Two T-Shirts. How Many More?

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Dueling memos! Memo to the Left: CINDY SHEEHAN IS NOT A FREEDOM FIGHTER. Memo to the Right: SHE'S STILL BETTER THAN YOU ARE.

Oh, the Great T-Shirt Imbroglio of 2006, the second-most interesting thing to come out of the State of the Union Address. Unfortunately for me, the most interesting thing has already been joked to death, and Daily Show hasn't even aired as I type this. That'd be Bush's call to outlaw genetic "animal-human hybrids", which, as we all know, get much better mileage than your standard human. OK, maybe not ENTIRELY joked out, but I already need both hands to count the number of times I've heard the Manimal joke.

So anyway, I'm sure you know all about the T-Shirt thing already. Cindy Sheehan wears a shirt that said "2245 Dead - How Many More?", got kicked out of the State of the Union, got arrested, got charged with unlawful conduct, and then got an apology and the charges dropped before Wednesday was over. meanwhile, Beverly Young, wife of a Republican congressman, wore a "Support The Troops - Defending Our Freedom" T-shirt, was kicked out of the State of the Union, didn't get arrested, and got an apology before Wednesday was over.

Now, I like Cindy Sheehan. I like her for one reason, and one reason alone. She gives right-wingers apoplectic fits. I don't know why, but whenever she comes up, they lose their shit. From O'Reilly and Limbaugh to the complete psychos on a USA Today blog: ACTUAL LIST OF QUOTES TIME!

"PEOPLE LIKE YOU DONT BELONG ON THIS SOIL.TO BAD YOU NEVER HAD A HISTORY LESSON,OR HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN THE ATTACKS ON US..YOUR KIND MAKE ME SICK" - "They should be shackled and removed from my beloved country." - "The loss of her son has scrambled her! Some member of her family needs to get the poor women help and get her out of the hands of these people."

Man, that's great.That level of sheer madness is invaluable. But she's not some innocent victim here, and we don't have to champion her for her to have her delectable effect on jingoistic fuckwads. So cut it out. She was playing the game. We all know it. And we should applaud it, because playing the game is what we need more of. Shameless stunts. Grabbing airtime. Getting heard. Disrupting the official narrative. But don't feel sorry for Cindy. It couldn't have played out better if I'd written it.

Arresting Sheehan and not arresting Young is the kind of public relations misstep that makes me smile in my sleep. Giving the right an entire day to bloviate about her "breaking the law" and then dropping the charges is just the icing on the cake.

I am curious, though... what the hell kind of charge is "unlawful conduct"? On the face of it, it appears you can be charged with the crime of doing something that's against the law. Because it's illegal. But if you're doing something that's against the law, shouldn't they charge you based on the law you broke? That's precisely the kind of bullshit law that makes the whole thing sound even MORE fishy.

The only thing more fun than the incident has been the coverage - Sheehan was first reported to have "unfurled an anti-war banner", instead of merely removing her jacket. How many reporters cover the State of the Union address? How many cameras? And they somehow managed to report a non-existent banner being unfurled? It's almost as if they'd written that story earlier in the afternoon, when they first heard Sheehan got herself a ticket.

And USA Today - which, admittedly, never gets mentioned as part of the "liberal media" - used this sentence to describe Mrs. Young's shirt:

"Young's shirt had just the opposite message: "Support the Troops — Defending Our Freedom." - Now, I don't expect USA Today writers to know the meaning of the word "opposite", because it contains three syllables. But the two T-shirts aren't even contradictory, much less diametrically opposed. It's almost as if the media felt that there's only two possible camps everything that happens can be divided into, and did so accordingly, without regard to the actual content. But that'd never happen. That's even less likely than some kind of, oh, I don't know... animal-human hybrid?