Somehow Code Pink activists got back on the floor of the Republican National Convention during Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech. After two activists, very briefly, heckled Paul Ryan on the previous night, it’s surprising that anyone without genuine credentials could get past convention security. But four Code Pink activists did, carrying pink banners, which they unfurled early in Governor Romney’s speech.
As before, the delegates began chanting “USA USA” to drown out the protesters, a relatively simple task. This time, the demonstrators were cleared from the arena even more quickly than the previous night, and the nominee didn’t acknowledge their presence–although he did pause. The slogan was: “People over profits; democracy is not a business.”
Here, an activist being ushered out is confronted by both mainstream and partisan media trying to find a better story.
Now, what comes of all this? Certainly the Code Pink contingent was less of a disruption than invited guest Clint Eastwood’s uh, performance. It’s hard to imagine that the banners changed the mind of anyone on the convention floor, nor were the Code Pink arguments articulated in any greater clarity or specificity than the arguments of the invited speakers.
Code Pink rent a little opening in the mostly tightly produced convention, giving people who wanted to talk about something else or something critical the space to do so. Probably more significantly, Code Pink demonstrated to its own supporters the capacity to get into the news and into the picture, a picture that wouldn’t be very appealing otherwise. The momentary snippet of guerrilla theater meant more to the faithful than their opponents or a broader audience, but it may inspire some of those activists to continue their efforts.
In today’s society, many people equate heckling with free speech.
And to that statement I would say, “Yes it is.”
But what it really says is….
Look at me!…I’m so smart…and resourceful…
I fooled all the people in the room.
My ideas are more important than yours.
Because ‘I’ say so.
Moments like this underscore the fact the civilized discourse is dead and that what counts now, is only how loud I can yell above those I am trying to drown out.
Heckling has become obsolete in the age of Twitter and Facebook. It is once again a sign of immaturity, rudeness and mean spiritedness.
And should anyone be caught heckling at the Democrat Convention, this statement still stands.
J.R. Werbics is a Canadian writer and philosopher.