C-Span this morning interviewed a fellow named Mark Pasquale. He’s a Boston native, a middle class guy, a small business owner. He lives in Boston’s North End, a quaint neighborhood of European immigrants and narrow, winding streets. Like many other struggling entrepreneurs, he had been looking forward to the big convention. He had hired extra help and had made contingency plans for everything from bathroom service to plenty of clean glasses for beer. He is a Republican and Bush supporter, but hey, money is money, and good people can set aside partisan politics to have a beer and some pizza. That’s what his business is, a pizza shop located just across the street from the FleetCenter.
Then, he learned that he wouldn’t have any customers after all. Delegates will eat at private parties, rather than mingle with the common folk. The unprecedentedly tight security measures, it turned out, would even force temporary closings of some local businesses altogether. After discovering that he had no way to fight the system, or even to be sure he could open at all, he let the extra help go before their first day of work, cancelled all the contingency plans, and put up a sign of protest that said, “’'Say!!! DNC!!! Thanks for Nothing! Go Bush!”
Now, you would think, unless you are a blindly incorrigible partisan, that the Democrats — beacons of the middle class, whose presidential candidate is himself a veritable idol for protestors everywhere, and whose vice-presidential candidate proclaims himself the champion of the little guy — would rise up in unison and defend Mr. Pasquale’s right to protest. You would think that Michael Moore could tear himself away from an all-you-can-eat buffet long enough to share his kindergarten understanding of the First Amendment. But no, to add insult to injury, a local bureaucrat was dispatched to issue Mr. Pasquale a citation for “hanging an unlicensed banner” on the building that he owns. Oh, and just for good measure, the same bureaucrat cited him for blocking an egress with his sign because, you see, its bottom flap hangs down over the top of an unused side door.
Pasquale has given up. He’s not only getting the hell out of Dodge, he’s going to Canada. He’s going to play some golf while the DNC carries out Kerry’s coronation. He’s leaving the sign up, though, and says he doesn’t give a rat’s ass how much they fine him for it. He is the son of immigrants who came to America for the freedom to work and succeed. He’s going to express his opinion even if it costs him. Maybe Elton John will send flowers, or some Hollywood stars will hold press conferences to express their outrage, or Linda Ronstadt will make a personal appearance to show her solidarity with someone whose politics might not be like hers but whose spirit is.
But then again, probably not.