Wednesday, October 26, 2011

No Expiration Date on First Amendment

I'm in Brussels, to give a Keynote Address about Marshall McLuhan tomorrow.  I've been enjoying the conference on the Philosophy of McLuhan, as well as this wonderful city.   But I've been following with grave concern the police aggression against Occupy protesters in Oakland and Atlanta, and wanted to offer - to police everywhere in the United States - the following point:

There's no limit in the First Amendment on the amount of time people can peaceably assemble - no time after which the First Amendment doesn't apply.   An assemblage can be an hour, a day, a year.  So when right-wingers tell you, the Occupy protesters have made their point, they should go home, and the police should make them do that, by force, those right-wingers are only displaying an ignorance of the law.

And that's ok.  People are entitled to be ignorant of the law.  But police and law-enforcement are not.  And when police break the law, or based on ignorance of the law deprive citizens of their rights, that's a serious form of crime.  It's a crime that we the taxpayers are paying for.   No person with a conservative philosophy, no American, should be happy about that.

I call upon police everywhere to respect the law.  Don't follow an illegal order by your commander.  You know what the First Amendment says and doesn't say.

And I again urge Obama to considering calling in the National Guard to protect Americans being forcibly deprived of their rights, just as Eisenhower did bravely for people in the South being deprived of their rights by authorities in the 1950s.

Occupy Wall Street Chronicles, Part 1
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