About Me

My photo
Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Toomey Town Hall Ejectee Faces No Criminal Charges

On August 31, Senator Pat Toomey conducted a televised town hall at the PBS studios in Bethlehem. I covered this event for The Bethlehem Press. I was there when Simon Radecki, one of the 54 participants, got yanked when he asked Senator Toomey whether he had heard the news that Tommey's daughter Brigid had just been kidnapped. Radecki was trying to make a point about immigration, but his question was idiotic.

No sooner had the words left his mouth that the long arm of the law reached out and grabbed him. That's the last I saw of Simon Radecki. Numerous news sources, including The Morning Call, indicated that Radecki would be charged with disorderly conduct and disrupting a public meeting. Some more sloppy news sources reported that Radecki had been arrested.

It was "one of the scariest things that I have ever been a part of,” said PBS CEO Tim Fallon.

Tim obviously doesn't get around much.

There's more to life than Big Bird.

After reporting on the criminal charges, more newspapers began to question whether Radecki's free speech rights had been violated. This started in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, with the ACLU offering to represent Radecki. Some law professor melodramatically bellowed, "[T]here's no such thing as a wrong question.”

Of course there is. "Would you like me to rip your tongue out and shove it down your throat?" is certainly a wrong question.

I'd send that professor to summer school.

Morning Call columnist Bill White took things to the next level. He wrote that Radecki had been "charged with disorderly conduct and disrupting a public meeting." He concluded his blog entry by saying that "[t]he charges should be dropped."

Let's be clear here. No one was arrested following Radecki's question. No one has been charged. There are no charges to drop.

There probably would be charges, but as it happens, the officer who collared Radecki went on vacation.

All news accounts that imply otherwise are flat out wrong,

What's more, DA John Morganelli got wind of this matter, and has asked that all details be forwarded to him for review.

Morganelli is a free speech purist, an unusual trait in a district attorney. In 2004, he dismissed trespassing charges filed against peace activists who were distributing anti-war flyers on a public sidewalk outside the Palmer post office. Three years later, he dismissed criminal charges filed against a Washington Township man who was flying the American flag in an upside down position. In 2012, he refused to prosecute a troll over online comments about a judge. That year, he also dismissed attempted robbery charges against "Nature Dave," a bank protester who held a sign inside a bank, warning customers they were being robbed. He did allow one terroristic threat charge to stand. Just last year, he dismissed littering charges against Trump supporter Tricia Mezacappa when she plastered West Easton with Trump signs on election eve.

Given Morganelli's track record, it's highly unlikely that he will authorize a prosecution here.

The best way to assure that people that people you agree with are heard is to ensure that those you disagree with are heard, too.


Anonymous said...

my question would be why was the guy yanked?
if he did not disrupt the meeting then what was the justification?
so the police get to decide whether a question is disruptive or not?
sounds like someone laughing at a confirmation hearing.
so did the po-po overreact?
and if they did what should be the consequences.

Anonymous said...

It seems that Chief Diluzio added to the problem.

"Simon Radecki, 28, of the 2000 block of Main Street in Northampton, faces charges of disorderly conduct and disrupting a public meeting, Bethlehem police Chief Mark DiLuzio said."

"Authorities immediately escorted Radecki out of the studios. Radecki will be sent a summons on misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and disrupting a public meeting, police Chief Mark DiLuzio said after the meeting."

Hard to blame the media for sloppy reporting when both locals had the Chief of Police, who may also be the Public Information Officer, on the record.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"my question would be why was the guy yanked?
if he did not disrupt the meeting then what was the justification?"

He violated the rules of civility established by the station before the town hall, which were reviewed with the audience. His ejection ws entirely legitimate. he was a guest and has no first amendment right to be where he is not wanted on property he does not own.

Bernie O'Hare said...

8:06, I have no problem with accounts that correctly report what Chief DiLuzio said. I do have problems with news accounts that state he had been charged or that he had been arrested. I saw plenty of those. I also have problems with an account, written just last week, claiming that the charges "should be dropped" when there are none. That is just sloppy journalism.

Anonymous said...

BTW did you get an answer to
My chief question is why someone needs a ticket to see his US Senator.

Bernie O'Hare said...

As I explained in my town hallpost, i only got to ask one question, and it was about the dreamers.