Tuesday, June 24, 2008

America's Free Speech Prisons

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

These words, seared forever into the minds of citizens of the United States, and emulated by those around the world who seek freedom for over two centuries, are once again coming under attack by both the Democratic and Republican parties of our country. The First Amendment to the Constitution does not allow for the peaceable assembly of the people who seek to protest and petition elected officials for redress of grievances to be penned into out of sight, out of earshot razor wire topped fenced in areas.

As legal experts in both St. Paul, Minnesota and Denver, Colorado argue cases before appellate judges, it seems that this issue would have been settled already. The Supreme Court has already held in Perry Educ. Ass'n v. Perry Educators' Ass'n, 460 U.S. 37 (1983) that states do not have any right to regulate political disagreements with the enforcement of free speech zones on public property, and especially when the event being protested is of a political nature. States can however, limit protests to designated areas when the entity is a private concern, and the protest is to be held on private property.

The Democratic National Convention, to be held at the Pepsi Center in Denver, is already seeking to restrict access to the parade route by protesters. They are refusing to release the route in which the parade leading up to the convention itself will march. They are arguing that they have the right to set up fenced in areas in a huge parking area across the street from the Pepsi Center, an area that will not be seen by delegates to the convention, nor will they be within ear shot of the protester's voices.

Even worse, in St. Paul, lawyers for the RNC and the city itself are in court arguing that the specter of terrorism is just cause for a denial of a permit for 100,000 people who wish to march on the Xcel Energy Center in the downtown area of the city. Claiming the possibility of a 'chemical, biological, or suicide bomber attack', as well as 'lone gunmen, riots, and the blockading of the city', they inject and play the fear card in an attempt to trample the right of the People to peaceably assemble. But the simple fact is that the Republican Party does not want the world to see an anti-war protest.

How did this come about? Where in the Constitution does it state that if politicos do not wish to hear the voices of dissent from the people, they may be denied a permit to protest, (a PERMIT to protest, or in others words, permission), or be locked into cages topped with razor wire to prevent them from escaping and expressing their views? And why do the People allow for this destruction of one of the most fundamental rights we are supposed to enjoy?

It has become so much the norm for Americans to accept that if they were to gather on a public thoroughfare to protest an action by their government, that they would be arrested for doing so, that the fear of speaking out has become the rule and not the exception. We delude ourselves into believing that we have freedom, but when one has to go to court to exercise a guarantee and a right bestowed by the rolling over in their graves Framers, then what sort of freedom do we truly have? The answer is that we don't. What we have is a never ending battle against a tyrannical system and the two Party system that holds absolute sway over everyone's lives.

Try it. Gather just ten of your friends together. Go and stand in front of the City hall of your town and denounce the Mayor, the City Council, or the dog catcher. Watch how quickly you find yourselves sitting in a cell for disturbing the peace, causing a public spectacle, public endangerment, or whatever other charge they can dream up.

This trend of stopping the voices of dissent is anathema to the very foundation of our country and must be resisted at all costs. We all remember the free speech zones that were set up in underground garages. Next, they'll be issuing permits to protest outside of the city limits only. After that comes the natural progression of stopping any demonstration under color of the threat of 'terrorism'. People must be allowed to have delegates, elected officials, or just other citizens hear their voices and their views, regardless of how it plays to the television cameras.

Because make no mistake. This is not an issue of right, left, or center. This is not an issue of crowd control or terrorism. This is an attack on our very freedom and it comes not from a cave overseas, but right here from our very own people. Completely ignoring Supreme Court rulings by claiming they apply only to petitions against the Federal Government, those who seek to trample on the rights of the People don't want you to examine cases such as Hague v. CIO. A case that explicitly stops local officials from impeding in any way the right of the People to peaceably assemble. Chief Justice Hughes, speaking for the majority spelled it out pretty clearly. he stated the rights of citizens of the United States to use streets and parks to express views, especially those of national concern, must not, under guise of regulation, be abridged or denied.

Therefore, the entire notion of penning people into makeshift prisons for having the audacity to speak out is clearly Unconstitutional, a a violation of the law. The streets and highways are not owned by the government, nor corporate concerns. They are the property of the People, and as such, can be used by the People to say whatever they want, about whom they want, whenever they want, without fear of arrest or reprisal by said government or it's agents. Being an issue the Framers strove to guard vigorously against, these so called freedom of speech zones are illegal, unwarranted, and a transparent attempt to stifle opposing view points.

How far, do you think, they will push the People? How long, might one suppose, that the People will accept tyranny in any form before they decide that enough is enough? How many politicians can we count on to back the rights of the People, and the Constitution of the United States over illegal attempts by the government to deny the People the full extent of the protections provided for? Many questions with very few answers save one. The First Amendment is very clear on the subject of imprisoning, (even in a makeshift fenced in holding cell,) the People who seek to protest against one group or another. And it is up to the People to make sure that these rights are not taken lightly by the very persons elected to uphold our sacred pact. Do nothing at your own peril, and the peril of the complete destruction of our way of life.

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