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Ear to the Ground

Bridge Protest Leaves U.S. Team Vulnerable

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Posted on Nov 14, 2007
bridge players
nytimes.com

The bridge world is in an absolute tizzy over a protest by the world champion U.S. women’s team, which held up a sign during its victory celebration in Shanghai last month that read: “We did not vote for Bush.” Some bridge fans have accused the group of treason, and the United States Bridge Federation—whatever the hell that is—has decided that its authority trumps free speech, a value some people vaguely remember associating with America.

While there are many villains in this story, many of them predictably stodgy and full of themselves, the French players have heroically backed their American rivals, who, they said, “were doing only what women of the world have always tried to do when opposing the folly of men who have lost their perspective of reality.”

The suggested punishment for these poor women, who say they were only responding to questions about torture and Iraq from their international colleagues, is beyond unreasonable, as you can read below.

While there’s something inherently humorous about a brouhaha of this magnitude over a bridge tournament, there’s also something truly appalling about an organization that claims to represent the United States in the eyes of the world seeking retribution over an act of dissent—particularly one that holds the majority opinion.

As for us bridge players in the Truthdig offices, we stand with the French.


New York Times:

Three players—Hansa Narasimhan, JoAnna Stansby and Jill Meyers—have expressed regret that the action offended some people. The federation has proposed a settlement to [team captain Gail] Greenberg and the three other players, Jill Levin, Irina Levitina and [Debbie] Rosenberg, who have not made any mollifying statements.

It calls for a one-year suspension from federation events, including the World Bridge Olympiad next year in Beijing; a one-year probation after that suspension; 200 hours of community service “that furthers the interests of organized bridge”; and an apology drafted by the federation’s lawyer.

It would also require them to write a statement telling “who broached the idea of displaying the sign, when the idea was adopted, etc.”

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By 1drees, December 1, 2007 at 7:31 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

From a Neutral view the women did nothing wrong , i mean its notlike she held a protest or held up a well printed sign with a message, indicating an advanced and organised preparation for this. instead it was a just a hand scribelled card maybe,  its Basically nothing.

BUT .......

If the Martial Law regime wants to make a BIG DEAL OUT OF IT they can go to any lenghts quoting their laws and standards.

HOWEVER I side with the WOMEN and might have done something similar or maybe i have done many similar things and I would SIDE with the women who just stated a fact about herself or themself and nothing more, it was not professing a policy or unleashing propaganda or any thing like that

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By Scott Knowles, November 19, 2007 at 6:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As to, “....says they broke no rule.  How do you know?  I’m sure somewhere in the fine print is a statement on conduct and behavior…”

If they had broken any rule in their agreement as a member of the USBF, the USBF would have immediately disciplined them and the USBF would have apologized to the tournanment. The USBF attacked the women and the statement than the act itself. If the act was against USBF rules they could have used that to take actions against the women. They didn’t.

That more than suggests no such rule exists. And because the women didn’t tarnish the reputation of the USBF (did their statement say anything about the USBF?) nor their host or any country for that matter, even the US and our President, any punishment would be sujective as not explicitly defined in the rules.. They made a simple statement. The interpretation of it as political is individual and not universal.

Last I heard, both right to make a statement and the intrepration of any statement are human and American values. And I gotta say the comment about publicity is right. Any PR person will tell you it’s about publicity, good or bad, and it’s all good down the road, only except to the extreme.

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By P. T., November 18, 2007 at 8:32 pm Link to this comment

“When you are a guest in a foreign country it is rude to subject the host and other guests to your political opinions or any other opinions that place the host or guests in an awkward position.”


I haven’t seen any complaints from the hosts or other guests.  These women were sent to China to win the tournament for the United States Bridge Federation.  Mission accomplished.

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By P. T., November 18, 2007 at 8:20 pm Link to this comment

“A military fly-over at a ball game is not a political statement”


Actually, a paean to militarism is highly political.

