off, we have the feeling that maybe everything's going to be all right.

I started to imagine Wisconsinites coming back to the building every day, talking about everything, on and on, indefinitely into the future. That man who decided to hold dialogues in the center of the rotunda is a courageous man. But it isn't that hard to be as courageous as he was. In the long run, it's easier to do that than to spend your life intimidated and repressed. That man was showing us how to be free. He was there today, but you — and you and you! — could be there tomorrow, standing your ground, inviting people to talk to you, listening and going back and forth, for the sheer demonstration of the power of human dialogue and the preservation of freedom.

And you could start singing the National Anthem. If you go in, with no idea other than to sing the National Anthem, there's a good chance everyone will stop what they are yelling and chanting and sing along with you, because nobody wants to be seen not singing along with the National Anthem. Oh, except that one girl. But let's be charitable. She has a whole life inside her, and we don't know what it is.

87 comments:

FloridaSteve said...

I'm warmed by your optimism and the obvious love you have for you home state. Maybe the most perfect post I've read here. Thanks for that.

Lem said...

Play Ball!!

Chip Ahoy said...

This is where ASL comes in really er handy.

FloridaSteve said...

On a more substantative note, according to Rasmussen the approval ratings are against Walker and the Republicans are getting "wobbly". I can't imagine the roasting they are going to get from their party if they cave. And deservedly so. It also doesn't hel that the poll questions are hideously skewed.

edutcher said...

A guy who isn't one of the great unwashed wants to discuss what's been happening for 2 weeks and that makes him a Walker plant.

Oh, boy!!!

Welcome to the wonderful world of free speech in the Worker's Paradise.

Henry said...

And you could start singing the National Anthem.

Or the Marseillaise

kent said...

BOMB THREAT At Scott Walker News Conference – Leftist Protester Arrested

Far Left protester Patrick J. Knauf, 43, of Eau Claire was arrested on Wednesday for the violation of making a bomb scare under state statute 947.015.

"This is what democracy looks like!"

Revenant said...

It says a lot about the mentality of the protesters that they see someone who disagrees with them and immediately guess he's being paid for it.

edutcher said...

FloridaSteve said...

On a more substantative note, according to Rasmussen the approval ratings are against Walker and the Republicans are getting "wobbly". I can't imagine the roasting they are going to get from their party if they cave. And deservedly so. It also doesn't hel that the poll questions are hideously skewed.

Excellent point, sir.

Politicians are forever in their campaign ads enlightening us with the quality of leadership they will provide, as if we sheep have been waiting in darkness, praying for some such as they to deliver us.

What we're seeing in people like Kasich, Christie, and, especially, Walker is real leadership. Not Willie-Clinton-Ah'll-tell-y'all-whut-Ah-think-when-Morris-shows-me-his-latest-poll, but do-what-you-think-is-right leadership.

BTW, I saw somewhere (Hot Air, I believe) Walker had the same kind of time in Milwaukee, but stuck to his guns there, also.

Marilee said...

Why, why, why do these people think the capitol is reserved just for the union protests??? Why is someone with an opposing view considered a plant or a trouble maker?? The building is for all people. Just makes my blood boil that they think they own this piece of the state as their own private fiefdom. pfft

NotYourTypicalNewYorker said...

Very nice Professor, I hope you're correct.

They've made me a cynic.

Mr. D said...

This was really good. Meade does a great job here and I admire the guy who stood in the middle quite a lot. Talking beats the heck out of chanting.

SteveR said...

I guess besides guys looking to hook up, the point of all this is not to have a point. Nothing new has been expressed in 10 days.

JohnJ said...

Yes, exactly, Meade! Freedom of speech!

DADvocate said...

Why all the paranoia about "Walker plants?" What's a Walker plant going to do? Gather double secret information? Some how mesmerize the protesters into believing Walker is the second coming and they should all fall on their knees? Are they selling drugs or participating in some sort of illegal conspiracy? Or, as Ann suggested the other day, are they not fully in touch with reality?

AprilApple said...

I stand with that man in the middle. Liberty.

Paddy O said...

On, Wisconsin!

kent said...

Mr. Toad, of Toad Hall, weighs in:

Ed Schultz Calls Wisconsin Budget 'Racist'

Fen said...

It says a lot about the mentality of the protesters that they see someone who disagrees with them and immediately guess he's being paid for it.

To be fair, I'm sure some of them are worried that he's being paid more

I remember an article some years back about a group of lefty protestor-workers being flown into New Orleans. They had no idea what they would be protesting but were sure they would be given their marching orders once they arrived.

rcocean said...

