You can go to the Charlotte Convention Center on Thursday to protest George W. Bush's cash-grab (a $2,000-a-plate fund-raiser), but don't expect to actually see the Prez or for him to actually see you. He probably won't, because you'll likely be herded into one of those infamous "free-speech zones," which means precisely the opposite of what those words say. There IS no free speech when El Presidente comes to town.
For example, an anti-Bush protestor in Columbia, South Carolina, just last month refused to remove himself and his sign protesting "No Blood for Oil" in Iraq to a "free-speech zone" a half-mile from where the Prez was due to speak. For that outrageous act of terrorism, which used to be known as free speech in this country, the protestor was arrested and fined $500.
According to the Charlotte Observer, "The ACLU filed a federal lawsuit in September, citing 13 instances in which anti-Bush protesters were arrested or forced into remote 'free speech zones,' while Bush backers or the general public closer to the president went unchallenged.
"In some cases, the protest zones were out of sight, on the other side of a building, fence or line of buses, the suit says."
You can read more about the fears and concerns of those in Charlotte organizing the protest against Bush's visit there this Thursday here.