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By The Village Idiot, November 18, 2007 at 10:12 am Link to this comment

The Bridge “Federation” owes those women a lot. How many people, thanks directly to their little sign, found out for the first time that a Bridge Federation exists? There are several just within these comments, but they are not being thanked for the free publicity (after the ruckus dies down, I bet they pick up some more members).

But, if you are a member of a group that gets together to play games, whether with cards or dice or little statues named Oscar or round chunks of olympic gold, make sure you leave all of life’s problems and concerns at the door so as not to offend the sensibilities of other gamers. Never mind hundreds of thousands of dead in the Iraq war, the imploding economy, eroding rights at home, and the possible breaking down of civilization that all the saber-rattling with Iran may be a prelude to. No, put all that out of your mind as if the world’s problems were just another game, safely compartmentalized with it’s own schedule of Right and Wrong times for discussion; it’s just rude to talk about Chess at a Monopoly tournament, or to protest Bridge tournament results at an Iraq war press briefing.

I think more people are starting to do this kind of thing because they’re sensing that there might not be a world capable of sustaining Bridge tournaments much longer; at some point all other concerns fade to insignificance next to the prospect of the fabric of society unraveling, and each person has a slightly different threshold for being at that point.

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By reason, November 18, 2007 at 7:34 am Link to this comment

While I am not sure of the womens intentions when they decided to act as they did, I believe they were within their rights guaranteed by the Constitution to make their statement.
  The USBF is the governing body of the team not the individuals. Do members give up their rights as American Citizens to be allowed to participate? (I don’t think so and, even if they did it would not be a legaly binding stipulation.)
  Over the last 15 years (or more) the citizens of this country have been lied to, manipulated and, intimidated by an oppressive and dictatorial succession of administrations, corporations and career beaurocrats. The Bush administration has demonstrated little if any regard for the rule of law. Anytime someone has challenges him he just re-defines a word or inserts his interpretation.
  What these women seem to have done was speak out there disapproval to the largest audience possible. It is their statement about how this country is being run and who is to blame. I applaud their action and I am sure it took some courage.

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By Dennis Gallagher, November 18, 2007 at 3:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When you are a guest in a foreign country it is rude to subject the host and other guests to your political opinions or any other opinions that place the host or guests in an awkward position.  Anything those women might have done or said in this country upon their return would have been perfectly ok.  If the U.S. Bridge federation is paying all expenses for these women to go to China to play bridge the very least they can do is say thanks and shut up.

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By David Strang, November 17, 2007 at 8:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

One last comment.  Some of you are confused about the difference between patriotism and politics.  A military fly-over at a ball game is not a political statement, (unless they’re not ours).  It is merely a patriotic gesture at an entertainment event, not an awards ceromony.  The hockey team with the flag was a celebration of patriotism, not a political statement.  An easy way to tell, is political statements will most likely be negative to one part of the audience and positive to others.  They are devisive by nature.  Patriotism, (should not) offend anyone and is a celebration of just being American, ie Fourth of July fireworks.  Had these women held American flags in hand, I doubt there would be any sanctions.  The point is, they represented more than just themselves on that stage and many Americans find them an embarassment.

Scott says they broke no rule.  How do you know?  I’m sure somewhere in the fine print is a statement on conduct and behavior.  Why didn’t they ask a USBF official before-hand if the sign was ok?  They probably got asked about OJ too, so why not a sign saying they didn’t do it or something like that?  They were not there to answer political questions.

Another trumpet call I hear is “Freedom of Speech”.  They fully excersized their freedeom.  No one arrested them.  It is not the government who is sanctioning them. The 1st admentment only applies to the government, not private voluntary organizations.  The USBF has every right to tell them exactly what to say and not say during its events.  These ladies voluntarily belong to the USBF.  As members they have to behave and conduct themselves in accepted manner.  Most organizations limit its members speech and conduct while they are reprsenting that orginization.  Members always have the right to quit the org. if we don’t like it.

