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Right at the beginning of the Bill of Rights, our Constitution clearly protects American citizens’ right to speak freely on political issues. The First Amendment promises that “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble.”
The Constitution doesn’t grant them an audience; it doesn’t promise that anyone will listen to them, or read their writings or join in their demonstration. It just allows them to do it, and leaves it up to local and state governments to manage reasonable conditions, such as volume, hours, permits, and public safety.
Today - Parks - Founding - Era - Outlets
Today, we have more public parks to speak in than we did in the Founding era, and infinitely more publication outlets, from newspapers and magazines to local print shops and websites. We have thousands of cable TV channels and radio stations; we have podcasts and CDs. The means of getting one’s message out – without inconveniencing anyone – are practically unlimited.
Cities and park services set rules in place for the acquisition of permits for parades and demonstrations, setting reasonable restrictions on their ability to disrupt traffic or inconvenience commerce. Big cities must consider such issues as rush hour traffic and existing road closures from construction; the National Parks consider the many tourists who planned for months for this day to visit the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, or the Golden Gate Bridge, perhaps crossing the country to do it.
Minority - Activists - Right - Regulations - Majority
The minority of political activists have a right to be heard, the regulations rightly declare, but the vast majority of nonpolitical pedestrians and travelers have every right to go about their business unmolested as well.
In a republic, government is about finding balance.
Today - Demonstrators - Goal
And yet, today, we see more demonstrators than ever whose goal seems to be as much about inconveniencing...
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