Grandma Jailed for Voting in Flag Shirt
by Grey T. Scott
PHOENIX, ARIZ. — A 57-year-old grandmother, Laura Lynne Hardy, was arrested Tuesday when she appeared at a polling place while wearing a T shirt bearing the U.S. flag on the front and the U.S. Constitution on the back.
"This was blatant electioneering," said State Election Chair Barb E. Dahl, a former Democratic state representative. "It is illegal to campaign near polling places, and it was obvious to all of us there that Ms. Hardy supported the Tea Party. And if she supports the Tea Party, that means she is against our great leader, President Obama, which means she was electioneering."
Hardy denied being a Tea Party member.
"I don't even know how to join the Tea Party," she said. "I'm simply an American who believes in being patriotic and in supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States. The funny thing is that I got a lot of compliments on my shirt from people in line when I first got to the poll. But then one of the election committee aides came up to me and said that I was in big trouble. He started talking into his walkie talkie and listening in his earphone, and then he motioned over to a desk where I expected to sign my name. There were several workers there, and they had name tags, such as Helen Waite, Warren Teide, Les Fish and Chips Downe.
"'Go to Helen Waite,' the aide told me.
"So I walked over to wait for further instructions. All of a sudden a policeman came behind me and twisted my arms behind my back and handcuffed me. Next thing I knew I found myself in a drunk tank with prostitutes and drug addicts. It just doesn't seem right that I can't be a proud and patriotic American at a polling place. Somethin' ain't right here."
Dahl said many voters would be intimidated by the presence of extremists who are so fanatical about America that they wear symbols of the country on their clothing.
"We allow a great deal of leeway," she said. "If a veteran of a foreign war shows up wearing a flag pin, we'll usually let that go out of respect for their being forced by the threat of imprisonment to work for the military. We also let union workers wear shirts, buttons and hats because they don't have any choice in how their union bosses get involved in campaigns. The unions might vote Democrat, but some of the members are Republicans, so we let them show a little individuality.
"But when we see somebody like Ms. Hardy, who is voluntarily trying to use propaganda to affect the way people vote, we must draw the line. Nobody in America has the right to express their political viewpoints at a polling place, especially in a state such as Arizona, where many residents identify more with Mexico than America.
"Ms. Hardy knew better because way back in May we made it very clear that we would not tolerate any tea party garb at polling places. That's when we made an example of another lunatic conservative who was taking part in illegal poll place electioneering."
Dahl said state election officials are issuing a call for volunteers to help maintain decorum at polling places in the November election.
"Several groups have offered to post guards at polling places to make sure that crazies don't show up and try to impact the vote," she said. "We are leaning toward accepting the services of the Black Panther party, which successfully protected voters at polling places in Pennsylvania during the last presidential election.
"U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has assured us that he will fully support our decision to have guards in paramilitary uniforms brandish weapons at all Arizona polling places as long as the guards are Latinos, Mexican-Americans or American Indians."
Conservative talk show host Harry Lipp said Hardy's arrest was a hardly a surprise in today's supercharged political environment.
"Progressives have an enlightened view of the Bill of Rights," Lipp said. "Freedom of religion has become freedom from religion, the right to bear arms has become the right of the government to bear arms, and free speech has evolved into the freedom to speak positively of the progressive, liberal agenda. In their way of thinking, Grandma Hardy has no more right to express a love for her country than to yell 'fire!' in a crowded theater because they think that conservatives have hijacked patriotism."
Simi Ann, an evolutionary scientist and former progressive talk show host at the currently defunct Air America network, said that conservatives have a skewed view of the Constitution.
"These nut cases think we should be bound by the words and ideas of long-dead colonists who were racist capitalists, male chauvinist pigs and blind believers in creationism and God," Ann said. "If they had their way, our judges would have to make rulings based on what the founders of our country said and thought and not on what the leaders of political thought today know to be true.
"The Constitution is a living, breathing document, which means that it changes as the political landscape changes. If the only way to change the Constitution were through the amendment process, we wouldn't have been able to legalize homosexual activity and abortion, and we would be as backward today as the Religious Right.
"When a voter shows up at a poll wearing a shirt with the Constitution on it, that's just a code for a Tea Partier who favors state rights and individual rights, believes in God and prayer and is trying to hamper the federal government.
"The last thing we need in America right now are reprentatives who want to return us to the old ways. People today want the federal government to protect them from lunatics, and they want the rich to pay more, not less, so that the government can provide more, not less."