It’s been reported both in the Globe and Mail and the National Post that Dick Cheney is too scared to return to Canada because of the risk of violent protest. The Globe and Mail article</a> seems to have most of the facts right, but the National Post</a> has a few facts wrong.
First of all, the front door of the Vancouver Club was blocked off by peaceful protesters, while the more militant protesters formed a human chain on the sidewalk at the back door. I was asked to participate, but given the fact that I’m the primary source of income for my family, I decided that it would be a bad idea to get arrested protesting a former vice-president. Dick Cheney is a piece of shit, but he’s just not worth getting arrested over.
Now, there were police but they weren’t really in full riot gear. They did have their gloves, and they did clear the sidewalk, but they didn’t have their masks or their shields when they cleared the sidewalk and forced the people to clear the way for the Globe and Mail reporters who attended, such as Sunny Dhillon and Rod Mickleburgh, both of whom I recognized on Twitter. I have to admit that I enjoyed watching them get hassled. I’m perfectly fine with Free Speech, but I also like to see people I don’t really like have to work for their paycheque.
I missed out on the choking incident because I was on the other side of the Vancouver Club from where the choking happened, and I had a large CSIS ATIP waiting for me at home, and I figured that going through the ATIP and publishing it was worth my time more than yelling “Arrest Cheney” with the rest of the crowd. It was also getting late, since the protest officially started at 5 pm. Now, the thing is that other than the 9/11 conspiracy theorist guy who is frankly very scary, I didn’t see anyone actually be violent, other than the guests and the police.
If you’ve ever gone to any major Anti-War protest in Vancouver, it was basically that crowd. They stood there for hours, they didn’t harm anyone, and they didn’t provoke any violent response other than that 9/11 guy. I’m glad that I was one of the evil protesters who scared Cheney off, but I do think that the press is exaggerating the threat a bit.
BTW: People protesting right wing assholes isn’t a Free Speech issue. You have the right to free speech, not the right to not be interrupted, shouted down or disrupted. Ideas and people can fight it out in public as much as they want. The issue comes when Governments promote their one view over others and use the monopoly of force to shut down any dissenting view. The only reason people thought that Cheney shouldn’t have the right to speak is because there shouldn’t be different laws for the elite and a different set for everyone else, and under International Law, Cheney is a War Criminal. As Orwell said, “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”