Perriello's place II: Olbermann calls Whitehead 'worst'

annualmanual-whiteheadJohn Whitehead accepts his "worst person in the world" award.

As last week's cover story, "Perriello's place: When free speech collides with private property," hit the stands, Rutherford Institute director John Whitehead, quoted in the piece, sent a letter to Congressman Tom Perriello amplifying his concerns and urging him to move his Charlottesville office to a place "where citizens’ rights to petition and demonstrate will not be squelched by private property concerns."

For this, Keith Olbermann dubs Whitehead the "worst person in the world" on the MSNBC commentator's December 14 show, Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

"Whitehead wants Perriello to move his office to make it easier for the Tea Baggers to protest and threaten him," says Olbermann.

Whitehead's response: "Does the award come with a certificate or plaque?"

The controversy began when visitors to businesses in a Garrett Street complex called the Glass Building experienced difficulties, due to the crush of protesters, getting into the parking lot, where tenants such as Three Aesthetics pay $100 a month for spaces.

When police told a group of UVA College Republicans to protest on the public sidewalk or go into Perriello's office, the Republicans contacted the Rutherford Institute, as did the Jefferson Area Tea Party, voicing concerns that their rights to petition had been abridged.

Perriello is working on a letter to respond to Whitehead, says the Congressman's spokeswoman, Jessica Barba.

"We have met with and have continued to meet with anyone who wants to come inside the office," says Barba. "We have met with the Tea Party a number of times. The College Republicans–- that day police told them they couldn't use the parking lot–- they came inside and had a meeting. We'll continue to do that."

Barba notes that Perriello has leased the office through January 2011.

On the same day Olbermann blasted Whitehead, his Rutherford Institute received an email asking if its own office site were suitable for protesters objecting to the "lunacy" of his proposal to Perriello.

"Please note that we do have a sidewalk in front of the building where you could easily congregate with your signs, and if your rights are in any way infringed upon, The Rutherford Institute would commit itself to defending your rights under the First Amendment to peacefully assemble and protest," writes Rutherford spokeswoman Nisha Mohammed. "If it happens to be a cold day, we'd be glad to offer hot drinks and whatever else to help keep you warm."


And these are the 'grownups'!!!!!!!!

It is sad that people from both parties constantly do stupid things that give the other side fodder. Today AL Gore went to Copenahgen and got caught in a lie that will surely be all over Fox news and the conservative talk shows.
Meanwhie this protest just makes people these people look like fools.

The probelms we face are serious and thses distractions will surely cost us all in the end.

Nisha Mohammed said, "Please note that we do have a sidewalk in front of the building where you could easily congregate with your signs."

I've been in the business complex -- Sachem Place -- where Whitehead's offices are located. It's a crowded, busy complex. I'm sure there is a sidewalk right out in front. But what if 100 people all wanted to stand there at once, waving signs and chanting slogans? or 200? that would inconvenience the other business tenants, would it not? the family medicine office, the software business, the optometrist, the loan office...what if some of those protesters want to fill up the parking spaces of neighboring tenants so they can protest the Rutherford Institute? or they feel crowded on the sidewalk so they stand in the parking spaces? Is John Whitehead going to move his office to some huge open space with yards and yards of protest space surrounding it?

Financial responsibility doesn't enter in. Liberals really do believe in a free lunch.

I have tremendous respect for John Whitehead and the work of the Rutherford Institute. His institute has a long history of representing the rights of a wide variety of people, most often focusing on religious liberty but also other legal issues as well. Whitehead has never been aligned with any political party and has displayed a high level of integrity in all that he has done. For many years during the Bush administration, he spoke out against the erosion of civil liberties under the guise of national security.

Whether you agree or disagree with him on this issue, he deserves respect. Its ironic to me how so many on the left complain about the lack of civility among those who oppose their view of the world, yet they display such an utter lack of civility in their own comments.

So, Publius, you're not going to give any props to the people on the left who HAVE acknowledged that Whitehead has done a lot of good work? Because I know you've read the posts from exactly those people, here as well as on the other blogs you frequent. Is it more fun (because more polarizing) to gaze fondly at the irony you've discovered?

It appears from both articles that the Rutherford Institute is only asking that the 5th District Congressman's office location allow for peaceable assembly by constituents. This is something that Thomas Jefferson would have expected, and so should we.
The only one being petulant over the matter is Keith Olbermann; it obviously was a slow news day if he thinks Whitehead is the "worst person in the world". With all of the other candidates in the world(Osama Bin Laden for one), Whitehead is who he comes up with.
Olbermann is a loser, and so are the 20 people who actually watch his show.

