Killer Cyborg (killercyborg) wrote,
Killer Cyborg

Free Speech and Camping

(From the Palladium Forums, after a lengthy discussion about the right of protestors to camp during protest)

Wandering back into the conversation to address the "Protesting does not require that one camp" facet:

The statement is true, and I understand the sentiment.
Protesting does not, in fact, require one to camp.

However, protesting does not, in fact, require one to do many things.
Eat and sleep, for example.
these are things that nature requires us to do from time to time, in
order to survive, and we must survive in order to protest effectively
(in most situations).

In order to protest, one needs certain things.
space to protest, for example. Yes, one could assemble a group of
people in the middle of the desert or forest, with nobody else for 100
miles, and these people could exercise their right to free speech, but
is this really what the writers of the first amendment had in mind?
Free speech where nobody relevant could hear it?
I don't think so, though perhaps I'm wrong.
me, the point of the first amendment is that people have a right to be
heard by the public in general, and civic leaders and decision-makers
Which means that the people need to have access to the public, and to public places.
Likewise, I believe that this amendment was meant for everybody, not just people with a certain income level.
A person who is absolutely penniless should be able to assemble with others and to exercise their free speech.

Which brings us back to camping.
in theory, people can show up in a public place at a certain time, then
protest for a certain amount of time, then return to their homes to
But that's not true of everybody.
Some people have no homes.
people have homes, but the homes are too far removed from the necessary
location of effective protest to be effective. For example, if I were
to go to New York City to occupy Wall Street, I would not be able to
protest effectively.
The commute from southern Illinois to NYC and
back every day would, I believe, take longer than the day itself would
last, leaving no time to actually exercise my rights.

Which means that I need to sleep someplace closer in order to exercise my rights in this matter.
In theory, I could stay at a hotel. But not everybody can afford a hotel.
In theory, I could stay with a friend nearby. But not everybody has friends they can stay with.
theory, I could stay at a homeless shelter, but not every place has
homeless shelters, and not all homeless shelters have vacancies.
theory, I could sleep in public places, such as parks and such, areas
paid for by tax dollars that are accessible by the public at large, but
that brings us back to where we are right now.

purpose of the first amendment was to make sure that the government did
not infringe upon the people's assembling publicly and speaking their
By banning camping, public sleeping, and certain other
activities that are not necessarily directly necessary for public
protest, the government can (and is) attempting to keep people from
effectively assembling publicly and speaking their minds.
people need a place to sleep, and they need a place to eat, for any kind
of prolonged protest, and the government knows this.
This is why
policies against public sleeping, camping, etc. are popping into place
NOW, instead of last year, or any other time in the past.
Because the
government and/or public employees are attempting to use new rules,
obsolete old rules, and technicalities in order to keep the people from
exercising their rights effectively.
True, they're not keeping the people from exercising their rights entirely, only effectively.
But that certainly seems like an infringement to me, which goes against the first amendment.

there are limits on free speech, as there are on all rights- there are,
despite the letter of the law in the first amendment, times and places
where the people's rights can be logically infringed upon.
Whether or not camping during protest IS one of these times is debatable.
It's not something that can really be settled here, though it can be discussed.
It's more a matter for the courts to handle, and as cases turn up, the courts are handling them.
I think it's too early to say what ultimate consensus will be reached, as different judges make different rulings.

The point in all this is that it's not a cut-and-dried matter, and for either side to act like it was a simple situation, a "no-brainer," is to ignore some of the realities of the situation.
Tags: 1st amendment, camping, free speech, occupy wall street, protest
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