Achtung! Tyranny in Denver, Tertia Pars

Not only has the city of Denver built a bare-bones facility to house any protesters who might be arrested at the Democratic Convention, it has also designated protest areas, where those who wish to protest will be forced to stand. These protest areas, are, essentially, cages, and they’re located 200 yards from where the convention delegates will be. Some free speech this is. Don’t let the Oligarchical sympathizers fool you with their neo-Puritan notion of what the First Amendment means: If the protesters cannot interact with the movers and shakers at the convention, then their free speech rights are being violated.

There is one man who could bring a stop to this in a New York minute, and he’s a guy from Chicago named Barack Obama. All he has to do is call a press conference and say, “Let these people be heard.” I’m not going to hold my breath. Barack Obama: Illegal wiretaps we can believe in.

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7 Responses

  1. If the protesters cannot interact with the movers and shakers at the convention, then their free speech rights are being violated.

    Please define “interact.” Would the same standards apply to religious services/meetings?

  2. Paul,

    That is to say that if the protesters cannot be heard by the delegates, then it would seem to me that their rights are being infringed. I don’t mean “interact” to mean any sort of violence, etc., which few protesters engage in anyhow. Average people don’t believe in violence; it’s the government that does;-) At any rate, what I’m saying is that this is not possible 200 yards from the building.

    Should the protesters be allowed to block the doors? Of course not. But 200 yards???

    As for religious ceremonies, since they’re held in private buildings rather than out in the open space, then the owner of that building has every right to dispense with someone who is speaking out of turn.

  3. Hmm…didn’t they do this in China for the Olympics? I mean, as long as we are purchasing all our cheap plastic crap from them I guess we should import domestic policy as well.

  4. I should first say that I agree that the 200 yard regulation is ridiculous, and makes a mockery of free speech. Too, I wasn’t really referring to religious services per se, which, as you say, occur in private venues, but in terms of access routes. That is, would you be equally comfortable with protests of the sort which will (or should be allowed to) occur at the political conventions taking place on the sidewalk in front of the cathedral in Camden during Mater Ecclesiae’s recent Mass there?

    Also, I would disagree with your point about average people not believing in violence; not that this would generally apply to protesters in Denver. However, I’m still getting used to the tenor of your new ‘blog, and I suspect that you’re really just “taking the piss” here.

  5. “Taking the piss”?? I’ve never heard that one before. ‘Splain.:-)

    Um, well, generally I think that if we can’t handle a contrary opinion there’s something we’re insecure about, so, off the cuff, I’d have to say no, I don’t think I’d object to protesters out on the sidewalk in front of the cathedral, although that would be more likely when a bishop is present, given that the bishops are the irresponsible ones in the RC Church, rather than the parishes, such as Mater Ecclesiae;-)

    This does introduce a problem viz. public space. If the cathedral were able to own the sidewalk, some of this problem would be resolved.

    Of course, a lot of these issues are exacerbated by the absence of good taste in modern discourse. Someone with good taste might say, “Well, let’s protest across the street,” but when some ramrod decides to get up in everyone’s face, that’s when the problems start. The courts intervene, then precedents are set which often have dire consequences on incongruent situations.

  6. Sorry, too many years in the company of extreme Anglophiles; “taking the piss” is simply a British-ism for (generally) lighthearted making fun, as opposed to serious discourse. There is a site–Ship of Fools–which tends to specialize in a “taking the piss” attitude to ecclesiastical affairs; some people are very disappointed with the lack of serious discussions there, as I was, at least before I “got it.”

    That said, no I don’t suppose that an ordinary Mass would be likely to draw a protest; I was merely trying to come up with an easy example. The issue of public vs. private space is an interesting one. Suppose you had a convention at some country resort where there was no real place to protest; say a two-mile (private) drive off of a main road. In such a case, I’d say that the protesters would have no right to be right out in front of the resort, well within the property lines. But I know that some people disagree with this. To be honest, I’m probably a little oversensitive because of the Episcopalian addiction to “prophetic action.”

    Finally, I agree that good taste and good sense, and charity and kindness, would go a long way to resolve these issues without resorting to overreaching laws and overzealous enforcement. However, that’s where we seem to have been since at least the 1960′s. The civil rights marches of the 1950′s, on the other hand, were mostly models of civility.

  7. That said, no I don’t suppose that an ordinary Mass would be likely to draw a protest; I was merely trying to come up with an easy example.

    I understand. I only really said that to get a jab in at the bishops.

    The idea of “prophetic action” also makes my skin crawl, usually because the people who call their actions such are betraying their own narcissism and overestimated sense of self-worth. I would nonetheless guard their right to free speech. At any rate, a lot of these issues do in fact come down to property rights. If the party were to have a convention on a secluded private resort, then indeed the protesters would not have the right to trespass on the property. At the same time, of course, such a decision by the party to have an event like this on private property would be also irresponsible, I think, especially if they did it for the express purpose of frustrating the efforts of the contrarians.

    The problem in Denver is that if these protesters get closer than 200 yards, even on public property–land that they help to pay for (through the coercive levying of taxes), then they get arrested. The use of public property is problematical, but as long as it’s there I think these people have a right to use it to peaceably assemble.

    Liberty, common sense, and good taste: these are the bases of my political philosophy. Perhaps the bit about good taste is a bit Utopian, but I’ll keep trying;-)

    Oh and one can never spend too much time with the impeccable taste of the Anglicans.

    Off I go to play some Henry Walford-Davies…..

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