Among the many regulations that Glenn Beck demanded for this morning’s “Restoring Honor” rally was a ban on any signs, political or otherwise. “Leave your signs at home guys,” a young woman tells us in an official promo video, “we really don’t want anything to deter from the peaceful message we’re trying to bring to Washington, okay?”
Beck’s no-sign demand drew little to no ire from those planning to attend the rally, including many Tea Party chapters and other political groups. However, conservative groups were not nearly as submissive when Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA) made the same request for his town hall meetings earlier this month. Perriello’s attempt to keep out signs in order to “encourage an atmosphere of civility” was met with cries of censorship by the Rutherford Institute, acting on a complaint by the Jefferson Area Tea Party:
“Your sign ban amounts to an act of outright censorship that raises grave Constitutional concerns,” wrote Rutherford Institute founder and President John W. Whitehead in a letter to Perriello.
Perriello backed down after the outcry and decided to permit signs at future town halls.
For Beck and Tea Party groups — who persistently tout the wisdom of the Framers and the infallibility of the Constitution — the irony is palpable. A sign ban at an opponent’s town hall is a major threat to freedom of speech; a sign ban at a Beck rally is an important rule in order to keep the event on message.
A few of the rally participants today didn’t follow Beck’s admonition against bringing signs: