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Freedom in Amerika Razor wire and blasted urban landscapes
by Bryan Zepp Jamieson
Zepp's Commentaries
July 25, 2004

"First Amendment Zones" began the day Putsch seized office. When the motorcade traveled to the Congress for the swearing in ceremony, protesters - by the thousands - were identified and relegated to the zones a few streets away. Government agents ordered the media to not show any protesters that did slip through the cordon sanitaire.

"First Amendment Zones," the Orwellian name for the place where free protest is incarcerated, have been a trademark of this administration, and this brittle, cowardly, sanctimonious president. I first mentioned them in an essay in 2001, identifying them as actually being "second amendment zones," set up because they were so worried Putsch might get shot by his adoring fans.

But we didn't have Second Amendment Zones in 1964, or in any of the years subsequent to that and before 2001, despite the fact that we had plenty of violent loons with guns who felt that shooting a president could solve their personal problems. Didn't need them until 2001 - nine months before 9/11.

Part of the problem was Putsch himself. He is brittle, and doesn't respond well to displays of opposition, and there are a wealth of stories - some surely apocryphal, but some not - of him reacting to such, usually with vulgarities and tantrums. Two guys with T-shirts stating opposition to him got flipped a presidential bird. In another case, a guy permitted to join the adoring throngs lining the route of the fearless leader took off his over-shirts to reveal T-shirts with anti-Bush slogans. One of them was arrested, but the charges were dropped, not because they were idiotic charges, but because the cop, apparently dumber than a turd, was out of his jurisdiction when he made the arrest.

So in the land of the free and the home of the brave, protest against fearless leader is permitted only where fearless leader is not likely to see it.

Free Americans used to laugh at countries that engaged in such shenanigans. It was seen as proof that dictators were often weak and foolish people.

Free Americans were right to think so.

So with the convention coming up, it comes as no surprise that the local police are busy setting up a "First Amendment Zone," out of sight of dignitaries and cameras, so they can show that America is the land of the free and the home of the brave without the embarrassment and inconvenience of being actually free and brave.

As befits second-class citizens who are standing to embarrass elected officials, the First Amendment Zone is a first class dump, an urban wasteland, a bleak expanse of shattered concrete and broken glass, bereft of shade or running water.

Between the bleak urban moonscape, the razor wire, and the sight of thousands of people standing silently behind the wire, authorities probably saw a disconcerting similarity to images of prisoners behind the fences at Nazi concentration camps, and moved to address the situation. They ruled that only a maximum of 1,000 inmates - that is, demonstrators - would be permitted in the "First Amendment Zone" instead of 4,000. That way, it wouldn't look quite so much like Auschwitz.

Of course, the rationale being given is that they want to "prevent terrorism" - in the apparent belief that terrorists would have a strategy of flocking to the most heavily guarded and protected site outside of Washington, DC.

I just happened to watch the 1962 movie classic, "The Manchurian Candidate," tonight, and so it's pretty hard not to be sensitive to the need for security at a major political convention.

It's also hard not to remember the 1968 Chicago convention, where protesters were noisy and uncooperative with police, and the Chicago police overreacted grotesquely.

But in this case, large numbers of protesters aren't expected, and most of those are people who plan to vote for the nominee anyway, but just want to get their particular points of interest shown on TV and exposed to the Democratic delegates.

That's right. I said Democratic delegates. This vile little "First Amendment Zone" is in Boston, a block from the Democratic National Convention.

Think about that. Who is going to show up to protest? Small groups from special interests such as PETA or ACTUP. Perhaps some Naderites. A sprinkling of right wing whack jobs from outfits such as Free Republic and Moving America Forward.

Maybe a couple of thousand people all told, and definitely not a group likely to riot and shut down the whole city.

The Republicans will have First Amendment Zones. They know a lot of people hate them, and those people aren't terrorists. They have two objectives: keep protesters from the convention, and hide from the general public the fact that the protesters are ordinary Americans, with nary a terrorist nor a commie among them.

And, of course, to protect Putsch's delusion that he is well-liked or capable as President.

Crappy excuses for things like "First Amendment Zones" in the land of the free and the home of the brave, but at least excuses. Democrats don't even have that. They don't have good reason to fear loyal Americans expressing other points of view like Republicans have. They don't have a brittle and weak figurehead who can't be expected to control himself when face to face with dissenters like the Republicans have. They aren't populated by cowardly goosesteppers who know they are trying to thwart the will of the people the way Republicans are.

Democrats should abandon the notion of a "First Amendment Zone," and settle for just making sure that the convention building, and the main access routes, are secure.

To support the cowardly and Republican "First Amendment Zones" is to say to the world that they are just as cowardly, brittle, and weak as Republicans.

Posted: July 26, 2004


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