My dad was a Rotarian.  They had a strict rule about not mentioning your business or place of employment at meetings.  Members who broke the rule paid a fine.  Gross/repeated violations could result in expulsion.  Its the rules they as a group wanted.  Apparently, the majority of USBF members do not want any politicalization of thier tournaments. All members must abide or pay the price.  Simple as that.

One last thing, like these women, I didn’t vote for Bush either, just in case anyone wondered.

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By Scott Knowles, November 16, 2007 at 6:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In response to David Strang’s comment, “As for the Olympic protest mentioned, I found that despicable.  Again, if the athlete(s) wanted to make a politcal statement (protest), they could have done so at a press conference instead of disgracing the National Anthem.  With the right to protest comes the responsibility to do so respectfully.  People can ignore that responsibility, but look the fool in doing so, as did these women.”, that’s the beauty of America. It’s called free speech.

I personally watched the track and field events in the ‘68 Olympics and watched John Carlos and Tommie Smith stand on the podium and raise the their black-gloved fist(s). I thought it was a profound and important jesture, and agreed with their view of the situation for blacks in America. I still think the same way, as I applaud the USBF winners for their expression.

No one complained when members of the US hockey team wrappred themselves in the flag after beating the Soviet team. I also agreed with that jesture too. America is about us all, all the good, bad and ugly and power of the individual. Carlos and Smith didn’t denigrate America by boycotting the ceremony or expressing hate toward anyone. They expressed a personal view and value at an opertune moment, and became part of history.

Even if the USBF women had held a press conference, I doubt the USBF would have changed their decisions of their expressed personal views because they were at the tournament in China. These women were barraged with questions about America during the tournament and they answered. Others who didn’t win answered with button or their voice in conversation. The winners choose the podium.

Would anyone have complained if the women wore little American flags on the lapels? I doubt it. Or if they said something, verbal or with a sign, that indicated support for Bush and his war? I doubt that too. And I doubt the USBF would have acted as they did. As said, they didn’t break any USBF or tournament rules or protocols. They only offended some people with the statement. So, if you must, argue the statement, not the person.

And that’s hard to do since it only said who they voted for, and not anything for or against Bush. Merely, they didn’t vote for him.  Last I heard it’s still freedom of speech.

And if they had held a press conference after returning home? Would any of the press attend simply to hear another anti-Bush or anti-war voice? After all at least 60% of Americans now think the war in Iraq is wrong, and over 70% don’t approve of Bush’s handling of it or of almost anything else he’s been doing. That sure sounds like the majority talking.

And it’s one thing to protest America, as we’ve seen around the world, it’s another to protest the decisions and actions of American politicians, especially the President. That’s fair and legitimate. And protests are as old as our nation. It’s not new, just the person and the reason.

After, let’s not forget this country was founded on protest against a tyrant. And it was founded on freedom of speech without the caveat of who, when or where. Only subsequent laws in the interest of public safety have restricted this freedom and legal contracts in the name of diplomacy or representation. None applied in this case.

And for what it’s worth, having protested throughout my life, I’ve always accepted the consequences of my actions, and I have never asked for nor wanted sympathy fron anyone for my actions. I think the USBF women did the same.

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By P. T., November 15, 2007 at 10:01 pm Link to this comment

Super Bowl games have military jet flyovers, and no one jumps up and down about that being inappropriate.

If these women were questioned about Bush at the tournament, understandably they did not want themselves and all Americans tainted with his criminal behavior.

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By David Strang, November 15, 2007 at 7:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“I’m curious….regarding your first point: EXACTLY when and where is the “place” for protest…?”

Not during a ceremony to honor their victory.  If they wanted to make a political statement, they could have held a press conference after they left the awards ceremony.

I did not comment on the punishment, because I am not a member.  While I do find the terms severe, (a reprimand and maybe a short suspension seems appropriate), I am amazed by the almost hysterical politicalization of this in some comments.

