Suffice it to say there will be no “bridging” of the partisan divide from this Bush-hating group:
In the genteel world of bridge, disputes are usually handled quietly and rarely involve issues of national policy. But in a fight reminiscent of the brouhaha over an anti-Bush statement by Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks in 2003, a team of women who represented the United States at the world bridge championships in Shanghai last month is facing sanctions, including a yearlong ban from competition, for a spur-of-the-moment protest.
At issue is a crudely lettered sign, scribbled on the back of a menu, that was held up at an awards dinner and read, “We did not vote for Bush.”
By e-mail, angry bridge players have accused the women of “treason” and “sedition.”
“This isn’t a free-speech issue” said Jan Martel, president of the United States Bridge Federation, the nonprofit group that selects teams for international tournaments. “There isn’t any question that private organizations can control the speech of people who represent them.”
Not so, said Danny Kleinman, a professional bridge player, teacher and columnist. “If the U.S.B.F. wants to impose conditions of membership that involve curtailment of free speech, then it cannot claim to represent our country in international competition” he said by e-mail.
Ms. Martel said the action by the team, which had won the Venice Cup, the women’s title, at the Shanghai event, could cost the federation corporate sponsors.
The players have been stunned by the reaction to what they saw as a spontaneous gesture, “a moment of levity” said Gail Greenberg, the team’s nonplaying captain and winner of 11 world championships.
“What we were trying to say, not to Americans but to our friends from other countries, was that we understand that they are questioning and critical of what our country is doing these days, and we want you to know that we, too, are critical” Ms. Greenberg said, stressing that she was speaking for herself and not her six teammates.
Ms. Greenberg said she decided to put up the sign in response to questions from players from other countries about American interrogation techniques, the war in Iraq and other foreign policy issues.
“There was a lot of anti-Bush feeling, questioning of our Iraq policy and about torture” Ms. Greenberg said. “I can’t tell you it was an overwhelming amount, but there were several specific comments, and there wasn’t the same warmth you usually feel at these events.”
I’m not the only one who noticed the irony of these women protesting the evil Bush “regime” … in China:
Let’s see if we got this right…
These players are concerned about interrogation techniques (waterboarding) and foreign policy issues (Gitmo) while playing cards in China(?)
Did they not notice they were playing cards in Communist China?
China- The same country that harvests prisoner’s body organs– The same country that jails Christians and people of faith- The same country that murdered 30-40 million of its own citizens less than 50 years ago.
Do these pampered loons have any perspective of history?
Now they’re whining about freedom of speech?
They probably didn’t notice the lack of protesters on the street in Shanghai.
…Or anywhere in China.
As far as the “free speech” issue, these women aren’t being threatened by the federal government, so this isn’t a case where their 1st amendment rights are being suppressed. James Joyner explains:
Of course, the First Amendment only prohibits Congress (and via incorporation via the 14th Amendment, the several States) from abridging speech. In the same way that “freedom of the press is reserved to those who own one” people face practical limitations on what they can say and when they can say it because of economic relationships.
The Dixie Chicks are free to bash President Bush but country radio stations are free to stop playing their records and country music fans are free to stop buying their albums and paying to attend their concerts. Isaiah Washington and Michael Richards are free to say what they want about gays and African Americans but they’re not immune from the economic consequences that follow.
My thought is that, contrary to the suggestions of justifiably outraged conservatives that these women “shut up and play,” I’m ok with them continuing to openly spew their stupid “we hate Bush” nonsense – even if it is on foreign soil – because it reflects a lot more negatively on them than it does the President. And the fact that after all this time, with as unpopular as Bush is, that there is still a significant amount of outrage expressed when he’s insulted on foreign soil shows me that the 33% of people out there who still support him are loud and proud and aren’t afraid to push back against petty puerile protests made from pampered pinheads acting as “amabassadors” of sorts on the international stage for the hate-Bush anti-war left in this country.