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News Link • Economy - Economics USA

Clear And Present Danger?


An interesting title in an email sent to me overnight -- but I don't quite see it the way the writer had hoped.

Let's first dispense with the underlying claim: There's something sinister, evil, or simply unlawful about protesting -- exercising First Amendment Rights -- if the message goes on for more than some period of time or if anyone is inconvenienced.

Uh, no.  That's not the test.  It never has been and isn't now.

Remember that our President (whoever it is at any given point in time) shuts down entire cities on a regular basis for political purposes.  Think not?  Wrong.  Anyone remember Clinton's famous haircut?  But that was just one example; Presidents have in the modern era literally closed entire freeways end-to-end for hours at a time.  I got caught in that more than once when I lived in Chicago and it just recently happened in LA with President Obama.  It's almost a national sport and yet I hear nobody claim that it's illegal to inconvenience entire cities for the political perquisites of a single individual.

And note carefully folks -- in both the case of the President going somewhere in the US to make a speech or fundraising dinner and the OWS folks marching on the NYSE, the underlying purpose and intent is political speech.  Both create disruption and that disruption is intentionalThe President could choose to not make his speech, and he could choose to drive a Chevy, dismissing his detail should he so choose (and accepting the risk thereupon) but he doesn't.  Likewise the OWS protesters could choose to not make their speech, they could choose to not march today, but they chose not to.

So I am forced to dismiss out of hand the argument that because people and private businesses are inconvenienced that this is a violation of the law.  Sorry, but until I as a private businessperson or just an old-fashioned private citizen am entitled to compensation from the President personally when he shuts down an entire freeway for hours so he can have his little security bubble, not to mention every other place he goes, this claim amounts to nothing more than "The divine right of Kings" and we're not supposed to have Kings in this nation.


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