American Devolution: an objective correlative
Celebrating Constitution Day by handing out free copies of the Constitution? A violation of restrictions on propagating “political speech”. At least, in Redding, CA. True, the story is old. But the decision on whether or not we can hand out free copies of our founding documents to those willing to take them — an inconvenience to some that has been conflated with buskering or panhandling — will be left up to a three-judge panel presumably sworn to uphold the Constitution. And yes, even the ACLU had to sign on in defense of the TEA Party on this one, lest they cease to exist permanently as anything other than a front group for left progressivism:
The lawsuits come after the City Council, acting as the Redding Municipal Library Board of Trustees, voted 4-1 on April 18 to allow leafleting at the main library entrance with some restrictions.
The policy sets aside for leafleting roughly 66 square feet of space on the left side of the library entrance when viewed from outside the library. That’s just under 9 percent of the 750-square-foot foyer area.
Leafleting groups must reserve the space through an online registration system used for other community spaces in the library, such as meeting rooms, according the city’s policy. Pamphleteers must hand out literature on topics of public interest. They cannot distribute coupons or other advertising. Nor can pamphleteers approach patrons or leaflet windshields in the library parking lot.
Finally, the policy prohibits pamphleteers from harassing people entering or leaving the library.
The Tea Party Alliance and ACLU claim this policy violates free speech and assembly rights, which are guaranteed by the state and U.S. constitutions.
The ACLU alleges the city’s leafleting policy infringes “on the right to free speech by preventing far more speech than is necessary to achieve any significant government interest,” according to the group’s lawsuit.
Similarly, the Tea Party’s lawsuit alleges the policy “imposes unreasonable, vague and overbreadth ‘time, place and manner’ regulations on free speech and expressive conduct activities.”
The city attorney’s office was closed Friday evening, but Rick Duvernay, the city attorney who drafted the policy, has said the rules are designed to protect leafleteers along with library patrons.
“If someone’s sensibilities are offended, staff will protect the people engaging in speech as long as they follow the guidelines,” Duvernay has said.
So yes, you and your little fringe group of “patriots” can have your little space to hand out your political propaganda — because let’s face it, that’s what it is, arguing implicitly as it does against the kinds of national government we know have, and against the excesses of the state governments in broke-ass states like California (which just raised pensions again for public service employees, while simultaneously and nonetheless upgrading its reporting of debt from $28 billion to $300 billion — oops! clerical error! ). Consider it a sop to the quaint little Birchers and racists in their tri-cornered tinfoil hats who refuse to recognize that the Constitution and Declaration of Independence are both, like, over 100-years old and written by slave-owning white racist patriarchal white slave owners who were, among other things, law breakers, patriarchal, and slave owners.
Like a college “free speech zone” — a place to shuttle off the buskers and the crazies and that one kid with the sandals with the patchy beard who plays the sitar.
So here we are. Yesterday, the 3rd District Court of Appeal was set to hear oral arguments on the ability of the TEA Party group to hand out copies of our countries political-charged and evidently potentially offensive founding documents to those who might be interested in taking them. Last summer, a Shasta County Judge, Monica Marlow, put an injunction on the Redding ordinance, which the city naturally appealed. Can’t have that kind of disrupted political speech polluted library corridors, after all.
Enforced conformity of behavior, the ease of collecting a city government paycheck without the messy fights that surround liberty in a free nation — all are completely justifiable reasons to just force people to shut up.
Wouldn’t society be so much better if we would all just get along? And if we won’t, shouldn’t the government be able to use laws, regulations, police, and billy clubs to bring about the serenity we all so naturally crave?
For the children?
(h/t Inga Barks)