No one is blocking anyone from "peaceable assembly" and no one has been able to demonstrate that anyone's speech has been curtailed. Where is the lawsuit alleging the infringement of civil rights? It doesn't exist because it would be a colossal waste of time and legal fees.

It sounds like the Congressman has been quite cordial to those that are opposed to his policies. I think we've all seen enough footage of the tea party protests and healthcare town hall meetings to know that this cordiality and respect is not reciprocated.

Before invoking Thomas Jefferson in a dispute about parking spaces, perhaps these people should grow up a little bit. Tom Perriello moving his office will not make one iota of difference in the lives of the American People, nor will it serve to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.

God Bless America and Support Our Troops!

sheesh... forgot to put the word "believes" in between "institute" and "it" in the first sentence. I have to stop drinking this cough syrup in the morning.....

Olberman's hyperbole notwithstanding, if the institute it somehow looks like a champion of "free speech" in this episode, it is sadly mistaken.

Instead the Rutherford Institute appears to be a petty, petulant and partisan practitioner of the politics of parking lot prevarication!

John Whitehead will have to stand in line I'm afraid. My attorney has already won the title of the ââ?¬Å?worst person in the world” in the Charlottesville and Albemarle area. :)

It's never ceased to amaze me when an attorney takes on a legitimate case or issue, and prevails in said case or issue, they become the "bad guy".

Lefties uncivil? What the #$%!&!? Publius wouldn't know his $%#! from a #$!@! after his mother #$%!@# a kangaroo and he hopped #%$@!! Furthermore . . . what's this? --A phone call. 'Scuse me a second.

"Hello? Why no, I am not a Republican and do not watch Fox news. No problem, the mistake was perfectly understandable. Goodbye."

Publius, respect is hard won and easily lost. That's the way it always is, just ask Mr. Woods.

John Whitehead has done a lot of good, but he's gone off the deep end all of a sudden on this one. What he seems to be advocating makes no sense and smacks of hypocrisy. If that harms his reputation as a man of reason, then who's to blame but him?

Let's follow this thought.

If Congressman Perriello has an office on the second floor of an office building, so that someone who wants to protest would have to do it one the first floor, away from the door to the actual office, would John Whitehead have heartburn over that?

If he had an office that fronted on the Downtown Mall, but when you walked into the office you were greeted by a secretary who would say, "You can't go back there" to anyone who wanted to waltz right into the Congressman's office, would John Whitehead have heartburn over that?

Does he see a First Amendment problem with Tom having his office in Washington on the fifth floor of a Congressional office building that you can only get to by going through security?

Or is the claim that the only thing that would satisfy John Whitehead is that Tom has to put his desk on the sidewalk itself, so that there would be nothing standing between Tom and a prospective protester?

Or does he only have heartburn over the fact that the nearest sidewalk is about 150 feet away? If that is the case, then where does the Constitution say that peaceable assembly has to be in the face of the public official? Where was the outrage when the Bush Administration set up a "free speech zone" at the Bush Ranch in Crawford, about a mile away from the Bush Ranch, telling protesters, "If you want to protest, you have to do it over there"? (To be fair, Democrats have done that also, though it really got going under Bush.)

Would Mr. Whitehead and the College Republicans have preferred that Congressman Perriello have rented space on the Downtown Mall that was more expensive, thereby costing the public more money? Or that didn't have free parking right in front of the building, thereby costing anyone who wanted to come meet with Tom and his staff a few bucks for parking fees?

Keith was over the top, but Whitehead was being ridiculous.

Perriello is wasting taxpayer funds by leasing that office through Jan 2011. He won't need it after November 2010. But he obviously has no interest in financial responsibility or he wouldn't be voting to bankrupt our country as he has.

These teabaggers are making me thirsty.

true grit and stan, if you studied social studies in the 5th grade you'd know that congress is in session until the January after the election. So even if the GOP are able to field a winning candidate against the incumbent, Tom P is once again doing his constituents proud by leasing his office for exactly the correct amount of time.

No need for you to revise your statement, my correction of your mistake shall suffice.

yepper, they no longer teach that in social studies... now they teach that corporations are the enemy,democrats are going to save the world, the saes are going to rise by 12 feetin the next ten years, abortion and homosexuality are the answer to our moral a and social problems and that the only reason black people haven't taken over is because their great great great great grandfather was enslaved by an immigrant from ireland who came here in 1930.

