Last week I wrote about Code Pink activist Desiree Fairooz who was convicted on two counts related to her disruption of the confirmation hearing of Jeff Sessions. Today, Vox has published a defense written by Fairooz herself titled “I’m facing jail time after laughing at Jeff Sessions. I regret nothing.” As you can tell from the title, the piece continues to push the false claim that Fairooz was arrested and subsequently convicted merely for laughing during the hearing. She writes:
On January 10, I was arrested for laughing during the confirmation hearing of attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions. And just this week, I was convicted of the two charges I received as a result of my arrest: one of disorderly and disruptive conduct, and one of parading or demonstrating on Capitol grounds. Sentencing happens next month — I could spend up to a year in jail, or be fined, or both. Just because I let out a chuckle at a public hearing…
Americans should be outraged that for two seconds of laughter during a public hearing, one could get jail time! What does this say about the state of free speech in our country? We should all be concerned that our freedoms are in jeopardy.
For laughing? How could this happen? Well, it couldn’t. In reality, she was not convicted for her momentary laughter but for her sustained outburst when she was asked to leave, an outburst which interrupted the hearing. How do we know this? Because last week HuffPost spoke to several of the jurors in the case, including the foreperson, who said this was the reason for her conviction:
“She did not get convicted for laughing. It was her actions as she was being asked to leave,” the jury foreperson said…
If Fairooz hadn’t said anything on her way out, several jurors said, there would have been a different verdict.
“Ms. Fairooz’s comments as she was being escorted out caused the session to stop,” the jury foreperson said. “It disrupted the session.”
Given the evidence, jurors told HuffPost they didn’t have much choice but to convict Fairooz. In this split-screen video, you can clearly see how her outburst disrupted the hearing.
The piece does include a tweet with a video showing Fairooz’ removal. It’s not clear if she included it or if Vox added it to her piece. There’s also a link to an earlier Vox piece which includes an update at the bottom mentioning the HuffPost story which interviewed the jurors. But anyone who fails to click on that one link won’t find out why Fairooz was really convicted. Fairooz even brings up the unsympathetic jury but only in the context of pushing the false I-was-convicted-for-laughing claim:
I was gobsmacked by the decision, convicted of disrupting Congress for a bit of laughter! I think our lawyers were equally shocked. They had predicted a sympathetic jury. They were wrong. We are still stunned. I face a maximum of six months for each charge, for a total of 12 months in prison, plus possible fines or community service.
Again, Fairooz was not convicted for “a bit of laughter.” She was convicted for a sustained outburst that brought the confirmation hearing to a halt. Vox knows this is the case, but most people reading this misleading defense aren’t getting a clear picture.