Tuesday, November 15, 2011

1st Amendment Is Not A Pass For Anarchy

Today, New York Supreme Court Justice Michael Stallman ruled against Occupy Wall Street's argument that the protesters may protest in violation of park rules.  They argue that rules limiting tents and 24 hour protests at Zuccotti Park are targeting their movement in particular and hence are violations of the 1st Amendment's protection of free speech. 

This is nonsense.  The 1st Amendment does not protect everything that people might claim is free speech; for example, I cannot burst into your house screaming obscenities, or even a coherent political viewpoint, because I do not have a right to speak one your private property.  Zuccotti Park is private property.  If they wish to change the rules for whatever reason, they are in their rights to do so.  This is reinforced by the zoning laws imposed on the park concerning safety and health regulations. 

Occupy Wall Street has every right to speak its mind peaceably (hell, I wish they would come out with anything resembling a coherent thought to argue about).  Intentionally disrupting the lives of others, however, is not free speech.  You can speak without being a pain in the ass.  Remember that free speech is just that.  You do not have the right to force people to listen to you.  You do not have a right to bang drums and disrupt the nights of families.  You do not have the right to defecate in public and protect rapists.  These things are not free speech, nor does prohibiting them in any way reduce the ability to propose or attack any idea. 

I pointed this out at the beginning.  This movement couldn't get any traction in the media until they resorted to blocking a bridge.  It isn't their message that gets them attention (for the most part, they lack a message at all).  It's the fact that they are nuisances to society.  Most of them are protesting for the sake of protesting rather than having any goals to actually achieve. 

If you have something to say, OWS, put it into English so we can understand you.  Banging drums, blocking subways and bridges, shouting down people who have nothing to do with your silly protest, these things are not free speech.  You can say whatever you damn well please.  So say it already.  

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