Some Go By the Book; Others Follow Their Conscience
When Words Collide
Organizers of the National Book Festival found themselves sharing the Mall yesterday with antiwar demonstrators. So they stationed volunteers in green T-shirts at the Smithsonian Metro station to make sure everybody got where they meant to go -- readers to nearby white tents, demonstrators to the Washington Monument grounds.
But Martin Freed of Fairbanks and his wife, Ruta Vaskys, were both. Toting his protest sign -- with "Alaskans Against War" on one side and something much less polite on the other -- Freed accompanied his wife into the Pavilion of States tent to check out authors at the Alaska table.
He was promptly surrounded by festival-goers, including a guard.
"I object to your sign," one said.
"Why don't you go outside?" another asked.
A woman declared, "You're crashing the wrong party."
"The war is a lot more offensive than the sign," Vaskys replied, reluctant to be dismissed.
But they had a protest to get to, and as the couple departed, Freed called over his shoulder, "This is the state the country has come to: You can't even have free speech at a book festival."
-- Karlyn Barker
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Pounding the Pavement
Lots of speech was literally free. Relief for sore feet wasn't.