7 unforgettable moments in political heckling
The first lady dispatched the protester, who urged the Obama administration to take a stronger stand on LGBT equality, by threatening to leave the event. The rest of the crowd, in turn, adidas maniaadidas outlet shouted down the protester and urged the first lady to stay and finish her remarks.Michelle Obama confronts heckler at fundraiserBut not every heckling episode ends as quickly or proceeds as cleanly. Some have completely overshadowed the event itself, resurfacing again and again in press reports and frequently crowding out the purpose of the event in the first place.Others have dragged on for what seems like an eternity, yielding some painfully awkward moments for the people onstage who just want to finish their remarks and leave, thank you very much and the heckling protesters, who almost always continue shouting even as they’re dragged unceremoniously from the room.The outburst of a heckler can be one of the most exhilarating elements of spontaneity in the frequently over scripted and canned events that usually constitute modern American political stagecraft.Spontaneous, however, isn’t always pretty.Here’s a look at some recent hecklers who have gained national and sometimes international attention, as they said their piece, propriety be damned.President Obama laid out the future of America’s war on terror during a speech at the National Defense University on May 23, 2012, he touted two big policy changes that were undertaken, in part, to soothe the concerns of anti war civil liberties activists: A renewed push to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and new restrictions on America’s use of unmanned drones to strike terrorists overseas.One such activist in the crowd, Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, was apparently not impressed.Toward the end of the president’s speech, as he was about to detail the next steps in Guantanamo’s closure, Benjamin erupted in an angry tirade, interrupting the president for roughly seven minutes before she was ejected from the room.Obama: America at a “crossroads” in fighting terrorismShould President Obama end the war on terror?”You are commander in chief, you can close Guantanamo today,” Benjamin said, bemoaning the 102 “desperate people” imprisoned in Guantanamo who are on a hunger strike to protest their detention.”Why don’t you let me address it, ma’am?” the president asked, his irritation palpable. “This is part of free speech, is you being able to speak, but also you listening, and me being able to speak.”The crowd applauded, and Mr. Obama continued his speech, but in short order, he was interrupted once more, as Benjamin exhorted the president to “Abide by the rule of law” and stop striking terrorist suspects overseas with unmanned drones in the absence of due process.After her second interruption, Benjamin was escorted from the room, but Mr. Obama asked the audience not to discard her concerns entirely. “The voice of that woman is worth paying attention to,” he said. “Obviously, I do not agree with much of what she said, and obviously she wasn’t listening to me in much of what I said, but these are tough issues. And the suggestion that we can gloss over them is wrong.”The National Rifle Association, the nation’s largest pro gun rights group, was perhaps mindful of the raw emotions coursing through the American public in the wake of the tragedy, waiting about a week before declaring its opposition to the gun control measures being proposed, like a ban on semiautomatic assault weapons and an expanded background check system for gun purchases.NRA’s LaPierre: I’m not the crazy oneNewtown parents react to brazen NRA responseInstead, in a speech on December 21, 2012, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre scorned those measures as ineffective, saying that the nation’s “utterly defenseless” schoolchildren could only be protected by stationing armed guards in every school in America a proposal the NRA called its “school shield” initiative.That was enough to set off a pair of protesters from Code Pink. One stepped right in front of LaPierre at the lectern and held aloft a sign reading “NRA KILLING OUR KIDS.” After he was escorted out of the room, Code Pink co founder Medea Benjamin picked up the torch, holding a sign that read “NRA BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS” and shouting, “The NRA has blood on its hands! Shame on the NRA! Ban assault weapons now, ban assault weapons now!””I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi,” he said in a statement released the same day of the attack. “It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn the attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”Romney was criticized left, right, and center for his hasty trigger finger pinning blame for tragedy on the administration before the facts were clarified.And at a campaign rally in Fairfax, Va., on September 13, 2012, a protester interrupted Romney as the Republican addressed the attack in Benghazi.