Newspaper logo  
 
 
   Free Speech Zones In the USA?

SPEAKING OUT:

Free Speech Zones In the USA?

by Ward Reilly

You could have been a world hero, Mr. Bush, instead of being a world criminal, at least in my eyes. Could have, but never more.
"Free Speech Zones" in the U.S.A.? I thought our entire nation was a "Free Speech Zone." I thought that is what "freedom of speech" meant in our Constitution. That we could say anything we wanted, anywhere on public property where we wanted to say it. What was I thinking? Welcome to "Free Speech, 2004, "Dubya" Bush Style."

On Friday morning, May 21st, 2004, during a visit to my city by President George W. Bush, I learned what it means to live in a country when "free speech" means something entirely different if you don`t happen to agree with what your President, and/or his cabinet, have done in your name.

On this day, all good "pro-Bush" citizens in Baton Rouge, Louisiana got to stand along the curbside of Dalrymple Drive in hopes of catching a glimpse of the most powerful man on Earth, as he rode by them on his way to speak to the graduates at LSU.

"Superman at LSU," you ask? Not exactly, but President Bush was here. Now, having a sitting President visit is normally quite an honor in itself, kind-of, but Bush`s fans on Dalrymple Drive just didn`t have any good luck that day. The President chose a different route leading to the Assembly Center, and so the Bush fans went along their merry way without having caught a glimpse of their leader.

I, on the other hand, an old ex-Infantry veteran from long ago, was forced to stand 100 feet from Dalrymple Drive, in the direct Louisiana summer sun, hidden behind some of the beautiful giant oak trees growing alongside Dalrymple Drive at Highland Road, even though I had planned, with several other groups, to protest along the curbside on Dalrymple Drive.

But because I was not "pro-Bush", and because I carried a sign, I wasn`t allowed to do what I planned. A sign of protest? How devious! How DANGEROUS! It`s enough to suspend the Bill Of Rights, right? WRONG!

I "captured" the "Free Speech Zone," and it now is an "Anti-War Trophy" in my music room, with my military decorations and awards.

At LSU on Friday, May 21st, "Free Speech," as designated by law, was only to be allowed for "anti-war" citizens that were willing to stand in a roped-off 35 foot square, 100 feet from the road. My sign said "Veterans For Peace, No WAR" on one side, and "The DUBYA--M-D's ARE IN THE WHITE HOUSE" on the other. Not exactly controversial. Not exactly threatening. It just said that I`m against this Iraq "war," and I don`t like this President. I have been against this war since way before it even started, and I will be that way until the last U.S. soldier is home from there.

We had a legal permit to demonstrate against this war and President Bush, a permit from the Secret Service, as enforced by the LSU police. When our group of demonstrators arrived on Dalrymple Drive that morning to protest this visit, an LSU policeman told us that we had to stand in a 35-foot fenced-in square, exactly 100` from Dalrymple Drive, for "security" reasons, under the threat of arrest if we didn't. We refused to stand in that thing, but we did not get arrested. (It would have been funny if all the protestors had stood in the little square and said "MOO" over and over, like cattle do.)

Directly across the street from the "free speech zone," about 25 "pro-Bush" citizens stood along the curb and waited for the President. I was selected as spokesman for our group, so I asked the LSU police Sarge, "Why can those people stand along the curb but we can`t?" The Sarge said, and I quote, "Because they are pro-Bush, and they don`t have signs".... damn, it was my sign's fault!

At the end of the demonstration some of us demonstrators entered the little roped-off square, pulled up the stakes holding it in place, and proceeded to walk all around the Parade Grounds of LSU, inside the world's first government-issued "Moving Free Speech Zone." FOX News filmed it, and they even showed us marching around in our captured "free speech zone" on New Orleans TV.

So let me get this straight--and also let me present this to you, and you decide what is wrong with this picture. If you are "pro-Bush," you need no permit to stand along the edge of the road, and no security is necessary if you decide that you want to get as close to the President as you can. The police checked none of them, asked them for no permits, and allowed those people to line the street within only inches of where the President would be riding.

So if I were a terrorist or an assassin trying to "hit" our President, all I would have needed to do in order to get only inches away from him, would have been to say nothing, get no permit, and carry no sign.

I just don`t get it. Do you get it?

Did I mention that a lot of men and women have died in war thinking that their sacrifice would guarantee that something like this would never happen to me or you in the United States of America? Maybe if our "War President" had shown up when it was his turn to fight in a war, this wouldn`t have happened to us when he did show up somewhere, like here in Baton Rouge on May 21, 2004.

Nice of you to show up George. At least it was nice if you were a "pro-Bush-non-sign-carrying-pro-war" type. Please don`t come back here. You could have been a world hero, instead of being a world criminal, at least in my eyes. Could have, but never more.

The Infantry wasn`t too bad for me...I`m here. At least I can still write about "free speech," even if I can`t practice it. Peace George, from Baton Rouge. Stop the war, and bring the troops home now.


P.S.--I "captured" the "Free Speech Zone," and it now is an "Anti-War Trophy" in my music room, with my military decorations and awards. I think it is safe for me to say that it is the only captured and portable "Free Speech Zone" in the world, and I will treasure it for the rest of my life.


Ward Reilly, of Baton Rouge, La., is a member of Veterans For Peace and Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

Copyright © 2004 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on May 27, 2004.
  
Local Gov’t Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Futurism
Books, Films, Arts & Education

07.21 Defending Public Schools, Demonstrators Greet Betsy DeVos at ALEC Annual Meeting

Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

07.24 Companies Rush to Develop ‘Utterly Transformative’ Gene Therapies

07.23 Possible nuclear fuel find raises hopes of Fukushima plant breakthrough [0:37 video]

07.22 Farmworkers Protest EPA’s Pesticide Ruling

07.22 Al Gore Breaks With Democratic Party Leadership to Support Single-Payer Healthcare

07.22 California lawmakers extend program to cut emissions in bipartisan vote

07.22 Dirty coal to dirty politics: everything is connected through a malformed political economy

07.19 Climate denial is like The Matrix; more Republicans are choosing the red pill [4:26 video]

News Media Matters

07.18 How liars create the ‘illusion of truth’

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

07.24 Democrats Bet on a Populist Message to Win Back Congress [Monopolies and price-fixing have to be stopped! Americans can no longer afford to pay twice-as-much for health-care, cable, cellphone and broadband.]

07.24 Mississippi Nissan workers hope for historic win in 14-year fight to unionize

07.24 A chat with Bernie Sanders: Bernie Sanders and Al Gore on solving the climate crisis

07.23 Message to Democrats: Get on Board With Medicare For All or Go Home [its about coverage and efficiency, not choice of plans among highest-profit companies with high deductibles]

07.23 Game of Thrones: Libertarian Edition [5:58 video]

07.23 CBO: Under the latest Senate healthcare bill, deductibles could be more than some people earn

07.23 CBO Finds Growing, Harmful Impact of Senate GOP Bill’s Medicaid Per Capita Cap

07.23 How our Intel Agencies Screwed us by Letting Sessions, Trumpies get away with Russia Scheme [15:35 video]

07.23 Tracking Trump: Russia scandal deepens while healthcare flatlines

07.23 Republicans face two unpalatable options on replacement healthcare bill

07.22 The Democrats' performance as an opposition party? Pathetic

Justice Matters

07.24 Jared Kushner sealed Manhattan real estate deal with oligarch's firm cited in money-laundering case

High Crimes?

07.22 UN warned not to whitewash 'grave violations against children' in Yemen

Economics, Crony Capitalism

07.24 Saving Illinois: Getting More Bang for the State’s Bucks

07.20 Asia's coal-fired power boom 'bankrolled by foreign governments and banks' [after being warned by the World Bank against building new coal burning coal power plants—as their use may soon become illegal, will the public be forced to pay-off such stupid loans?]

07.19 A despot in disguise: one man’s mission to rip up democracy [treason is much too kind a word for this]

International & Futurism

07.22 From Paragon To Pariah: How Kaczynski Is Driving Poland Away from Europe

07.22 'People are getting poorer': hunger and homelessness as Brazil crisis deepens

07.22 How Trump signed a global death warrant for women

07.22 One by One, Marry-Your-Rapist Laws Are Falling in the Middle East

07.21 Mondialists, unite! The forgotten story of a global pacifist movement

07.20 U.S. Lawmakers Seek to Criminally Outlaw Support for Boycott Campaign Against Israel [Israel is quilty of war crimes over decades against Palestinians, but let's just ignore that...]

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web

Public Service Ads: