- The Washington Times - Friday, September 3, 2004

Nobles: Police officers, security personnel and the fine citizens of Boston and New York, for displaying a remarkable degree of professional calm and diligence during two major party conventions.

When terrorists bombed Madrid just before national elections, Americans were faced with the grim reality that al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations would most likely try to disrupt our own political process. Security and tensions were therefore on high alert throughout the major party conventions in Boston and New York. It is hard to judge the success of terrorist-deterrence efforts, since when they work nothing happens. But the fact that “nothing happened” in either Boston or New York is surely a testament to the dedicated service of law-enforcement and security personnel, both of whom were confronted with managing thousands of delegates, hundreds of lawmakers and millions of citizens in two weeklong conventions.

A note of thanks should also go to the citizens of Boston and New York, who saw their regular routines disrupted, but who endured the inconveniences with grace. As with long lines at airport security checkpoints, Americans have shown a remarkable level of patience with anti-terrorist mechanisms that should rightly be described as imperfect.

For unconventional wariness and tolerance, police officers, security personnel and the citizens of Boston and New York are the Nobles of the week.

Knaves: Certain protesters at the Republican National Convention in New York, for doing their very best to make the work of the New York Police Department as hard as possible.

When it became clear that hundreds of thousand of protesters would descend upon New York for the Republican convention, many had fears of a replay of the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, when cops and protesters fought in the streets.

Nothing of that magnitude occurred, though not for lack of trying on some of the protesters’ part. Protesters expressing their outrage have a constitutional right to be, well, ignorant. Displaying a “Vote Republican” sign with a Nazi swastika, accusing President Bush of “savagely raping” women by “stealing” the 2000 election, even promoting the release of John Hinckley, the insane gunman who shot President Reagan, are all part of the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.

But when protesters begin assaulting cops, harassing delegates and engaging in acts of “civil disobedience,” as many did on Tuesday, then they lose constitutional protection. Several times during both President Bush’s and Vice President Dick Cheney’s speeches, protesters interrupted, apparently failing to see the irony of exercising one’s own right to free speech by denying another’s. The NYPD made nearly 1,800 arrests in all during the four-day convention, a time when they should have been focused on preventing acts of terrorism.

For mocking the First Amendment, uncivil protesters at the Republican National Convention are the Knaves of the week.

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