The following editorial appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer Thursday, Feb. 2:

One fallen soldier’s mother received a standing ovation at the U.S. Capitol, but another’s was hauled away by police at President Bush’s State of the Union.

Was it right to remove Cindy Sheehan, whose past vigils outside the Bush house in Crawford, Texas, raised the pressure to bring American troops home from Iraq?

Sheehan’s crime: She wore a T-shirt, which read “2,245 Dead. How Many More?”

Since a Republican lawmaker’s wife was tossed from the same event for wearing a “Support the Troops” T-shirt, it appears that Capitol police were equal-opportunity stiflers of free expression. But why was either action needed?

Sheehan’s arrest Tuesday night stood in stark contrast to the respect accorded most women known as Gold Star mothers – those who have lost a child in combat. Given Sheehan’s son died in Iraq, she didn’t deserve treatment so unequal to that given the president’s guests: the mother, father and widow of slain Staff Sgt. Daniel Clay.

With Bush speaking so eloquently of defending freedom by combating terrorism, Sheehan should have been allowed to stage her low-key protest. Bearing silent witness would have been no worse than the noisy objections to some Bush remarks by Democrats in the chamber.

Police understandably are on edge whenever any demonstration occurs in the presence of the president, but they didn’t have to arrest Sheehan. The incident, though, will likely boost her cause.


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