Oh yeah, and that only republicans ever lie.

wow Kramer, chip on your shoulder much? Last I checked, "black people" are/were the president, the attorney general and two of the last three sec'ys of state of the us of a.

yepper.... you are correct.... perhaps someone should tell jesse jackson, al sharpton and Ms Mckinney, I don't think they got the memo....

Kramer must have been assigned very different study materials than can be found in any accredited school in the United States (maybe he was home-schooled). But it is always gratifying to have my own views confirmed in part by the actions and utterances of the blogging right wing -- they are simply so consistently wrong on the facts that it is never even tempting to wonder if they might be right on the ideology. Sure, there may be "idiot savants" with insights into things that the rest of us don't see, but there is no such thing as an "ignoramus savant." But the funniest bit in this string is how un-remedial of the alleged problem the Rutherford spokesperson's solution is, to the fantacized protesters who might assemble outside the Institute (c'mon, who would really bother?): They would offer no better stage for their protesters to perform their political theater than does Tom P. Sure, free speech is a fundamental right, but so is the right to property, and the wish to have one's rant broadcast on TV with a Congressman's office building as one's backdrop does not trump the rights of business owners in Tom's building to make their livings and provide parking (which they pay for with their own money, not taxpayers') for their customers. One tea-bagger complained that if they protested instead at the Downtaown Mall they'd have to get a permit for having more than 50 people. Golly! That might be half as much trouble to line up as chartering the bus that took up the business owners' parking lot, and there is a societal reason for requiring a permit for assmebling a raucous mob -- emergency repsonders need to be ready in case anything bad happens. Of course, if the College Repube-lickin's got their way, every single Congressman would have to provide, presumably at taxpayer expense, some kind of stage area for the tea-baggers to perform their perverse antics, which is just one more baffling area in which the right wing mob seems to have broken from traditional the Republican values of fisdcal discipline and moderate behavior. What has happened to the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower, and Poppy Bush!?

...wouldn’t know his $%#! from a #$!@! after his mother #$%!@# a kangaroo...

If there comes a time when you have to back up this claim...

please...... NO VIDEOS!!!

Thanks to all of those who have made posts in response to have provided substantial evidence to support my statement.

Hoolarious, you're right that some on the left do handle the position objectively. If you reread my original post however, I said it was ironic how "so many on the left".....I did not say "all". My purpose was not to be polarizing, but to point out the irony that many on the left (note I did not say "all") are close minded to views not in agreement with their own. The irony is that many on the left portray themselves as "open minded".

For reference, check out a book Free Speech for Me But Not For Thee. It was written by Nat Hentoff, a now retired writer for the Village Voice. Hentoff was a left of center writer, but very objective about how he approached issues. He described how he was censored in some situations when he was going to address some issues in a way that did not conform with the views of his editors. He gives many examples in his book about how both sides attempt to censor each other rather than deal with the issues objectively. Its probably a 20 year old book now, but still valid.

John Whitehead said (apparently), "ââ?¬Å?Free speech means that the people who are the target of your speech have to be able to see or hear you,” (from today's DP).

Seriously? That's the standard we're going to apply consistently across the United States for anyone who is a target of "free speech"? Because that statement means that ANYONE who is the target of ANYONE'S free speech has to situate himself in such a way as to be able to hear and see it, presumably the whole time.

Are you allowed to walk away from someone who wants to free-speechify loudly right into your face while you're walking to your car, or does that abridge free speech rights?

Are you allowed to draw the shades on your office window if the placard-wavers get so distracting you can't do your work, or does that abridge free speech rights?

Does this standard apply to the big banking heads with their offices on the gazillionth floor of a high-rise building? Cuz I'm mad at them and I'd like to yell at them. Do those guys have to move down to the ground floor, to an office with street-level windows?

How come the burden is on the protestee to arrange everything for maximal comfort and convenience of people who want to express their feelings in one and only one highly specific way? It's like they got off their comfy couches to protest, but then discovered that there were no comfy couches at the protest site, and hey, it's like no one is paying us any attention, HELP, WE'RE BEING OPPRESSED!

"And you get a Free Speech Zone. And you get a Free Speech Zone. And you get a Free Speech Zone. And you get a Free Speech Zone."