These ladies knew there would be fall-out.  Whether there is a specific rule in place or not, they knew it was not appropriate.  They acted like children, hoping to grab a bit of popularity with an international crowd.  I’m sure the Federation’s action would be the same no matter whose name was on the sign.  If I were to post an entire blog on the behavior of basketball coaches in this forum, I am sure the moderator would censor it.  Why?  It has no place here.  Just like their sign.  It had no place at a bridge tournament awards ceremony.  Protest, yes!, but in the correct place and time.  If you went to a politcal debate and a candidate started talking about bridge techniques, it would be just as out of place.  People need to use common sense. They cheapened their own victory by politicizing it and showed disrespect for the other members.  I’ll grant you the USBF over-reacted, but these women knew better.

As for the Olympic protest mentioned, I found that despicable.  Again, if the athlete(s) wanted to make a politcal statement (protest), they could have done so at a press conference instead of disgracing the National Anthem.  With the right to protest comes the responsibility to do so respectfully.  People can ignore that responsibility, but look the fool in doing so, as did these women.

As for my statement to either quit or try to make change within the organization, what other alternatives are there?  Sue?  That solves nothing.  If the membership of USBF does not like the leadership or it’s policies, then replace them and set new policy.  If these women choose to remain members, then they must accept the terms.  Hogwash?  It’s their choice, just like the choice to hold up the sign.  Actions have consequenses.  They get no sympathy from me.

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By Scott Knowles, November 15, 2007 at 1:57 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In response to David Strang. One could and would agree with the statement members follow the rules of the organization, except the USBF does not have a rule prohibiting what these women did. They didn’t violate any specific rule, just conduct unfitting to the reputation of the USBF. And no one at the USBF has said what would have happened if they had held up a sign reading, “We did vote for Bush.” So it may be a simple double standard in that the USBF board didn’t like what they read, not the act itself.

I did get and engage one member of the board in a series of e-mails where they explained their position. The key to me is they simply over-reacted and it blew out of proportion and control. All the had to do was three easy and simple things.

First, take the women aside to discuss the matter, listen to their side and express displeasure at the act. Since they have not broken any rule, do not reprimand them in any way.

Second, do not apologize and issue a statement saying it was an act of personal expression and not the view of the USBF. That’s all, a neutral statement of diplomacy.

Third, send a letter to members that new rules will be presented for approval where future acts of this nature could result in penalities of disbarment from international tournaments for a period of time.

I asked if that was so hard to understand. While the USBF blamed the women, they forgot to realize they created the publicity of it with their actions. If they had not done that, they issue would be an interesting, humorous story and fade into the distance.

I personally applaud what the women did as they were reacting to a lot of questions from other non-US people at the tournament. They shouldn’t address the questions of the USBF until the USBF changes their tune and tone.

And by the way, does anyone remember John Carlos in the 1968 Olympics? So what’s the difference? None, both were acts of personal conscience bravely expressed. In the end, the USBF will realize they lost the issue when they opened their mouth. Silence and a simple statement would have defused the whole incident.

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By Ann Adams, November 15, 2007 at 10:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

At least these ladies won their contest without the aid of partisan judges.

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By Evan Kime, November 15, 2007 at 9:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I can’t explain exactly what gets me so fired up but this is infuriating.  This shit has got to stop.  If their argument is that their sponsors will pull support, then there is a response to that.  Who are your sponsors?  Lets have a talk with them about boycotts of their products. 

We may not have been able to take down the country music radio stations and recording industry in 2003 but we sure as hell could get a message through to the United States Bridge Federation in 2007/2008.


I wrote the “Board” an email, attached below.  Their email address is .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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By P. T., November 15, 2007 at 9:46 am Link to this comment

The United States Bridge Federation hates our freedom.

For their community service that advances bridge, the women could help Code Pink with their bridge games, a little R & R after a hard day of protesting.

People don’t play bridge the way they used to.  My grandmother played all the time.  My mom used to play.  She said my uncle nearly got kicked out of college because he sat around in the dorms playing bridge instead of studying.  I haven’t played in years.  I think people don’t play because of TV and all the home entertainment gadgets.

You can complain to the federation at:  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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Outraged's avatar

By Outraged, November 15, 2007 at 8:12 am Link to this comment

Re: #113641 by David Strang on 11/14

“There is a time and a place for protest, they simply chose the wrong venue….....If the members don’t like it, quit or work within the organization to change the policy.”

David:

I’m curious….regarding your first point: EXACTLY when and where is the “place” for protest…?

Also, your second point sounds like an “our way or the highway proposition”.  In addition, you say “work within the organization to change the policy”.  Which implies a coordinated attempt to “usurp” the organizational policy.  Basically, that’s hogwash.  They scribbled a sign on the back of a menu and the ORGANIZATION made a federal case out of it.  Although I see you haven’t addressed the fact that the ORGANIZATION, by their actions are making a more MONUMENTAL political statement than these women did.  The women gave THEIR views, which is inexplicable.  Wherein the ORGANIZATION is speaking volumes by endorsing a supposed policy of NO FREE SPEECH and anti-democratic issues while representing the US.  They are going to EXTREME measures to “silence” any dissent.  According to the article:

“It calls for a one-year suspension from federation events, including the World Bridge Olympiad next year in Beijing; a one-year probation after that suspension; 200 hours of community service “that furthers the interests of organized bridge”; and an apology drafted by the federation’s lawyer.

It would also require them to write a statement telling “who broached the idea of displaying the sign, when the idea was adopted, etc.”

Alan Falk, a lawyer for the federation, wrote the four team members on Nov. 6, “I am instructed to press for greater sanction against anyone who rejects this compromise offer.”

It certainly appears plain to me that the ORGANIZATION is the one who doesn’t PLAY BY THE RULES!

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By perri, November 15, 2007 at 8:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

They’re, like, the Dixie Chicks of bridge!

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By jimijazz, November 15, 2007 at 8:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Free speech - Bush toadies, FREE SPEECH. Bush and his cronies would like the rest of the world to assume the people of this country are complacent about this war. WE ARE NOT.

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By cyrena, November 15, 2007 at 4:26 am Link to this comment

Well I’ll be. I never even knew there WAS a US Bridge Federation. (and I play bridge). So, ya learn something new every day.

Maybe these ladies should just resign from the membership, and join our Bid Whist Federation. It’s pretty much the same game anyway. Playing ‘decorum” might be a little different…what with the drinking, and table pounding, and card slapping, and trash talking that goes on. But I think it’s way more fun anyway.

So, is this a all female federation, or is it just that all the winners were women? Just curious.

Anyway, yeah…just join the US Bid Whist Federation, and there will be no problems with any signs. (as long as you don’t try to hold them up while your playing for only your partner to see). That could cause a ruckus.

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By P. T., November 15, 2007 at 12:34 am Link to this comment

The solution for the war mongering Bush lackeys is to practice their bridge so they can win the tournaments.

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By David Strang, November 14, 2007 at 7:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

These women are voluntary members of this organization.  Upon joining, they agreed to abide by the orginization’s rules.  They used this ceremony to violate those rules.  The organization has the right to impose sanctions.  This has nothing to do with government censorship, Bush nor Cheney.

There is a time and a place for protest, they simply chose the wrong venue.  Yes, legally they are within their constitutional rights, but it was not a public political forum.  The sponsors have the right to dictate content.  If the members don’t like it, quit or work within the organization to change the policy.

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By Jan Martel, November 14, 2007 at 7:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Let the US Bridge Foundation know what you think at:

Postal Address
      1511 Portola Street
CA 95616 Davis
Telephone
      +1-530-758 4088
Fax
      +1-901-398 7754
Email
      .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
      .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Web site
      http://www.usbf.org/

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, November 14, 2007 at 7:08 pm Link to this comment

Shades of Sally Fields.

One works their whole life to achieve a certain level and bask in the fabled 15 minutes of fame just to be told what and what not to say.

Just another straw to break the peoples back.

