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
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

08.19 Fracking Giant Sues Dimock Resident for $5M for Speaking to Media About Water Contamination

08.19 Synthetic opioid crisis in US serves as warning for the world, says UN

08.19 Fukushima Plant Is Releasing 770,000 Tons of Radioactive Water Into the Pacific Ocean [to see more stories like this, visit "Planet or Profit?"]

08.19 Citing 'Hateful Rhetoric' of Trump, Arts & Humanities Council Resigns En Masse

08.19 Anti-Fracking Activists Celebrate Ruling Against Major Pipeline

08.18 Kuwait's inferno: how will the world's hottest city survive climate change?

08.18 We saved the whale. The same vision can save the planet

08.17 New Research Suggests Memory Loss in Alzheimer’s Patients May be Reversible

08.17 We Just Figured out How to Activate Stem Cells to Treat Baldness

08.17 1 in 9 Deaths are from Air Pollution & Trump is making it Worse

08.16 Ignoring Threat of Rising Seas, Trump Eliminates Flood Risk Standards

08.16 In Egypt, A Rising Sea — And Growing Worries About Climate Change's Effects

08.16 Australian coal-power pollution would be illegal in US, Europe and China – report

News Media Matters

08.18 Climate change will likely wreck their livelihoods – but they still don't buy the science [a willfully ignorant people? or a public conned by oil-industry subsidized news media distortions?]

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

08.19 Living with Trump

08.19 Centrist Democrats Riled as Warren Says Days of 'Lukewarm' Policies Are Over [video]

08.19 Bannon's Ouster Welcomed, But Much Bigger Problem Remains in White House: Trump

08.18 GOP Senator Drowned Out By Cheers for 'Single Payer' at Town Hall [might our 'representatives' understand better if we took their free healthcare away?]

08.18 If a top Trump aide leaves, it could 'start a run on the bank'

08.18 The United States was never immune to fascism. Not then, not now [2:54 video; “Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]

08.18 Trump's evangelical panel remains intact as others disband. Who are his religious cheerleaders? [“Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]

08.18 To understand the US's complex history with slavery, look to Thomas Jefferson

08.17 Cuckoo D'État: The Lunatics Have Taken Over the Asylum

08.17 Stranding CEOs Too Slow To Quit, Trump Disbands His Own Business Councils [could a wider boycott accomplish resignations or positive change?]

Justice Matters

08.16 Indiana prosecutors want to incarcerate the opioid crisis away [“Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]

High Crimes?

08.18 Buses in Seoul install 'comfort women' statues to honour former sex slaves [immoral crimes are hard to forget]

08.14 Americans once carpet-bombed North Korea. It's time to remember that past

Economics, Crony Capitalism

08.19 The long read: Neoliberalism: the idea that swallowed the world

08.19 Wisconsin lawmakers vote to pay Foxconn $3 billion to get new factory [why are Republicans smiling?]

08.15 Why Are Drug Prices So High? These Politicians Might Have The Answer [especially since the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, BIG money corrupts & controls U.S. government to the public’s detriment]

International & Futurism

08.18 Spain attacks: Suspects shot dead in Cambrils after van-ramming

08.17 Tesla Just Made A Futuristic Tiny House

08.18 Spain can’t cope with rising refugee influx: UN

08.17 Investment Bank Report Predicts the Cost of Electric Vehicles Will Match Regular Cars by 2018 [pressure is building for electric utilities to become 100% renewable or we'll die]

08.17 German Politicians think Trump is dangerously close to Neo-Nazis, and they Should know

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: