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

Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

10.19 How big pharma's money – and its politicians – feed the US opioid crisis [most governments impose price controls, but US Republicans and neoliberal Democrats are bribed to pretent that's not possible]

10.19 Self-harm among girls aged 13 to 16 rose by 68% in three years, UK study finds [drug use and crime are also caused by the same factors, but the $millionaires demand another tax cut so...]

10.19 World's deepest lake crippled by putrid algae, poaching and pollution

10.19 Warning of 'ecological Armageddon' after dramatic plunge in insect numbers [Good job, Monsanto!]

10.18 'This is a really big deal': Canada natural gas emissions far worse than feared [roughly equivalent to all the cars and trucks in Canada]

10.17 Scott Pruitt, Who Loved to Sue EPA, Just Made It Harder for Green Groups to Sue EPA

10.16 The war on coal is over. Coal lost.

10.15 Rooftop Solar Provides a Record-Breaking 48% of South Australia’s Power

10.14 Geoengineering is not a quick fix for climate change, experts warn Trump

10.13 The Grain That Tastes Like Wheat, but Grows Like a Prairie Grass

10.13 Climate Change Is Making It Harder to Grow Rice [might there be a “perennial rice” with much deeper roots to survive droughts?]

10.13 'If the land isn't worked, it decays': Tunisia's battle to keep the desert at bay [beautiful business plan for LIFE]

10.13 Trump scraps Obamacare subsidies in surprise late-night announcement [videos; his Infantilism should cause his impeachment]

10.12 Oxford aims for world’s first zero emissions zone with petrol car ban

10.12 Draughty homes targeted in UK climate change masterplan

News Media Matters

10.17 Malta car bomb kills Panama Papers journalist

10.15 The Establishment Still Doesn't Recognize The Political Revolution That's Happening [the question is, CAN MAINSTREAM NEWS MEDIA – desperate for corporate advertising as revenue falls – ALLOW CHANGE TO HAPPEN?]

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

10.19 War veterans deploy themselves to help Puerto Rico relief [video]

10.19 Is racial bias driving Trump’s neglect of Puerto Rico? [the evidence is obvious]

10.19 An Independent Thinker’s Guide to the Tax Debate

10.19 Even After Equifax and Wells Fargo, GOP Sides With Big Financial Institutions [as do neoliberal Democrats like Hillary Clinton]

10.18 TA-NEHISI COATES UNPLUGGED [audio & transcript]

10.17 How Anti-Trump Psychiatrists Are Mobilizing Behind the Twenty-Fifth Amendment

10.17 McCain blasts 'half-baked, spurious nationalism' in emotional speech [video]

10.16 The Danger of President Pence

10.16 The Texas town where all the energy is green [Alert! Ignoring party leadership, exceptional Republicans use reason to do good!]

10.16 Nevada to Big Pharma: ‘Show Us Your Books!’

Justice Matters

10.17 Trump could remake judiciary for ‘40 years’ — with controversial picks [America will become more like Malta; facilitating corporate/mafia criminality to the maximum]

High Crimes?
Economics, Crony Capitalism

10.19 SOCIALISM, LAND AND BANKING: 2017 COMPARED TO 1917

10.17 The Decline of the Midwest's Public Universities Threatens to Wreck Its Most Vibrant Economies

10.17 Trump Revives Notorious GOP Dog Whistle in Call for 'Welfare Reform' [less money "wasted on welfare" would allow larger tax cuts for "the more deserving rich"]

10.17 For Abandoning Climate Accord, Pope Swipes Trump on World Food Day [Trump is attuned to serve billionaire friends and himself]

10.14 KOCH BROTHERS’ INTERNAL STRATEGY MEMO ON SELLING TAX CUTS: IGNORE THE DEFICIT

10.14 How to Wipe Out Puerto Rico’s Debt Without Hurting Bondholders

International & Futurism

10.18 The lie that poverty is a moral failing was buried a century ago. Now it’s back

10.18 Who Has the World's No. 1 Economy? Not the U.S.

10.18 Robots Are Coming for These Wall Street Jobs [interactive graphics]

10.18 George Soros gives $18bn to his charitable foundation

10.18 The Guardian view on murdering the messenger: a desperate situation

10.17 For Abandoning Climate Accord, Pope Swipes Trump on World Food Day [Trump is attuned to serve billionaire cronies and himself]

10.17 The Movement of #MeToo

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: