American Elephants

Are There Limits to Freedom of Speech? by The Elephant's Child

I am thoroughly sick of the “Occupy” movement, and hope it fades away soon. That said, it has been extraordinarily badly handled from the first. I don’t know to what extent most cities are prepared for demonstrations, but I would assume that most large cities have some kind of rules, for they require permits for protests, and there are restrictions of one kind or another. They are clearly unprepared for the potential that they will become violent or criminally infiltrated.

When a demonstration is protesting Capitalism in one form or another, even if it starts with brain-dead college students, it will soon be joined by the communists, the socialists, the anarchists, black block, International ANSWER and ACORN under whatever  their new name nowadays, and union thugs. It will be portrayed as comparable to the Tea Party, no matter how wispy the comparison.

The Constitution says specifically that “Congress shall make no law 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.” When the gathering stops being peaceable and vandalizes a Whole Foods store and shuts down the Port of Oakland, it becomes ever so much more interesting for the media, but less Constitutionally protected. Nor does the Constitution protect rapes, assault, theft or drug distribution. And surely there should be some protection for the small businesses being harmed by the protests.

We are, correctly, very protective of the right to free speech. When cities have not thought through their response to such demonstrations, they too often start out with a completely hands-off position then, when it all turns bad,  have a hard time asserting authority, or deciding what authority to assert. They always seem unprepared.

The “redress of grievances” bit is problematical. The old-line communists and socialists want to establish communism or socialism, apparently unaware that is classified as insurrection, revolution or treason, rather than a redress of grievances. The students can’t quite figure out what their grievances are, or at least can’t manage to express them in ordinary English. Something to do with their student loans and not being able to find a job, though many seem unwilling to work.  So, pointless, annoying, and turning very sour. What was once a curiosity has become boring at best.  It’s over.  Go home.

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