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By QuyTran, November 14, 2007 at 7:05 pm Link to this comment

Me neither !

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By purplewolf, November 14, 2007 at 6:02 pm Link to this comment

If anyone should be held accountable for an act of treason lets start with the biggest perpetrators first. Come on down George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. We all know that George Bush has put up gag orders in the past and his biggest rule of law last July to ban all protesters of his Iraq quagmire. He and his minions have destroyed the Bill of Rights and the Constitution of this country, so the free speech clause we once had is in question. However, all Americans who have been tarnished by this administration should have the right to defend ourselves against the hostilities and ill will which BushCo have created in the world, as only those who voted for them and allowed the stolen elections to go uncorrected should be the target of these feelings from the outside world. Like the ” Don"t blame me, I voted for Kerry,” bumper stickers and pins, it is our right as an American, last time I checked anyway, we still were able to speak what we felt,though it is getting harder all the time in this country to say anything without some immature person getting bent out of shape.

The penalty is ridiculous to even consider. I think the other comment posted here about the sign,“go f-ck yourself,“should be the next sign these women hold up.

Remember:

DISSENT IS THE HIGHEST FORM OF PATRIOTISM-Howard Zinn

A PATRIOT MUST BE READY TO DEFEND HIS COUNTRY AGAINST HIS GOVERNMENT-Edward Abbey

For all the idiots out there who think that these women did an unspeakable no-no, grow up. If we can no longer have the few rights left that Bush so far hasn’t destroyed ask yourself: Why are we really fighting for in Iraq as we all know it cannot be to bring the gift of fredom to these people, especially since from the start of this mess Bush has continued to take away our freedoms and rights here at home.

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By Scott Knowles, November 14, 2007 at 4:54 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I guess I was less diplomatic to the USBF in my e-mail:

Dear Board of the USBF,

I’m outraged at your treatment of the American team who won the Venice Cup at the World Bridge Championship in Shanghai, China. You owe them an apology for your actions. They didn’t express anything derogatory against anyone, especially President Bush, or any policy of Bush, but they simply stated who the voted for in the recent presidental elections.

And folks, last I heard America is about dissent and free speech. Not just what speech you like or agree with, but any speech, even if it offends you. That’s what America stands for, the right of every citizen to express their views and opinions.  You should be apologizing to them for your actions and the derogatory words of members who disagreed with them. Did you discipline any other members at the event with similar expressons, like buttons or signs, or worse their voice?

They were being Americans. What don’t you understand about that? And I for one as an American and a veteran, who served so they could have free speech, support them. And maybe I should carry as sign about the USBF’s bullying tactics? You can’t sanction or suppress me. And you can bet I will let others know, as others have let others know, and we can express our view about your actions. Last I heard, it’s call free speech.

———-

But then I’m a child of the 60’s, and somehow this reminds me of then and the then anti-war voices.  The power structure didn’t win then except in futile efforts to silence the majority. Didn’t I hear 60+% of Americans think the war in Iraq is wrong? So weren’t they expressing the view of most Americans?

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By Paula, November 14, 2007 at 4:54 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am just SAD….. oh, and PISSED!

How dare freedom of speech come with “buts or ifs” etc…....if it aint free, then it aint free….as far as I can tell - USBF - it’s still free!  Are you ALL crazy!?  Lost your mind?  Where the hell do you live?  China? Saudi Arabia?  North Korea? Maybe you should move there and leave our freedoms alone if you don’t appreciate them!.............wow!!!! 

Wow!  I encourage everyone to call the USBF they have loads of numbers on their website.
http://www.acbl.org/about/departments.html

-P

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By faith, November 14, 2007 at 4:18 pm Link to this comment

jonswift is right on point.  You do sound a lot like Mike of M from Huffpo, by the way.

This is actually a very serious issue.  Our Constitution provided that we do have the right to free speech.  Here, it was not harmful or incendiary.  It was a statement of their positions against this current administration.  Just.  Honest.  Honorable.  That is more than I can say for congress.

