LAST WEEK, MY COUSIN (and a good friend of mine) claims he was escorted out of a Bobby Jindal event by uniformed police officers. My cousin is a student at LSU and a well-known Democrat on campus, but he was not escorted out of the event for asking any questions or calling any attention to himself in order to distract Representative Jindal or his supporters. My cousin was well-dressed and had been invited to the event by a female friend who simply wanted to hear Jindal speak. One of Jindal’s campaign workers, a fellow LSU student, had identified my cousin in the crowd and apparently informed the Jindal campaign and police security, who then escorted him out of the building. My cousin is not a radical. He often reminds me that he considers himself to be more “centrist” than he considers me to be, and having known him for my entire life, I have no doubt whatsoever that he would never grandstand or disrespect a rally for any political candidate. Anyone who knows him knows that he is not capable of such a thing. He’s a dynamic and intelligent guy, and he has always been respectful of people regardless of their personal political beliefs. His only crime, it seems, was being an interested, engaged, and well-known LSU Democrat, a tall guy who is easily recognizable.

As a young college student who is deeply interested in the upcoming election and the political process, he attended the event to hear Bobby Jindal, an elected representative of Louisiana, speak about his views on the gubernatorial race. But instead, Jindal’s campaign staff ensured my cousin was humiliated and escorted out of the building, as if he were a criminal, by uniformed officers. But my cousin did not commit any crime or threaten anyone or disrespect or disturb the Jindal rally. He was simply, quietly, and respectfully accompanying a young woman.

Americans should not be used to this, but unfortunately, we are. President Bush and his team have been known to “filter” their audiences for rallies and so-called “town hall meetings,” ensuring that their is little room for productive discourse during events ostensibly billed as a part of the democratic process (“Quarantining dissent: How the Secret Service Protects Bush From Free Speech” by the San Francisco Gate). On August 17th, the federal government paid $80,000 as a settlement for arresting a couple who wore “Anti-Bush” t-shirts during a rally in South Carolina.

Jindal’s campaign, it seems, may be taking a page out of the President’s play book; however, my cousin was not sporting an anti-Jindal t-shirt or causing any type of dissension or disruption.

Republican apologists may question this, as if my cousin was a nuisance by virtue of his own personal political beliefs and therefore deserved to be humiliated and escorted out of an event sponsored by and featuring a man who would like to become our governor. But my cousin was not there to ask any questions or to voice or express any protest. He was simply accompanying a young woman who had invited him to hear a speech by a candidate for governor.

Representative Jindal has a history of avoiding debates and difficult questions, including questions about his close professional relationship with embattled US Senator David Vitter. If this man would like to be our governor, then he should allow for a free, open, and transparent exchange of ideas. Otherwise, he is attempting to subvert the healthy discourse and debate on issues and ideas to which we are all entitled as Louisiana voters.

If this was some type of colossal mistake or misunderstanding perpetrated by renegade members of the Jindal campaign, then Representative Jindal should immediately distance himself from and fire the campaign workers who ordered the use of our police force to engage in an act that of intolerance and discrimination against a college student who simply wanted to accompany a young Jindal-supporting woman to a campaign event.

I honestly hope Jindal and his campaign have the human decency to apologize. If this is cleared up, I will gladly publish Representative Jindal’s response. Please leave a comment with a legitimate e-mail address (or send an e-mail to lamarw at gmail dot com), and I will be happy to direct you to my cousin, a compassionate and understanding person who simply deserves an apology.

2 thoughts

  1. If you think that Bobby Jindal and the Republican psrty are the only ones who “filter” their audiences, you are either very naive, or very lazy about doing research. This is not new, nor is it confined to the GOP.

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