Actually there is a point to all this. The point is to delay and put enough pressure on enough weak-kneed RINO Senators that they'll crack like rotten eggs.

It usually works.

DADvocate said...

Mr. Toad, of Toad Hall, weighs in:

I'm so glad that the lefties have a talk show host fatter than Limbaugh.

Lem said...

Actually there is a point to all this. The point is to delay and put enough pressure on enough weak-kneed RINO Senators that they'll crack like rotten eggs.

It usually works
.

I've been making that point myself.. Democrats know why they are doing this.. it has worked probably every time they tried.

TosaGuy said...

It's as like some of those people have not only never heard an opposing point of view, they can't even comprehend that someone would have one.

NotYourTypicalNewYorker said...

rcocean said...

"Actually there is a point to all this. The point is to delay and put enough pressure on enough weak-kneed RINO Senators that they'll crack like rotten eggs."


!00% correct while the Repubs have been playing nice the unions have been mobilizing wih mailings and phone banks and such.

Lem said...

Lets not kid ourselves people.. there a method to their madness.

rcocean said...

They (liberal protesters) think the guys a plant or "Outside Agitator" because that's what they'd do - if they were on the other side.

Liberals do this all the time. They're "Mobys" on the internet, they call up talk radio and pretend to be conservative, they did it at the Tea Party rallies. They've even tried to disrupt the comment section on this blog (pathetic? yes).

With the left its all about projection.

Henry said...

They guy is not a Walker plant. A guy like that doesn't exist in a rolodex.

That fact underpins the brilliance of New Media Meade as well. The ideals of the left are as lofty as their self-regard, yet their vision is narrow. They see nothing. Thus, their first refuge in the face of opposition is paranoia. "He's a Walker plant." "Fox News."

Confronted with the authenticity of Meade, Althouse, or our man in the arena, they get confused.

They won't change their minds, but they might give up a few cliches.

Fen said...

The point is to delay and put enough pressure on enough weak-kneed RINO Senators that they'll crack like rotten eggs.

Then Wisconsin residents will face the same fate as Caradoc, Celticus and Regnus in The Last Of The Legions:

"The three Britons looked at each other in amazement. Their first impulse was towards a wild exultation, but reflection and doubt followed close upon its heels.

"This is indeed wondrous news," said Celticus. "This is a day of days to the motherland. When do the legions go, your excellency, and what troops will remain behind for our protection?"

"The legions go at once," said the viceroy. "You will doubtless rejoice to hear that within a month there will be no Roman soldier in the island, nor, indeed, a Roman of any sort, age, or sex, if I can take them with me."

The faces of the Britons were shadowed, and Caradoc, a grave and thoughtful man, spoke for the first time.

"But this is over sudden, your excellency," said he. "There is much truth in what you have said about the pirates. From my villa near the fort of Anderida I saw eighty of their galleys only last week, and I know well that they would be on us like ravens on a dying ox. For many years to come it would not be possible for us to hold them off."

The viceroy shrugged his shoulders. "It is your affair now," said he. "Rome must look to herself."

The last traces of joy had passed from the faces of the Britons. Suddenly the future had started up clearly before them, and they quailed at the prospect.

"There is a rumour in the market-place," said Celticus, "that the northern Barbarians are through the gap in the wall. Who is to stop their progress?"

"You and your fellows," said the Roman.

Clearer still grew the future, and there was terror in the eyes of the spokesmen as they faced it.

"But, your excellency, if the legions should go at once, we should have the wild Scots at York, and the Northmen in the Thames within the month. We can build ourselves up under your shield, and in a few years it would be easier for us; but not now, your excellency, not now."

"Tut, man; for years you have been clamouring in our ears and raising the people. Now you have got what you asked. What more would you have? Within the month you will be as free as were your ancestors before Caesar set foot upon your shore."

"For God's sake, your excellency, put our words out of your head. The matter had not been well considered. We will send to Rome. We will ride post-haste ourselves. We will fall at the Emperor's feet. We will kneel before the Senate and beg that the legions remain."

The Roman proconsul rose from his chair and motioned that the audience was at an end.

"You will do what you please," said he. "I and my men are for Italy."

JohnJ said...

Yes!

Exactly, Meade!

Freedom of speech!

rcocean said...

I hope it doesn't happen but a lot of RINO's can't resist the urge to go "Maverick".

If they cave, they'll be praised by the MSM and be invited on TV to explain why they are being so "reasonable" and "responsible."

alan markus said...

This is all getting a little tedious! This would be a great setting for a flash mob happening.

With this song:
Oklahoma!

