Today, Berkeley lives up to one of its nicknames–The Open Ward.*
The City Council will meet to take back its laughably ill-considered invitation for the U.S. Marines to take their recruiting office and scram. The city’s officially designated antiwar protest group, Code Pink, will be doing a daylong group hand-wring downtown. They’ll be joined by a contingent of angry We Love the Troops protesters [who have already showed up and in fact are screaming that they have been attacked by the Code Pinkers!]. We may even be honored by a visit from the Rev. Fred Phelps antigay hate squad from Topeka, Kansas.
Listening to council members and reading what they have to say, it’s depressing and hilarious to hear their puzzlement about the intensity of the storm they stirred up. Depressing, I guess, because of the collective lack of understanding that there’s a free speech issue involved here; hilarious because of the naivete that blinded them to the likelihood that calling the Marines “unwelcome intruders” would trigger outrage not just from pro-war, pro-military quarters but from First Amendment-loving anti-war liberals as well.
What they say about sowing and reaping–it’s true.
*OK — The Open Ward used to apply specifically to Telegraph Avenue. Today, I think it’s fair to apply the name more widely.