Docility and the Sportscape

From Dave Lindorff's article on Salon.com, entitled "Keeping Dissent Invisible" (emphasis mine):

Oct. 16, 2003 | PHILADELPHIA — When Bill Neel learned that President George W. Bush was making a Labor Day campaign visit to Pittsburgh last year to support local congressional candidates, the retired Pittsburgh steelworker decided that he would be on hand to protest the president's economic policies. Neel and his sister made a hand-lettered sign reading "The Bushes must love the poor — they've made so many of us," and headed for a road where the motorcade would pass on the way from the airport to a Carpenters' Union training center.

He never got to display his sign for President Bush to see, though. As he stood among milling groups of Bush supporters, he was approached by a local police detective, who told him and his sister that because they were protesting, they had to move to a "free speech area," on orders of the U.S. Secret Service.

"He pointed out a relatively remote baseball diamond that was enclosed in a chain-link fence," Neel recalled in an interview with Salon. "I could see these people behind the fence, with their faces up against it, and their hands on the wire. It looked more like a concentration camp than a free speech area to me, so I said, 'I'm not going in there. I thought the whole country was a free speech area.'" The detective asked Neel, 66, to go to the area six or eight times, and when he politely refused, he handcuffed and arrested the retired steelworker on a charge of disorderly conduct. When Neel's sister argued against his arrest, she was cuffed and hauled off as well. The two spent the president's visit in a firehouse that was serving as Secret Service and police headquarters for the event.

This reminded me of John Bale's observation that "the stadium is regarded as such a secure form of containment that it is, intact, actually used as a prison in times of national security or repression."

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  1. sportsBabel » Pixel to Pellicule to Projection says:

    [...] Louisiana Superdome during Hurricane Katrina, the Itchioka PoW Camp during World War II, and the local baseball diamonds used as "designated protest zones" or "free speech areas" during political [...]