Yesterday I experienced 2 instances of Code Pink members engaged in anti-free speech action, and I feel that it is very important that this be addressed. First, a woman approached our group while we were stopped on the street and covered our banner with her sign while shouting "these people are neocons, they're neocons!" The banner read "fuck the troops," which she clearly upset about...but instead of engaging in a dialogue to hear our point of view and express hers, she attempted to prevent our freedom of expression. She was asked a few times why she was opposing free speech at an event that was supposed to be celebrating just that, but all she would say was "these people are neocons, they're all neocons..."
As I was riding the bus home after the protest, a drunk woman was lecturing a 12ish year old boy about how he should be going to church when a lady with a CodePink button next to her began half-yelling at her for doing that, and asked if she went to church drunk. The drunk woman said "who the fuck do you think you are, talking to me like that?" to which the CodePink woman did not respond. A few minutes later, a woman with a young girl said, we'll go get some fries when we get home...the CodePink lady looked at her and said "fries aren't food." She told her that they were a treat and the CodePink woman said "oh...well, okay."
The CodePink woman, the woman with the young girl, and myself all got off the bus at the same stop to wait for another bus, so I asked the CodePink woman about the lady I had encountered at the protest. She seemed puzzled about the story I told her, but when I said that I was marching in the black bloc, she said "oh, well that's because we don't agree with what you do." This was the last civil statement she made. She began screaming about how we are "a bunch of spoiled brats who think [we] can throw a tantrum whenever we want and everyone should stop and listen to us." I asked her to please not make ageist statements, and she said something along the lines of "I am agist, I don't care. Your generation doesn't understand blah blah blah..." When I asked her why she should be able to demonstrate freely for her cause while I should not, she yelled "You don't have a cause." The entire time this was going on (about 5 minutes) I was continually asking her to please talk instead of yelling, as the young girl was becoming visibly upset by all of this. She refused, and when the girl finally began crying I left and walked home out of respect for her and her mother.
The refusal of both of these women to engage in any sort of meaningful dialogue can mean only one of two things, the way I see it - either they are too dogmatic learn the reasoning behind different viewpoints, or they are not informed enough to carry on such a conversation...and I would like to believe that it is not the latter. Both of these women seem to feel that theirs is the only correct stance on the issue, and that all others should be silenced, be they extreme right or anarchist. They preach but don't listen. This is the same egocentric/classist standpoint that our government has taken, and it is a dangerous one. We will never see change as long as those who wish for it are divided and continue to alienate one another. I urge the women of CodePink to please be more open-minded, and look to dialogue rather than dogmatism for success.
If either of the women mentioned here is reading this, please email me and maybe we can get some coffee and talk.