I’ve got no official position on whether protesters should stay or go; that’s up to them. I’m sitting in front of a keyboard typing stuff. They’re risking arrest every day. And crowd control, how many people it is safe to have inside, that’s a different question. But the pictures of the locks and the scanners and the dogs, the sound of the chanting from outside, “Let us in,” that boils my blood. This house was open. This house rang with joy and enthusiasm and speech of all kinds. You could walk up to this house and if the door was open you could go inside. It threatened no one. It harmed nothing. Fewer arrests have been made there than at your average football game. My First Draft colleague, Scout, was there last night and has been there the past two weeks (the video up there is hers and all the rest are here), and calls this “the most gosh-darn nicest protest ever.”
There was no “free speech zone.” People were everywhere. That was the point. The whole place was a free speech zone. The whole world is a free speech zone. People like to bag on Madison’s political history and liberal culture and act like it’s ridiculous. The idea of walling people off into a little area where they can act out the ideals we used to enjoy all over my country tis of thee the United States of America is what’s ridiculous. And it took being in a place, seeing a place, where that wasn’t the case for it to really hit me how absolutely insane it is that Wisconsin isn’t everywhere, that we aren’t all in a free speech zone all the time.
This house was open. This house was everybody’s, belonged to anybody who opened the door that day, anybody who could come and stay. And Governor Walker locked it down. Locked it away. Bolted it shut. They’re rifling through purses now, scanning briefcases. You have to take off your coat to come in. You have to wait in line.