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View Diary: Occupy Boston: Risking Arrest tonight because I believe...... (118 comments)

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  •  asdf (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    emal, evergreen2

    Dolly, I apologize for the unnecessarily harsh tone of my responses to your comments.

    I shouldn't be impugning your motives or the depth of your empathy with the protests.

    Rather, I should just make very clear what MY position is:

    I think I share your discomfort with those protesters who say, in effect, "You can't do this man. We're not breaking any law!"

    Of course they are. They're breaking civil curfew and camping ordinances.

    With that acknowledgement, however, I think there's a legitimate case to be made that our 1st Amendment rights should trump those ordinances. I know the Court has ruled otherwise, but the Court has made any number of egregiously bad rulings over the last couple hundred years. Sometimes they reverse themselves and sometimes they don't.

    One of the determinants of whether we're dealing with a 1st Amendment issue is whether the restrictions on free expression are being applied fairly and impartially, without regard to the content of that expression. Are the ordinances being cited to justify the eviction of the 24/7 protestors from public spaces being applied impartially? How many homeless people live on the streets of New York? Los Angeles? Oakland? In parks, alleyways, under bridges. How often are the homeless rounded up and taken to jail? Sure, it happens at times - when the Mayor's feeling the heat from outraged citizens because the homeless have become just too damned "visible" for comfort. But, for the most part, tens of thousands of the homeless are "occupying" public spaces every damned day of the year.

    Given the above, I think there's no question the OWS occupiers are being evicted from public spaces precisely BECAUSE of the content of their speech, and the perceived threat to the status quo the 1% are laboring so zealously to maintain.

    •  The problem is.. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DollyMadison

      a tent is not speech.  Breaking ordinances is not speech, no matter how you cut it.

      Is it an expression of one's feelings? Sure.

      But it is, and never will be, free speech.  The homeless are rousted from parks and other public venues all the time.

      I fully support civil disobedience as a form of protest.  My generation practiced its fair share back in the 60's.  But at no time did we ever resort to mind-bending logic to try to convince ourselves a sit-in in a public hallway was "speech".  

      Personally, I think insisting OWS be allowed to camp out whenever and wherever they like debases their message.  It becomes a power trip.  But that's just my opinion, and not worth very much.

    •  The courts, liberal and conservative, haven't (0+ / 0-)

      They haven't made any errors in these decisions that stretch back to the 1940's. It's the restrictions that keep abortion opponents from being able to block clinics - they get to protest - the government can't and shouldn't stop them from protesting, but they have limitations on that protest because they can't strip the rights of those who want to go to that abortion clinic.

      That's the whole thing - your right to swing your arms around STOPS when you start threatening or hitting other people! Your right to protest stops when you start impigning upon the rights of others.

      You and your group want to walk up and down a sidewalk in a commercial district, carrying signs, 24/7/7, while not impeding foot traffic on that street or stopping people from accessing buildings, and not making too much noise after dark? You can do that forever and never get stopped - and that's because you're not impigning too much on other's rights.

      You take over a public park so that others can't use it, camp overnight which requires that police protection be drawn to your site after dark instead of to other locations, and you've started unfairly impigning upon other's rights! I mean, that's one of the main reasons they don't allow camping in public parks (not the only reason for sure, but one of the main ones). If you have people in those parks overnight, you need to have a policeman regularly inspecting that area. Cops don't patrol empty, open spaces very often as compared to areas where people congregate and might be at serious risk.

    •  Oh, and the reason OWS is treated "differently"? (0+ / 0-)

      Is because they're impacting regular citizens much more directly and impactfully than individual homeless people are doing.

      There's absolutely no evidence that OWS is being targeted because of the content of their speech! None. In fact, they've been treated much more leniently than most other protest groups would have been treated - allowed to remain, actually allowed to put up tents in the first place, etc. I can't imagine other groups being allowed to do what they've been allowed to do.

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