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By reason, November 14, 2007 at 4:14 pm Link to this comment

It seems to me this is what real courage is. I applaud their act and suggest the “World Bridge Federation” take a “flying leap!!!!!

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By vet240, November 14, 2007 at 3:22 pm Link to this comment

This was a truely heartening act. I am proud of thier courage to take a stand. This was an act of patriotism. Bravo!

Just last night the Facist Glen Beck tried to imply that the supporters of Ron Paul may be tied to terrorism!

I find that the supporters of Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich and in some ways Gov. Richardson are simply Americans who are starting to demand that the Gevernment turn away from the influence of the multi-national corporations and the Military/industrial complex and turn back to representing the people!

The madness of the decision to Pre-emptively attack Iraq will be burned into the history of the world as THE greatest FUBAR of all time. FUBAR? F—ked up beyond all recognition.

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By Eric L Prentis, November 14, 2007 at 2:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Who are the tyrants running the US Bridge Federation that came up with the crazy punishment for people simply expressing their opinion. The US in the eyes of the US Bridge Federation no longer believes in free speech but instead comes down on the side of censorship and fascism.

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By The Village Idiot, November 14, 2007 at 12:45 pm Link to this comment

They called it “treason?” Wow, the threshold for betraying one’s country has sure been lowered. Apparently lying to the entire population to start a war is fine and dandy but one person holding a small sign stating a personal opinion (must’ve known they’d get the Sally Field treatment if they tried to actually SPEAK) is a capital offense? The sign even said “We” so it was clearly their own opinions and not those of the Bridge Federation (which should probably be broken back up into Bridge States, sheesh). At least they have a way to pass their time in Guantanamo…

Anyhow, we should all carry a sign like theirs at all times so that if we ever find ourselves in front of a news camera we can slip in a whopping SIX WORDS that haven’t been pre-approved for broadcast. Then, of course, it’s off to the firing squad with ye!

I think it’s rather telling that people are resorting to hit-and-run tactics like holding up signs at events or making political statements during award acceptance speeches. Apparently, these people believe that it’s what they have to do to be heard. Why is that, I wonder?

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By thomas billis, November 14, 2007 at 12:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If the sign had said “we voted for Bush"would the punishment have been the same.Is it the sign or the politicization.If the rule is “no politicization"at an international event then I support it.If it is because they dissented than I think waterboarding is in order for the ruling body.

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By sharon ash, November 14, 2007 at 11:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Good to know we still have Americans who are willing to be profiles in courage.  And, pox on the U.S. Bridge Federation!

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By P. T., November 14, 2007 at 10:28 am Link to this comment

Let the United States Bridge Federation know what you think about its bullying of these women.  Send e-mail to: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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By Frikken Kids, November 14, 2007 at 9:56 am Link to this comment

They should show up to their hearing and hold up a sign written on the back of a menu.  They should point it at the people in charge, and it should read “Go f*ck yourselves!”

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By michael j hassett, November 14, 2007 at 9:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Think about it USBF - are you really punishing “conduct unbecoming a member”, or conduct you deem unbecoming an American? If the latter, you may have a point but is it really the Federation’s role to enforce patriotism? From As Good As News post Small Slam http://michaeljamesh.blogspot.com/2007/11/small-slam.html

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By Annette, November 14, 2007 at 9:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  This is the email address for the “Administrative Assistant par excellence” of the United States Bridge Federation.  Maybe she can answer the question of why the organization seeks to punish those who exercise their civil liberties.

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By antispin, November 14, 2007 at 8:54 am Link to this comment

So a statement of benign negativity “we did not vote for Bush” is a bridge too far for these fascists? 

As to jonswift implied promotion for a new law against torture: that would be like a new law against murder.  “Thou *really* shalt not kill.”

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By John, November 14, 2007 at 8:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s absolutely outrageous that these women used this organization and ceremony to express themselves in a way that went far beyond their qualifications :  wearing makeup, tight-fitting clothes, and shoulder-less gowns ..

