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Free Speech Zone (wikipedia.org)
70 points by scrrr 1544 days ago | hide | past | web | 22 comments | favorite



In 2004, some friends and I got together to check out one of the Free Speech cages at the Democratic National Convention in Boston. The whole experience was surreal.

It was sparsely populated by a handful of disinterested people. It was like a cross between a Starbucks queue and a shelter. When we arrived there was a man who had taken to the makeshift stage and was reading something into the microphone. I don't remember what he said, but as best I could tell no one was paying attention whatsoever.

Emboldened by the attendees lack of interest, we took to the stage after the other fellow had finished his speech. I also don't really remember what we said. What I remember, very distinctly, was that a man piloting a riding street vacuum, drove back and forth in front of us as we tried to speak to the assembled. Even running into the stage repeatedly and easily drowning us out with the industrial street cleaner.

We wrapped up whatever we were saying, took another lap of the cage, and wandered off.


This sad little anecdote is the perfect embodiment of the (lack of) spirit of a free speech zone.


"...picketing is afforded less protection than pure speech due to the physical externalities it creates"

Part of the point of protesting is that it inconveniences normal people and forces them to pay attention, and to likely hear the group's message in the process. I get personally irritated when some group is causing traffic delays and making a ruckus where I'm trying to go about my life, but I firmly believe they have the right to do it. Some day I might want to protest something, and I'd like to have the option.


In DC and New York (and probably other places), the local unions will pay big groups of homeless people to get together and protest non-union construction sites with drums and noisemakers. If they get noise-complaint fines, the unions just pay them and tell them to keep going.

After spending a few weeks with people with no stake in the cause wrecking my productivity with drums for a few bucks an hour because an organization didn't like the building next door, I started to appreciate the value of _some_ abridgement of picketing rights.


That situation sets itself up for a couple of pretty obvious countermeasures:

1. Pay the protesters to go away. It's a free market, after all.

2. Recruit your own volunteers to go to where the union is recruiting, and get paid to protest.

3. Or, if you want to support the union, file a suit against the target of the protests for creating an environmental nuisance.


So "protection money", counter-assholery, or lawyers to file a nuisance suit against someone for doing a perfectly legal construction job? What a wonderful world that must be...


I'm looking at ways of hacking the system. And doing so in a way that might balance interests one way or the other.

Sometimes life is just a game.


The Supreme Court is going to rule on a Massachusetts law that forces protestors at abortion clinics to stand 35 feet from the building. The problem isn't just the noise and the traffic delays, there are also issues of physical harassment and intimidation. I think its a pretty reasonable law - protestors are perfectly visible at that distance and passers-by can have a certain amount of personal space.


Why not just leave things as they are, but arrest any protestors who harass or intimidate? Those are already illegal, after all.


Causing traffic delays and creating a ruckus is not a part of one's First Amendment rights. Nor should it be - that gives the minority an effective veto on the lives and productive capacities of random people.


The amount of disruption a peaceful demonstration can cause is proportional to the number of participants. As it should be.


We already have a free speech zone in the United States. It stretches roughly from Maine to southern California, Florida to Washington state, and North Dakota to the border with Mexico, with a some outliers like Hawaii and Alaska thrown in for good measure.

The recent federal governments may not respect the constitution, but their violations of the very document they swore to uphold don't eliminate our rights. We need to remind them of that fact.


>We need to remind them of that fact.

“That is all very well, but who is to bell the Cat?” -Belling the Cat, Aesop's Fables


I saw a reference to this on the original seasons of Arrested Development, however I thought it was something ridiculous the show's writers had concocted. I had absolutely no idea that it was parodying real life.


"Database is thrashing the disk again."

"Man... just symlink it to devnull."


Wow, I didn't know these free speech prisons.

Cynically amusing I've to say.


It was also brought to my attention from that article a few days ago about the secret dance party: NY has a law disallowing gatherings of more than 50 people without a permit.

That to me is just as constitution-breaking as free speech zones (though note: not an american, have never read or studied your constitution, may be completely wrong).


The armed forces welcome your dissent.


There was some controversy over "free speech zone" at my school (USC) back in ~2007: http://boingboing.net/2007/04/10/usc-students-defy-fr.html


I'm interested to know what one can be charged with for exercising free speech outside one of these zones...


There was a worldwide fallout from the American's setting up 'Free Speech Zones' that all our supposedly free countries tried to imitate to squash dissent.

Even with constant stories in the media about how angry the corporate serf population was with blocking traffic in the morning for Critical Mass rides 'Why can't they do this on Sunday afternoon when nobody is around?' they were unable to set up these freedom crushing zones as the supreme courts ruled them unconstitutional, so instead they passed laws creating emergency national security buffers around consulates and government buildings, and in various high end retailer and business district areas that were designated emergency response routes, and a freedom killing law banning face masks during protests. Islamic protesters were solely blamed in the media for this new law, even though none of those protests were violent, and none of them were even protesting the government they were going after foreign consulates. The real threat of protesters with masks was anti austerity protests that turned into riots. They all started wearing masks when peaceful protesters attending anti austerity marches had their faces plastered all over the media while some pundit ran a slash piece about "lazy protesters". Some of them were fired from their jobs once their face was in the media, of course not because of protesting but for some other minor reason so the company wouldn't be sued. Some were also targeted by extremist right wing groups and had their houses lit up by molotovs.

When they did this every propaganda pundit was on the media arguing 'Why do you have to hide your face if you aren't a criminal?' and the serfs let it be passed with standing ovation because of Islamic boogeymen and the handful of anarchists that rioted. National security was a concern, the freedom zones and identity concealment had to be enforced.

This lasted for a few years until even the corporate serfs with total apathy towards anything the government was doing to squash dissent started being arrested or denied entry while attending major events like the Olympics or G8 zones wearing hats, scarfs, or even sunglasses as they were declared 'identity hiding'. So many people defied the national security zones the police were unable to arrest them all then finally the party who brought in the law was tossed from office, the police chiefs quietly resigned with full pension for squashing human rights, and the identity law and security zones were repealed by the supreme court.

Now they are back to promoting these free speech zones and identity hiding laws again, claiming they are necessary to prevent two opposing political rallies from meeting each other on the street and starting a riot and to prevent vandals. They also want all protests to submit their entire strategy/plan of action to the police for approval first (yes, police approval) and of course the new police chief swears up and down he has no cares at all about crushing dissent he only wants an orderly population to prevent costly overtime and traffic problems. Nothing to worry about. They already swooped in and arrested the leaders of a Critical Mass ride who submitted fake protest routes to the police but they successfully sued for false arrest, so now they want a permanent law.

The same media pundit hacks are back on the air ranting at the lazy and entitled population for protesting and causing their commutes to be delayed. The exact same disinfo mocking identity concealment is being played out like these laws didn't already all go to hell a few years ago.

If at first you don't succeed, keep trying to squash dissent because the media has limited memory and of course isn't talking at all about the first time they tried to do this and failed.


Free Speech Zone you say?

Time for a "Arrested Development" scene! http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xohzz1_lindseys-cage-dance_...




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