Or this one:
Deep in the Heart of Texas

I betcha they'd all join in too.

Hank Rearden_WI said...

That big guy was at the Support Walker Rally in Madison a couple of Saturdays ago. He was in a logo'd bikers jacket with a Gadsden flag in one hand, and a sign encouraging civility from all, in the other.

His main location was - from the view from the speakers dais - to the left, and on the lawn.

His dominant presence got a lot of attention from others with cameras, and video. He was interviewed quite often. I was impressed with his demeanor, and that the others knew they wouldn't, and couldn't, f with him.

Stand tall Wisconsin.

traditionalguy said...

A soft answer turns away wrath. A nice job of making peace, indeed.

Lem said...

When the stakes are high and there's an incentive to cheat, a small percentage of people always win.. Freakonomics

The unions know how to win because they are not afraid to cheat.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

And you could start singing the National Anthem.

Or the chorus of Alice's Restaurant

Fred4Pres said...

There is power in standing in the center of the rotunda.

Just what the architect intended.

Windbag said...

Imagine what a high school kid would be subjected to, who happened to hold conservative values, and who would dare to challenge one of these teachers in class.

Lem said...

I hope it doesn't happen but a lot of RINO's can't resist the urge to go "Maverick".

It will be a freaking miracle if Walker pulls it off.

garage mahal said...

They see nothing. Thus, their first refuge in the face of opposition is paranoia. "He's a Walker plant." "Fox News."


Walker is the one tripping here. bolting windows and shutting down the opposition by force. Endlessly sending law enforcement on these fruitless trips looking for Dem senators, and always coming back empty handed. It's a daily drip of more bad news and looking like some Republican defections are coming soon.

Protesters for the most part are just out enjoying mocking the hell out of him.

Fen said...

garage: shutting down the opposition by force

Oh brother.

ooonaughtykitty said...

Wow, that woman recognizing Meade so thoroughly. She's like one of the Pod people from 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers'.
She can tell you're still human Meade, and it's her job to alert the fellow Pods.

Don't fall asleep there!

YIKES!

michaele said...

I noticed that around 3:15 the oh, so smiley Harriet made an appearance. She "starred" in one of the earlier videos, didn't she? The first time around, she struck me as very skillful in her people handling ability...as if she was almost serving in a professional capacity.

A "Shotgun" Gold said...

I'm pretty sure that guy is celebrity pitchman Billy Mays, returned from his recent trip to oblivion.

Maybe a little Oxi-clean is what the Capitol needs.

Ralph L said...

That man who decided to hold dialogues in the center of the rotunda is a courageous man.
Your Capitol is in a rough neighborhood? Wisconsin isn't exactly Tripoli, or even Brooklyn. If they attack him in public, he wins.

Why did a state that never had a royal government put its capitol on King Street?

Reagan said...

Why shouldn't someone recognize Meade? He is another one-named celebrity. Also, he is one of the early stars of the new media. Or, alternatively, he's just another guy with a digital camera.

Reagan said...

AA: "That man was showing us how to be free." The others there were not showing us anything except how to stamp down freedom by asking for certain things, like, for example, being able to stand in the center of the rotunda.

Just like Prof. Althouse was showing us how to be free by asking to go into a specific Wisconsin Capitol door and then when some guy with an orange vest emblazoned with sharpied duct tape told her to wait in line with the other people and she told him she had a right to go in the door she wanted and then he let her in.

I think the point Prof. Althouse is trying to make is that she and others expressing their freedom by standing up for the oligarchy against the greedy teachers and nurses union are really actually just like the freedom-loving protesters of the civil rights era.

Mr. D said...

Walker is the one tripping here. bolting windows and shutting down the opposition by force.

Actually, no, but thanks for playing.

bagoh20 said...

So if the family finally sits down and talks it out, and we all feel good about that, but afterward dad goes out and continues to gamble and whore the family into bankruptcy, are we all good, and do we really love and respect each other?

Lem said...

Hey Trooper look it here..

lucid said...

Althouse wrote:
"But let's be charitable. She has a whole life inside her, and we don't know what it is."

What wonderful sentences!!!!!

bagoh20 said...

"Imagine what a high school kid would be subjected to, who happened to hold conservative values, and who would dare to challenge one of these teachers in class."

Just think of that dynamic. That's where we are. Remind you of any places in the 20th century that turned out well?

The brave are those conservative teachers willing to stand and deliver the truth to power - few they may be.

Lem said...

He was there today, but you — and you and you! — could be there tomorrow..

Yah Mo B There - James Ingram & Michael McDonald

Reagan said...

