When free speech meets politics

According to a CNN article, a graphic designer from West Virginia was fired from his job at an advertising and design company for heckling President George W. Bush at a political rally. The designer’s firing comes after a summer of similar actions taken against others who spoke out against the president.

The case of the graphic designer, Glen Hiller, 35, can be argued as appropriate, as the tickets he used to enter the event were provided by a large client of the company at which Hiller was employed.

It follows then, since Hiller was at the rally because of his company; he should have held his political opinions to himself.

Yet, other events of the summer show the flipside of private people and how far private companies and law enforcement have gone to keep those with anti-Bush opinions from voicing them without serious repercussions.

Last month two protesters were arrested in Charleston for wearing anti-Bush shirts to a July 4 rally with the president. The shirts, which read “Love America,” across the front and, “Hate Bush,” on the back were seemingly enough for local police to remove the pair from the event in restraints.

The Charleston City Council has since apologized.

July 14, comedienne Whoopi Goldberg was dropped as spokesperson for Slim-Fast because of remarks she made at a fund-raiser for Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry.

The company let Goldberg go after GOP supporters and conservative groups threatened to boycott the company’s product if Slim-Fast did not respond to Goldberg’s actions.

The event was not sponsored by Slim-Fast. Goldberg was not at the event as the spokesperson for Slim-Fast. Yet, her personal opinion and humor lost her a large monetary contract.

And, the protesters at President Bush’s July 4 rally simply wore their personal views on a T-shirt — much like Bush supporters waved supporting flags.

Somewhere during the last four years it has become a crime to voice one’s opinion of a political candidate if the opinion differs from the preferred.

Large pocketbooks and the GOP party are using their clout to quiet the anti-Bush opinion by any means necessary.

While these groups may be able to control people they provide rally tickets to — Hiller for example — they do not have the right to fire or arrest a private person for expressing their opinion.

The big brother of the GOP and republicans alike should appreciate the amount of people actually caring enough to wear the shirts and make the comments as opposed to stifling them. With that, maybe the candidates would focus on the issues at hand.