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By RickinSF, November 14, 2007 at 8:34 am Link to this comment

The W Administration has politicized everything in its’ path. Why should a bridge tournament be immune?

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By Outraged, November 14, 2007 at 8:32 am Link to this comment

These ladies did America a favor by returning at least a little bit of goodwill to the world. Good for them.  They have EVERY right to defend themselves against the accusations being levied upon them by the world because of our crook in chief.  Would the Bush whiners have been crying if they had carried a “support Bush” sign?  That would have also been “political”.

While I’m sure it otherwise would have gone almost unnoticed, once the Bushies heard, there they were, WHINE, WHINE, WHINE.  Bush, his cabal and his backers are the biggest bunch of whiners in the world.  What a crybaby temper tantrum!  Too bad!  No one likes you, Mr Bush, nor do they like anyone in your cabal.  YOU, by your actions caused that, not someone else.  What…?  Don’t they have mirrors in the White House?

Of course, immediately the brown-nosers jumped up. Jim Kirkham, and Robert S. Wolff.  In come the SORE LOSERS.  Poor baby, did you LOSE! HaHaHa.  You losers went right on record, right away, of just how “offended” you were. HaHaHa.  .........Didn’t your mommy tell you BIG BOYS don’t cry…..then of course, there was the sniveling lawyer….HaHaHa…the whole thing sounds like an old Disney animated movie.

If anyone has an email address to post for contacting the federation, I’d appreciate it.

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By Billy, November 14, 2007 at 8:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

People should send emails to the president and the board of the USBF, whose addresses are online at http://usbf.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=97&Itemid=57

Here is what I wrote to the board:

I am very disappointed to read about your proposed actions against the winning womens bridge team due to their political speech.

Several similar instances of political engagement by athletes and competitors leap to mind. Tommie Smith and John Carlos with their fists in the air at the 1968 Olympics. The Red Sox Curt Schilling’s anti-John Kerry activism during the ‘04 election. Regardless of the political viewpoint of these actions, they reflect well on our democracy.

We are fortunate to live in an open society in which everyone is entitled to their views. Where individuals are not punished for their associations.

To the extent that the women’s sign supported that notion of American democracy - showing the world that dissent is part of life here - I think that they provided a valuable service in demonstrating that we are a country of free thinkers and are not merely in lock-step behind a war, a president, or a narrow definition of what it means to be American. Unfortunately, the actions of the USBF are sending the opposite view to an international audience predisposed, especially during the internationally polarizing Bush presidency, to see America as authoritarian and fascistic.

If anyone should be punished for this controversy, it should be those elements of the USBF that have signified to the world that we are an intolerant nation under the grip of a patriotic fervor so overwhelming that dissent cannot be tolerated.

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By originallycredulous, November 14, 2007 at 7:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Anyone who does not believe that it is incumbent upon thinking humans to assert their sense of justice in the face of atrocity is simply an automaton.  These ladies made me very proud of my country for a change.

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By Nor Car, November 14, 2007 at 6:40 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“While I believe in the right to free speech, to me that doesn’t give anyone the right to criticize one’s leader at a foreign venue in a totally nonpolitical event,” he wrote by e-mail.

YES IT DOES!

It gives us the right to criticize him anywhere, anyhow, for anything, for ANY reason!!!

SO WHAT if some were offended? Banning them for a YEAR? Are they nuts? We’ve all gone crazy.

“Tell me who’s Idea it was to destroy democracy with your little 3x5 sign or I’ll water board you somemore”

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By jonswift, November 14, 2007 at 6:14 am Link to this comment

The First Amendment does not give people the right to yell anti-Bush slogans in a crowded theater, or even to talk during the movie at all. If we let a few lady Bridge players criticize the President, it could spread. The next thing you know Democrats in Congress will start opposing the President’s appointments, passing laws against torture or defying him on funding for the Iraq War.
http://jonswift.blogspot.com/2007/11/bridge-too-far.html

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