I was terrorized by having to attend a public school with these America-hating teachers, and I can tell you that it was hard to make it after being subjected to all the Marxist indoctrination. Not to mention the endless party meetings and Kumbaya bonfires. It is a real challenge to be a Republican when you grow up in Waukesha, Whitefish Bay or Mequon, Wisconsin. Hopefully Walker will enact some sort of loyalty oath legislation to root out these lazy overpaid slobs.

Anga2010 said...

At some point, you (as a boomer) will remind us all of the connection between unions and organized crime. As a genx'er, even I can recite many lines from "On the Waterfront" and I know you know what I mean.

rick said...

@Garage "shutting down the opposition by force."

You would of course not be referring to the Dems who fled to Illinois. Not that opposition.

bagoh20 said...

"Hopefully Walker will enact some sort of loyalty oath legislation to root out these lazy overpaid slobs."

All that is being asked is pay for merit and living withing our means. Is that too much?

bagoh20 said...

I think Meade's point is: Why, if free speech is so valuable, is so little attention given to content?

Guesst said...

I envy New Meadia's freedom during the workday.

Jeff said...

Protesters only know one song, Kumbaya.

Bob Ellison said...

"This argument is stupid." That is an easy and accurate assessment.

William said...

The man in the center is, indeed, a striking figure. I admire the way he maintained his equanamity and reason. It was a clever piece of street theatre using the demonstrators own tactics against them. The fact that he came alone only heightened the drama. I don't think everyone can be like him, but it is necessary that there be a few people like him.......I didn't think anyone in the crowd was a bad person. In fact, most of them looked very nice. Change the signs on the placards, and they could be tea partiers. Anyone looking at a $10,000 haircut is bound to make a fuss and tell you why their pay and perks are necessary for the continued existence of democracy. It's total crap. But if self interest is not a grand ideal, neither is it delusion or venality.

Harry said...

This reminds me of your recent post about how liberals don't seem to like to debate ideas with people who disagree with them. (There are exceptions, including some commenters at Althouse.) In this case, demonstrators seem to want to drown him out or identify him as a paid Walker shill who should be ignored. But what if he was a Walker shill? Shouldn't they try to devastate him with their rational arguments?

I would like to calmly discuss issues with my liberal friends but most of them get so angry when they realize I don't agree with them that they just shut me off.

WV--ressesse: what schoolchildren have while their teachers are off protesting.

Nate Whilk said...

Also sing the LAST verse of the SSB. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Star-Spangled_Banner#Lyrics

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation.
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!


Also "America the Beautiful", all verses, including the last (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/America_the_Beautiful#Lyrics):

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears.

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.

George said...

---Walker is the one tripping here. bolting windows and shutting down the opposition by force. Endlessly sending law enforcement on these fruitless trips looking for Dem senators ---

Its like Apocalypse Now man with the guy looking for the rogue Colonel and the broken mirror, Man. And then the indiginous tribe and the Bull being killed with a sword and lots of Vodka and acid, Man and you just had to be there.

---Puke what a trivial mind this garbage fellow has

The Crack Emcee said...

That man who decided to hold dialogues in the center of the rotunda is a courageous man. But it isn't that hard to be as courageous as he was. In the long run, it's easier to do that than to spend your life intimidated and repressed. That man was showing us how to be free.

Hey - am what am I? Chopped liver? You want to dialogue? Then let's get to yackin' on this:

How We Really Are Now (Pt. I: The Safety Dance)

How We Really Are Now (Part II: King's Lead Hat)

Mark O said...

It must be wonderous to have this kind of free time to indulge oneself.

M. Simon said...

"He's a Walker plant."

And he is smarter/better informed than we are.

Alex said...

So garagi - was the guy a Walker plant or not?

M. Simon said...

Mark O said...

It must be wonderous to have this kind of free time to indulge oneself.


Yep.

John said...

Ms. Althouse,

I'm pleased by your optimism. I hope that all murcans follow your lead. I really want us to work through this, for my children and their children, so they can avoid what will occur of this continues down this path.

Mr. Garbage Hauler,

you act like a 15 year old on here. Take your friends, go hit the bong again, and try to really find the truth; it will be from your loin.

Regards,

Bare Joker

JZ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JZ said...

I may not be the first to suggest it, but how about if people walk into the rotunda sing a bar of "Alice's Restaurant" and walk out? It's a lot easier to sing "Alice's Restaurant" than the Star Spangled banner.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

The left -

A group of people that know so much about things that just aren't so.

wv - pretschi

rhhardin said...

because nobody wants to be seen not singing along with the National Anthem

That's why it turned up at ball games. It gets the crowd to shut up and pay attention.

