bridgepencils.jpgBridge too far, indeed.  Via Jon Swift:

I always thought that people who play Bridge, a needlessly complicated card game, were harmless enough, though they certainly could be making better use of their time. But I had no idea that that the world of competitive Bridge was a hotbed of anti-American feeling. Last month at the world Bridge championships in Shanghai a team of women representing the United States did something shocking when they went up to the dais to receive the Venice Cup, the award for the best women’s team. One of their members held up a hand-lettered sign that said “We Did Not Vote for Bush.” This act, which has led some bridge players to accuse the women of “treason” and “sedition,”….The team’s nonplaying captain Gail Greenberg claims, “There was a lot of anti-Bush feeling, questioning of our Iraq policy and about torture,” at the tournament and calls her team’s action “a moment of levity,” but there is nothing funny about treason.

“This isn’t a free-speech issue,” explains Jan Martel, president of the United States Bridge Federation, commenting on what the organization refers to as the “Shanghai Incident.” “There isn’t any question that private organizations can control the speech of people who represent them.” A statement released by the USBF reiterates, “This situation is not about free speech; it is about determining whether the USBF has a responsibility to its membership to impose sanctions on those who have acted contrary to the best interests of the organization and its members.”

The United States Bridge Federation has an excellent opportunity to show the world what America stands for by punishing these women. Some people have the wrong idea about what the Bill of Rights really means. In America you have freedom of expression as long as a private organization doesn’t own your expression. Peaceful protests are fine as long as they don’t embarrass organizations that depend on corporate sponsorship and take place on American soil behind police barricades where they can be videotaped for future use in any trials that might arise….

More from the NYTimes.

…”Freedom to express dissent against our leaders has traditionally been a core American value,” she wrote by e-mail. “Unfortunately, the Bush brand of patriotism, where criticizing Bush means you are a traitor, seems to have penetrated a significant minority of U.S. bridge players.”…

By all means, don’t make fun of the President…the WSJ says that’s unamerican (unless of course the President is a Democrat, in which case have at it…IOKIYAR in action).  (H/T Glenn)  Because, heaven forbid, anyone should actually stop to think about why at an international bridge tournament the topic of conversation with the American Women’s National team should be — over and over — “a lot of anti-Bush feeling, questioning of our Iraq policy and about torture.”   Because that might actually lead people to consider just how low the reputation of the US has sunk.

And then they might actually get up off their couches, go en masse to public meetings and demand more thoughtful policies from their government.  (H/T brendan)  Oh, the horror — US voters speaking up for better government.  Is it me, or can you hear the gears of the wurlitzer revving up…

PS — Please keeps those FAXes and calls going on FISA, gang.  I’m hearing that some extra pressure on Whitehouse, Schumer, Feinstein, Specter, Graham, and Grassley would be useful.  Thanks so much for all the effort — it is much appreciated!

(Photo via Curtis Perry.)