I got a whole lot to qvetch about, so let's get started. Couple things on my mind lately include the continual erosion of civil rights by governments all over the United States and I suspect the Western world as a whole. For now I'll start with this question: How did it come about that laws requiring permits for peaceable assembly could ever be passed in this nation? Since when should any group need a permit to assemble in any public place? That may seem like a small thing, and I know all the justifications for requiring permits for lawful assembly because people are worried about riots, crowd control, litter, noise, etc. But -- here's the big fly in the ointment: The Constitution of the United States includes a Bill of Rights, and the First Amendment says this:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Notice the first five words: Congress shall make no law. Last I checked in my English dictionary, that means NO LAW. No permit law, no requirement of notification, no filing with the sheriff's office, no statement of intent or purpose of assembly, no free speech zone, no designated safe area, no nothing. It means if you and a group of friends decide to march down to City Hall and hold placards up calling the government a bunch of asses, that's YOUR RIGHT. If their supporters decide to show up at your rally and counterdemonstrate in full view of you, that's THEIR RIGHT. And, originally in judicial battles over this amendment, courts originally established the principle that if government absolutely had to intrude into these rights, they had to show that the Union was subject to a clear and present DANGER if a situation involving the use of those rights warranted breaching those rights, and in the case of the First Amendment, the rights took Priority Position, meaning the burden of proof was on the government to show cause, not the party who might be subject to the violation of their Amendment One rights. In addition to this, even though virtually all states restate the First Amendment in their constitutions, the Supreme Court established that this Amendment was so important that it had to be honored by state and local governments, under Priority Position and Clear and Present Danger regardless of what their laws and constitutions said!
After that came the beginning of a long slow erosion that I see being speeded up now. Later decisions by the Supreme Court watered down the Clear and Present Danger doctrine and established a principle called Compelling State Interest. That basically means the government is greenlighted by judges to breach those rights if it can show compelling evidence that the breach is warranted. As Dr. Gene Scott once stated, that could amount to just about anything the government is interested in. That principle seems to be on the way out now as violations of these rights are now in the process of being legislated instead of just pursued by investigatory and law enforcement agencies, as a generation of judges who cut their teeth as prosecutors adopt a very lax attitude toward constitutional violations in an atmosphere where security has been allowed to override civil rights in the compelling interests of the state. I may post something more about prosecutors later.
So, now we come to the present day where cities all across the land, in their zeal to protect the public, and ostensibly anyone who participates in a lawful gathering, from being exposed to the chaos and discomfort of counter-demonstrations, have passed these permit laws to regulate free assembly and free speech. In an Orwellian twist, free-speech zones are now being legislated where demonstrations and assemblies are limited to certain zones where permits are required to have those lawful assemblies, and where counter-demonstrators are separated from demonstrators. This practice, however, has had some strange effects on the actual happenings in public gatherings, and I will post two videos below as examples of what can happen.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=BCLuYvBeq40 -- Citizens arrested in DC for reading the Constitution
http://youtube.com/watch?v=sE76LQwT6qA -- Student Tasered at John Kerry speech for asking about Skull and Bones
Those of you who decide to watch these videos are of course welcome to watch the other videos in their respective YouTube channels. Hopefully they will stay up long enough for a lot of people to see them. That's all for now, Ciao!