Friday, April 21, 2006

China breach

Woman speaks truth to power; power apologizes for truth

BBC--A woman has appeared in court in Washington after heckling visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao at the White House.

Wang Wenyi, 47, was charged with harassing, intimidating and threatening a foreign official.

Ms Wang, who had a press pass for the event, had shouted at Mr Hu not to oppress the outlawed Chinese spiritual movement, the Falun Gong. An embarrassed President George W Bush apologised to Mr Hu for the outburst.

"Gee, I'm sorry about that, Mr. Hu. I don't know know where these people get the idea that they can say whatever they want! Just continue to make yourself at home."

She was released on condition she remained in New York City, did not approach the White House and came only to Washington for legal reasons.

Well, that sounds fair. After all, the White House is the hub of the free world and you can't just have known threats walking around it all willy-nilly. So what exactly did Wang say to cause such a Martha Stewart ankle-braceleting?

She shouted in Chinese: "Stop oppressing the Falun Gong" and "Your time is running out".

She also shouted in English: "President Bush, stop him from killing."

How radical! She said to stop the killing! Do you suppose if she had cried, "Continue the killing," she would still be allowed to take the White House tour? I just want to know, in case I'm ever in D.C. and witness a mugging, whether or not I can scream to the assailant to stop. I don't want to be unpatriotic or anything.

Her lawyer argued she was entitled to free speech under the First Amendment. Prosecutors said the amendment did not allow her to break the law.

Similarly, I can't think of any amendments that allow for illegal war or genocide. And now, please excuse my coughing fit.

A lot of questions about free speech and foreign policy are bound to erupt from this incident. For one thing, why would someone have the audacity to scream such things at a public summit? Wouldn't there be a more appropriate forum for such concerns? Well, probably. But then again, when else are these two men ever going to hear words of criticism? We're talking about the least accessible president in American history and the leader of the largest communist nation on the planet. Reports indicate that their summit is going nowhere fast, which is no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. It's a case of the Great Wall meeting the Brick Wall; these guys can't even communicate with each other, much less with the skeptical rest of the world. Still, who can blame anyone for trying such a long shot? Moxie like Wang's made the United States what it is today. Or at least what it used to be, when people were allowed to speak their minds.

Remember when Ari Fleischer told us all to watch what we say? Well, it seems that a lot of people are tired of hearing that after five years. The American populace is not one to take kindly to two terms of being told our voices don't matter, that we just need to shut up and continue to buy stuff made for pennies by children to line the pockets of corporate billionaires who drive giant SUVs that cause accidents from which we can't afford to heal because nobody has any health insurance anymore. Some of us still consider ourselves citizens, and we're tired of our vocal cords being made hoarse by the strep that is the Bush administration.

Perhaps this Chinese-American woman, this doctor-cum-journalist, embodies all of us who can think of no other way to communicate to our world leaders how an average person feels these days. Furthermore, this may be the only chance anyone ever gets to utter dissent to the Chinese president. In an ideal world, such heckling would be considered bad taste. But in this day and age, it's almost a necessity.

7 comments:

Speechie said...

What I don't understand is how it can be considered heckling, considering that according to the constitution she has the right peacably assemble herself anywhere she wants and also to say anything she wants. I would love to see Wang's next column or report about this...it should be quite interesting. Especially considering that if she felt comfortable doing that while on the job, she must work for quite a liberal newspaper, and newspapers cannot be censored by the government...hmmmm...really, it should be quite good.

Interestingly enough...the countries that seem to do the most genocidic killing these days also seem to be the ones who cover the costs of healthcare for their people (with the exception of Africa...those people just get their asses torn apart...apathetic sounding, I know, but honestly, I am beginning to feel slightly desensitized, which is sad). Maybe they think that they can save money on health insurance by killing off all the people and that's why they do it.

T-Mac said...

Well, I'm all for protests...I mean, to the extent that it got national attention, I guess it's good. However, the protest got more attention for HER than for her ISSUES, in my opinion, so it might ultimately be counter-productive. Just my .02

Ian McGibboney said...

T-Mac, the focus is going to be on the person as long as the media continues to make it so. There's nothing any protester can really do about it, nor should they, because otherwise people will self-censor.

But I do think the issue should be on a person: Bush. Why did he apologize to Hu for what this woman said? Embarrassment? The only thing he should be embarrassed about is that he's apologizing to the head of a communist state because an American exercised a basic freedom.

Speechie, Wang is actually a doctor with a press pass. I don't know how she finagled the gig, but apparently she was there for a legitimate press purpose. I would very much like to see what she says. I hope she doesn't apologize.

Michael said...

What law did she allegedly break, again? Was I napping when Congress made it illegal to interrupt when someone else was speaking? (In which case Bush's soon-to-be-ex press secretary is going to have to spend the rest of his life in solitary confinement--as will most of the White House Press Corpse, for that matter.)

T-Mac said...

OK, fair enough, good answer.

Speechie said...

I'm just having a moment to myself. First, I find it superbly interesting that a doctor was allowed into a White House press conference in the first place and imagine that whoever helped her get the pass probably knew she was going to create an outburst. Not that I disagree with her outburst, obviously. I mean, I'm all for doing something about the Chinese gov't. especially when they perpetuate the targeting of religious leaders.

Michael, part of my moment to myself was a good chuckle at something you said...I am not sure if you did it on purpose or if you just had a slip of the hand but either way it came out genius...
"...as will most of the White House Press CORPSE..." *sigh from laughing too hard* I found it a wonderful addition to what Ian had already said.

And on that note, I have to wonder if maybe the press corps needs a lesson in how to feel strongly...at least lately. I remember a time...or maybe I just think I do...when the press corps was about asking and answering the tough questions and striving for the pursuit of truth. I remember when there were more journalists, reporters and columnists alike, who were like you, Mr. Columnist, unafraid to tell it like it is.

Sadly, we are being censored by our own government, lost in an never-ending solitary confinement that says we have free speech but only if it doesn't make the President blush.

yournamehere said...

Ian, maybe you can answer a question for me: Why do we impose sanctions and a trade embargo on Cuba but not China? Why is a small Communist country with not much of a military to speak of considered more of a threat than the most populous nation on earth? Does the Cuban government oppress its citizens to a greater degree than does the Chinese government? Help me out here.