By Ruth Conniff
There could not have been a bigger contrast between the two Sing Alongs at the Capitol in Madison on Monday.
Inside, there was a morose assembly of about 36 Tea Party zealots, gathered in the rotunda, pistols down their pants, with the sole purpose of "stickin' it to the Madison libruls." The place was teeming with police, and the tension was high. The vein in Sgt. Weiss's temple was pulsating, which can only mean he was ready to blow.
The Tea Partiers had their own version of "This Land Is My Land, This Land Is Your Land," which they not so cleverly entitled "This land is my land, it is not your land." The last verse went like this:
This land is my land, it is not your land
I got a shot gun, and you ain't got none
If you don't get out, I'll let my dogs out
This land is private proper-tee.
The cops fully expected a counter-protest, even after two-and-a-half years of "getting to know you." Somehow they still haven't figured out that the people who come and sing folk songs in the Capitol are as non-violent as you can get. The Tea Party "patriots" were there to prove a point -- to show how easy it is to get a permit to exercise your First Amendment rights.
Outside, there was a joyous crowd of at least two hundred. One participant described it as a carnival. Trombones, fiddles, guitars and drums, surrounded by the happiest group of despondent, beaten down people you have ever seen. That may not make sense, but for those who are living it, it does. Nobody should ever be required to "apply" for the right to speak out against the government. At least some people in Wisconsin believe that, and they will fight (with their voices) till the bitter end.