Thursday, December 29, 2011

Frozen Speech

Free Speech is a tough challenge for any society. With a broken heart I report that the City and County Of Santa Cruz, the State Of California, and the United States Of America are all (broadly and deeply) failing a critical test of societal character.

A classic example of 1st Amendment takings, in Santa Cruz, is the protest song case.

In the appeal of my conviction for singing on Pacific Ave. last January 6th, I thought that singing a few songs in the Free Speech Zone in the middle of the afternoon in my normal, unamplified voice would be protected free speech. I was wrong.

A group of political activists were convicted of singing protest songs, during the day, in a zone marked for free speech (by little metal markers embedded in cement, surrounding a statue of a local activist). Perhaps you had to be at the hearings to fully experience the troubling behavior of all three recognized branches of government.

A more chilling example can be seen in the video footage of the Casually Pepper Spraying Everything Cop, made all the more chilling when observing the indifference of the other law enforcement officers at the scene of the crime.

And now the death of the commons is coming into view via the Wright v. IVGID case, like a bad SciFi adaptation. However, that 9th Circuit opinion mentions...

traditional public forums (public streets, public parks)
designated public forums (officially opened properties, like the Free Speech Zone on Pacific Avenue)
limited public forums(only specific groups/topics allowed)
nonpublic forums (censorship OK, when censors avoid conflict of interest)

The obvious trend for municipalities is growth of nonpublic forums, with aggressive censors (although Santa Cruz did lose The Hissy Fit Case), with fewer and fewer accessible forums for valid (and formerly legal) forms of protest by citizens seeking redress. In essence, it is an extension of the Citizens United ruling into physical space, putting fundamental concepts like The Consent Of The Governed at grave risk.

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