”Congress shall make no law... abridging the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." - Amendment I
These days, should President George W. Bush come to your town, you better not be holding up a sign in protest anywhere near where he’s planning to speak. It’ll probably get you arrested.
Naturally, before the President goes anywhere, members of the local police force, along with some help from our friends at the Secret Service, scope out the area. In order to keep the President “safe” from democracy, so-called “free speech zones” are set up that are often so far removed from the proceedings that people can’t get anywhere near them. More and more, people who want to peaceably protest are forced into fenced in areas that are as far as a mile away from the goings on. This ensures that no news footage gets out which might taint the rosy view that many Americans have of their chosen leader. Effectively, these “free speech zones” have made the protestors disappear.
One might think that the Attorney General of the United States, the person charged with upholding the laws of the land and protecting the rights of its citizens, would have something to say about this practice. Indeed, one John Ashcroft has. Basically his take on the matter is that the government has the right to restrict access to the President even though he’s appearing in public. All of this is in the name of “security” and the fear that there might be an attempt by a disgruntled citizen on the President’s life.
For starters, I don’t think any would be assassin would try and call attention to himself by shouting out slogans and carrying protest signs. I just don’t see it happening. As a matter of fact, I’d think he or she would try and pass themselves off as a supporter of the President and his policies in order to get closer to their target.
There’s good news on the horizon though. The government, in a gesture of good faith, has decided to establish “national free speech zones”. I’m sure you’ll have no problem finding one. Here’s a partial list of their locations.
A one mile by one mile fenced in area located just north of The Badlands replete with security cameras to record the goings on..
A small patch of land conveniently located in the heart of Death Valley. Fingerprints required. DNA sample optional.
A relatively dry patch of land in the Florida Everglades. Same restrictions apply.
The women’s rest room in the Greyhound station in Boise, Idaho. Urine specimen and or blood test given at the door, fingerprints and/or DNA sample optional.
The men’s rest room at Joe’s Bar and Grill located off interstate 80 somewhere in Wyoming. Same restrictions apply.
So fear not good citizens, feel free to wave your signs and speak your minds at any of the locations I’ve previously mentioned, for if you don’t, you can rest assured that the terrorists have already won!
User Noung points out, rightfully so, that at the Democratic National Convention being held in Boston this week, "free speech zones" have also been set up to keep protestors away from the goings on.
Personally, I feel that this action is more in response to the overwhelming emphasis being placed on security after the 9/11 Commission Report and it's warning that there will be further terrorist attacks than it is to defer people from speaking their minds but then again, what do I know.