Where's the outrage? That's a question we don't have to ask about the Occupy Nashville arrests. Joining Gov. Bill Haslam's critics today are The Tennessean and the Jackson Sun, with Nashville's daily declaring flatly that the state violated free-speech rights and saying Haslam's explanation "simply doesn't wash."
The editorial asks the obvious question: "Why didn’t state officials try to work with the protesters first, instead of hastily changing the rules for Legislative Plaza, a public site, without following steps required under state law?" Haslam's short media availability yesterday was stopped by his press secretary before we could get to that one.
In her column, Gail Kerr vents about the arrest of the Scene's Jonathan Meador and the insulting refusal of the governor and Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons to admit now that it was wrong.
Governor, your administration is out of control on this thing. You’re talking out of both sides of your mouth. On the one hand, you’ve stopped the arrests and are adhering to a federal court order. On the other, you’re allowing your commissioner of safety to stand by the arrest of a working journalist in violation of the U.S. and state constitutions.
Speaking of the asinine, Kerr's piece includes this excuse that Gibbons mercifully has been keeping under wraps until now: Troopers didn’t believe Meador was a reporter partly because “he was dressed like most of the other protesters.”
We love how both Haslam and Gibbons are fleeing to the refuge of all politicians who have stepped in it. They toss out their vapid talking points. (In case you missed them yesterday, here are Haslam's: 1. “For us, this isn’t about winning a legal argument, OK?” 2. "Our goal is not to remove people from the Plaza. Never has been, never will be. Period. Our goal is to provide a safe environment.") But when they don't like the question, they lawyer up and claim they can't talk because of the pending litigation. They trample all over the freedoms of protesters and journalists, violating a sizeable chunk of the Bill of Rights, then when the inevitable lawsuit is filed, they use it as an excuse to duck accountability. Nice.