Self-appointed and unpaid(!) enforcers in the crowd make sure it works.

Unpaid is the marketing genius of the move.

And woe be to the ball player who does not have his hand on his heart.

There's the place for courage.

Hugh Dudgeon said...

This may have been linked here previously, here's another courageous individual speaking calmly and rationally to a union mob.

Paddy O said...

Finally watched the video...

First off, what's up with the California State Flag (at 1:49)?

Second, I loved the comment by the lady at 7:35, talking to Meade. "You look a little scruffy, you look like one of the slobs today."

Reminded me of this classic movie line.

John said...

Just curious, is that Ed, Nina's occasional traveling companion, at the beginning of this clip? It kind of looks like him.

roesch-voltaire said...

I think the right wing has lost the narrative in these protests and thus they try to reframe the events to fit their bias: Rush with his kotex image, Fox news with imported violent palm tree, and Meade with his run-in with demonstration marshals. The reality is these protests have been far too orderly and open to the public, filled by middle class teachers and firefighters as well as students, to fit the right wing media stereotypes. While I can not attend as often as Meade and Althouse do, I have participated in and seen dialogs between pro- and anti Walker folks. Of course when one insists on taking center stage, which is fine by me, it does cause one to wonder, but this is Wisconsin no courage is needed because we honor the shifting and winnowing of ideas.

txrxqa said...

roesch-voltaire said...

"I think the right wing has lost the narrative in these protests and ..."


Right, but, what are _your_ ideas for budget savings in the upcoming budget?

Continue the status quo?

Can't do that, and *something* has to be done ...

.

Class factotum said...

That man who decided to hold dialogues in the center of the rotunda is a courageous man.

I know! Because the jackbooted police might come to his house in the middle of the night, kick down the door, and disappear him. It is very dangerous to speak your mind in this country.

txrxqa said...


Class factotum said...

...

I know! Because the jackbooted police might come to his house in the middle of the night, kick down the door, and disappear him. It is very dangerous to speak your mind in this country.


Notice the young Barack Obama 'community organizing' at 2:41 in the video; would this be the time to verify his birth cert?

.

jeff said...

"Nervous women air the notion that the man — and Meade — are Walker plants."
I keep seeing stuff like this. Isnt the job of a plant to pretend to be part of the protest and then do something to make the protester look bad?

txrxqa said...

Paddy O said...

Finally watched the video...

First off, what's up with the California State Flag (at 1:49)?


While we're at it, can someone riddle my why a Puerto Rico flag appears at 6:38 in the video down there on the floor?

Has this kinda degenerated into an all-purpose demonstration?

Mugging for the camera/face time on the news/attention-seeking for cause du jour while the Budget Repair Bill and the economic future of Wisconsin hangs precariously in the balance?


The California flag I can see as a solidarity thing; so too the PR flag (there are words below the 'Puerto Rico' on the flag that I cannot make out ... I'm thinking it's statehood related is all)?

.

deborah said...

rhhardin said...
because nobody wants to be seen not singing along with the National Anthem

That's why it turned up at ball games. It gets the crowd to shut up and pay attention.

Self-appointed and unpaid(!) enforcers in the crowd make sure it works"

Yes, but how important is it that both sides have a common interest/heritage/love as a touchstone to build upon?

orbicularioculi said...

What truly amazes me is that the teachers, and the other union members seem to believe that only they have a right to protest or be in the State Capitol Building.

They are really out of touch with the will of the taxpaying citizens of Wisconsin and America.

1) Walker and the Republicans won the election in Novermber and control the Legislature and Executive Branches in Wisconsin.
2) They promised to balance the budget of the state of Wisconsin and take control of public union unfunded benefits and pensions

Legally the legislature must act and the Executive has to execute the law.

The Democrats in the Senate are refusing to vote which is an abrogation of their sworn duty.

Personally I want the Senators to be brought in handcuffs to the Senate floor, a vote taken, the law passed. It will be done.

These "protesters" are arrogant, greedy, stupid public employees.

Charlie said...

A fantastic read….very literate and informative. Many thanks

bentley-parts

Valerie said...

I am a protester at the capitol, I have met a few walker-supporters; but most stay away because they don't like conflict- fair enough- the few I have talked to, have had little knowledge of the issues. Granted it is a large bill, but I am well versed on the corrections and education issues. The walker supporters have anti-teacher, anti-union rhetoric, and random numbers from right wing organizations, but few are willing or able to discuss the real issues in this bill.