Friday, June 18, 2010

Get permission before you exercise your FREEDOM OF SPEECH

While I was reading the Pittsburgh Post Gazette yesterday I was drawn to one of the cover stories in the LOCAL section. The article entitled "Arts festival spawns free-speech challenge" seemed interesting. Since I was waiting for a friend to arrive for lunch I dove right in.

Apparently there is a law on the Pennsylvania books that regulates, "expression of views and distribution of material" in state parks, unless written permission is received.

Interesting. One of the people they told to get out and to stop was a balloon artist. OH MY GOD STOP THE BALLOONS NOW!! But really, how could Pa have a law that makes expression of views illegal in a park. Parks are there for enjoyment, where bands play, where festivals are held, it is a place where people gather. When people gather in a non-violent fashion then what is the problem with a few people talking about politics or making balloon animals? Isn't getting the message heard to the masses the point of it, and what better way to do it in a park where people are going to be around. If you do not want to participate, you walk away. No big deal.

This comes after the whole G20 protest hit Pittsburgh, but the law has been around since 1971. I think that it could have been worse. They could have put up "free speech zones" at the park for these people. Who wouldn't like to be in a set area fenced in exercising their right to free speech.....I know that a few of the peaceful marches for the G20 were stopped because they did not have a permit to assemble or they were not in a free speech zone.

I think that the governments addiction to taking Rights away is appalling. There should not be a set place where people have to go to talk or protest. They should be able to mix and mingle with supporters. If they are peaceful and do no harm this should not be a problem.

I get the argument out there that people could become violent at the drop of a hat. That is the case with supporters and with non-supporters, why exclude one and not the other.

I fear that the days of protesting are long past, with the government and local law officials making it so hard for a voice to be heard, why even bother. There is talk that my generation is stuck and does nothing, or stands up for nothing, parents talk of the this "protest era" where college campuses were filled with students lending a voice, where they took their fight to the streets.

Now looking at this, it is not that our generation is lazy and not interested, it is because we are no longer allowed to do this. We have our rights taken away, and if we protest it, we are then in jail. The American way of life is leaving, maybe it is time to start a revolution. But before then, I'll start filling out the paperwork for the permit. Getting permission for something never felt so bad.


  1. I'd like the read that article. As far as I understand, local and state governments can't take away rigts that are granted in the US constitution... Balloon animals? Unless he was a child molester as well...

  2. The ACLU got involved and they straightened things up apparently. But it is weird that all this is happening, in a time when the voice the "the people" needs to be heard louder than ever.