Sunday, July 25, 2004

Yet another misinterpretation of the First Amendment
CNN.com - Convention protesters demand more visible space : "At a news conference Saturday, protesters also complained that the fenced-in area is out of sight to most delegates and passers-by en route to the arena."

Look, guys, you have the right to protest all you want. The Constitution grants the following: "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech... or the right of the people peacably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Now, this protection has, over the years, been extended to any government agency, so that no public entity has the right to prevent anyone from speaking their mind. Here's the thing though: legal precedent says that speech may not be restrained based on content (with a few drastic exceptions, such as yelling "fire" in a crowd, or inciting people to violence), but it is allowed on the basis of time and place. Hence, the restrictions requiring a protesting group to file permits in advance of marches, and so forth. More importantly than this, there is absolutely no guarantee from the government that your speech must be heard by anyone. So, shout all you want, but you don't get to do it wherever you want, and there doesn't have to be anyone to hear it. So quit your whining.

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