Free Speech?

June 26, 2012 in News by CourtneyHorne

If you want to speak in a park, on a sidewalk, or some other public space, you are free to do so as long as you are not threatening others, endangering people with your speech, or breaking obscenity laws. Freedom of speech seems to be pretty clear.

Or at least that is the belief that most Americans have. Evidently that isn’t the belief of the Capitol police who have had someone arrested months later for “disturbing the peace” by speaking on the capitol steps. They also claim he resisted arrest though in the video of the incident it seems that they did not make it clear whether they wanted to arrest him or just chase him away. Perhaps speaking about the problems in our democracy seems obscene to the Capitol police and therefore inappropriate for public spaces.

Requiring a permit to speak in a public place is an effort to set a barrier to entry to public speech. Getting a permit requires an application process which the state does not make easy for non traditional organizations. Filling out their form in a way that can be saved requires costly software. If you fill it out without the software you have to print it directly from the computer it was filled out on. If you don’t have a printer? Good luck. Oh and you can’t mail them the form, email or fax only. Email requires the form be filled out with the costly software so faxing becomes the only option. Don’t have a fax machine? Guess you need to go to an office store. It may not seem like a lot to a typical political organization but having a form that isn’t easy for an organization without its own office discourages non traditional groups from even applying for permits.

Want to read more about the arrest of an individual who simply wanted to be able to share his beliefs on steps that all our tax dollars paid for?   has the video of the “peace disturbance” and more info from our brothers and sisters in occupy the stage, nola.