The late great Bill of Rights

The good people of Ferguson, MO now enjoy the right to stroll, but not to assemble. They have the right to a free press, as long as the free press stays in the free press zone, properly roped off from places they might want to go, and activities they might want to film or photograph. Governor Nixon spoke of the police “providing First Amendment rights” on MSNBC. Governor, you don’t provide rights. You practice forbearance in the denial of rights. Oh and here’s good Captain Ron (scroll down), directing police to provide a bit less in the way of freedom of the press.

This is an old story to anyone who has tried to protest at one of the political conventions, Democratic and Republican, in cities run by liberal mayors as well as conservative ones. It’s familiar to the those who demonstrated against the International Monetary Fund, and more recently to the people at the Occupy encampments. We don’t even have to get started on privacy, the NSA, and all that jazz. Forget the Bill of Rights; it’s a dead letter.

No less than our erstwhile champion, President Barack Obama, went on television Monday afternoon and spoke of his Promise Keepers initiative, aimed at steering wayward black youth onto the straight and narrow. The relevance to the current uproar? You figure it out. Cops shoot black kid, we start talking about improving the conduct of black kids. As some furious Twitterers pointed out, if only there was a Federal program to counsel pathologically violent officers of the law to give up their wicked ways. Perhaps some good liberal will file a new bill.



The late great Bill of Rights — 3 Comments

  1. Respecting the First Amendment might reveal more fully the low regard in Ferguson (and other places) for the Fourth and Sixth Amendments.

  2. “Free Press Zone,” is almost up there with “Free Speech Zone.”

    The moment either of those phrases is uttered in seriousness and not met with a roar of outrage from every American, from every goddamned lawyer, from every Democratic politician — well, that’s the moment we can call it a day on American Democracy.

    We no longer have a plurality of citizens who either know the Constitution or understand it. They think the First Amendment is for them alone. They think the Second Amendment trumps every other amendment and every impulse toward civility. They think the Fourth Amendment is infinitely flexible, as in “What’s the problem if you don’t have anything to hide?”

    We don’t teach civics, history or our philosophy of government to children anymore unless the lessons are larded with Dominionism and an imaginary right to nullification.

    The entire goddamned country is a free-speech zone. Period. We have the right to assemble to protest whatever we don’t like, even if what we don’t like are the incompetents who lead us and even if it hurts their delicate fee-fee’s or their chances of reelection.

    People on the public payroll are paid to serve us, not to brutalize us or abrogate our civil rights. Period. If they are found to be abusing the power we temporarily grant them, they must be removed from power. Period.

    And the damned press better decide which side they’re on. Do they serve corporate masters or do they serve the truth? Are they outraged only when they get shoved around, or does their outrage extend to the abuse of power wherever it exists?

  3. And the damned press better decide which side they’re on. Do they serve corporate masters or do they serve the truth?

    Don’t you think they answered that the day they sent in their resume’?

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