19 November 2011

Goodbye, First Amendment!

Remember when people were freaking out over the Patriot Act and Homeland Security and all this other conveniently ready-to-go post-9/11 police state stuff, because it would obviously be just a matter of time before the whole apparatus was turned against non-Muslim Americans when they started getting complain-y about the social injustice and economic injustice and income inequality and endless recession and permanent unemployment? That day is now, and has been for some time. But it’s also now confirmed that it’s now, as some Justice Department official screwed up and admitted that the Department of Homeland Security coordinated the riot-cop raids on a dozen major #Occupy Wall Street demonstration camps nationwide yesterday and today. (Oh, and tonight, too: Seattle is being busted up by the riot cops right now, so be careful out there.)

I’m not sure how a DHS crackdown on OWS occupiers is in any way considered constitutional.  The language of the first amendment is unambiguously clear:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.  [Emphasis added.]

Couple this with article one, which clearly lays out how laws are enacted, and the reasonable conclusion is that the federal government has no business cracking down on any peaceable OWS event (also note that some portion of the current violence has been instigated by government thugs).

The people have a right to petition their government for a redress of grievances.  Period.  They do not need permits (read: permission from the government) to exercise their rights.  They do not need to pay usage fees (read: taxes).  All they need to do is peaceably assemble on public land, and air their grievances before their (nominally) representative government.

This government, fundamentally, must listen to their citizens.  The united states is a republic, wherein the government represents the people.  When the government fails to listen to the citizens it portends to represent, the people have a fundamental right to demand that their government listen to them.

It is a travesty that the federal government has not only ignored OWSers but also shut them down in direct violation of the constitution!  There is something rotten in the united states, and opposing the OWS movement simply because they smell weird and have a weird way of modeling democracy is a recipe to breed totalitarianism.  Supporting the violation of constitutional rights simply because you dislike those whose rights are being violated is very much a slippery slope.  Once the government silences them by violating their rights, what’s to say they won’t do the same to you?

Sure, OWSers haven’t identified the entire problem facing the united states, and most of their proposed solutions are asinine.  However, they are fundamentally correct in noting that the giant banks that are headquartered on Wall Street deserve a significant amount of blame for some of the problems facing America.  And, for that simple reason, their voices should be heard, not silenced.

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