a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

Freedom of speech in Ole Virginny

Posted by Thomas Nephew on October 4th, 2005

Perhaps based on the premise that he was in the United States, Pakistani-American and former Air Force service member Tariq Khan decided to test the proposition that he could safely protest against Pentagon recruiters at George Mason University. He taped a small sign to his chest with words to the effect “Recruiters Lie,” and stood next to a recruiting table. I hope that even pro-war advocates will agree that what followed was dangerous and shameful:

A JC operations representative arrived on the scene to tell Tariq that as a student, he had no right to voice his opinion without a permit, and that he must leave. Tariq defended his right to stand there, peaceably, and the operations staff-member called campus police. While waiting for their arrival, the ROTC guy returned to rip Tariq’s sign off of his person and throw it in the trash.

Witnesses report that the responding police officer physically assaulted Tariq next to the stage in the JC, putting him in a headlock, choking him, and then proceeding to throw him against the stage. The entire time, Tariq announced, and witnesses concur, that he was being non-violent and not resisting. Eventually he was put in cuffs and taken away by two Mason police officers.

Via Facing South. I have a certain sympathy for Khan’s belief that he shouldn’t require a permit to peaceably speak his mind at the most useful location to do so.

Additional details appear to demonstrate racism and a general lack of clarity by some ROTC and police personnel about what it is that they’re supposed to defend. (Hint: not a recruiting table.) George Mason University’s President Merten’s office can be reached at 703-993-8700, and the university provides a comment form with which visitors can share their thoughts about the contemptible institution it is.

One Response to “Freedom of speech in Ole Virginny”

  1. » Blog Archive » Department of followups: vanishing civil liberties edition Says:

    […] Freedom of speech in ole Virginny, October 4, 2005 — We can all breathe easy: George Mason University student (and Air Force veteran) Tariq Khan will not face charges for being roughed up by university police after he peacefully protested against military recruiting on campus. The Washington Post’s Tom Jackman reported (November 15, 2005): Fairfax County prosecutors yesterday dropped charges against a George Mason University student who was arrested by campus police in September while protesting military recruiting at the school. […]

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