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 Stories, Events

02.21 Roads to nowhere: how infrastructure built on American inequality [the cure is not more of the same]

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

02.25 The terrifying phenomenon that is pushing species towards extinction

02.24 In 'Tremendous Victory for Taxpayers, Public Health, and Planet,' Federal Court Rejects Trump Admin.'s Attempt to Suspend Methane Rule

02.24 Weatherwatch: floating windfarms prove their worth

02.23 In the Trump Administration, the Polluters Are in Control

02.22 Standing Rock is everywhere: one year later

02.22 Red Cloud’s Revolution: Oglalla Sioux Freeing Themselves From Fossil Fuel [making an "engine for good" that creates good jobs & products enabling the tribe to cut or eliminate polluting fossil-power utility bills]

02.21 Newborn survival rates in US only slightly better than in Sri Lanka [caused by highest-profit, non-universal healthcare and the political war against Planned Parenthood pre-natal care by willfully ignorant Republicans]

02.21 Maternal Health Care Is Disappearing in Rural America

02.21 Climate change 'will push European cities towards breaking point'

02.20 'Much work needed' to make digital economy environmentally sustainable

02.20 'Sloppy and careless': courts call out Trump blitzkrieg on environmental rules [what happens when good judges are replaced with Trump-judges?]

News Media Matters

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

02.25 Democrats defend Russia inquiry in response to Republicans' Nunes memo

02.25 The Frat House of Representatives [ubiquitous lying and corruption]

02.25 Robert Mueller’s Distinctly American Indictments [ubiquitous lying and corruption]

02.24 Demanding 'Fundamental Restructuring of the Economy,' Progressives Embrace Bold New Agenda

02.24 'Corruption, Plain and Simple': Public Comments Show Outrage at CFPB's Corporate Turn Under Mulvaney

02.24 Fears grow as rightwing billionaires battle to erode US union rights

02.23 California agriculture sees 'chilling, damaging effect' from wave of immigration audits

02.23 Where Gun-Control Advocates Could Win in 2018

02.23 White House indicates it could find funds to train and arm 1 million teachers [2:03 video; Trump proposes what gun manufacturers and NRA want rather than confiscating assault weapons that Australia has proven works]

Justice Matters

02.23 Robert Mueller files 32 new fraud charges against ex-Trump aides

02.22 Paul Manafort got $16 million in loans after the election. Mueller finds that very interesting.

High Crimes?

02.23 Medical crisis in east Ghouta as hospitals 'systematically targeted' [war crimes continue – why are the UN and ICC so ineffective in stopping this and similar horrors?]

Economics, Crony Capitalism

02.22 Trump’s Bogus Infrastructure Plan Takes the U.S. Further Down the Road of Rentier Capitalism

02.22 Plundering the Planet: Coca-Cola And Nestlé To Privatize The Largest Reserve Of Water In South America [When the public is ignored for profits, THIS is what could go wrong]

International & Futurism

02.25 Mueller investigation: Manafort accused of secretly funding European pro-Russia group

02.25 UN security council votes unanimously for month-long Syria ceasefire [why not a permanent ceasefire, have war crimes trials and then hangings!]

02.23 The fairest of them all: why Europe beats the US on equality

02.21 Netanyahu aide agrees to implicate PM over corruption claims – reports

02.21 Netherlands becoming a narco-state, warn Dutch police [instead of a totally criminal solution, why not develop safer, non-addictive prescription drugs to put dangerous narcotics gangs out of business]

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: