Pubdate: Sun, 18 Jan 2004
Source: Knoxville News-Sentinel (TN)
Copyright: 2004 The Knoxville News-Sentinel Co.
Author: Ed Putkonen
Note: One of three PUB LTEs on this issue in this issue


The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution asserts, "Congress shall make 
no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right 
of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a 
redress of grievances."

Nowhere within the text of this amendment does it state that these freedoms 
are protected only as long as this speech occurs in a designated free 
speech zone. According to the Bush-Cheney-Ashcroft interpretation of the 
Constitution, freedom of speech and the right to voice dissent can be 
restricted, fenced-in and walled off as needed.

I guess as Americans we've just been under the wrong impression that our 
entire country was a free speech zone.

I guess there must be some fine print hiding in the First Amendment.

When President Bush made his appearance in Knoxville on Jan. 8, the Secret 
Service and the Knoxville Police Department forced those who wished to 
voice their dissent against the direction he is leading this country into a 
designated free speech zone.

Apparently, those who do not share Bush's views and disagree with his 
policies are deemed such a threat to the president that they must be 
treated like potential terrorists.

It is Orwellian nonsense that free speech zones need to be established for 
the protection and safety of these Americans who wish to speak out against 
this administration.

Yet that is the empty rationale we hear from the Secret Service and local 
law enforcement, including the Knoxville Police Department, every time Bush 
makes an appearance.

The only thing this provides a protection for is the risk that Bush might 
accidentally catch a glimpse of caring, honest, loyal, hard-working 
Americans who do not like the ruinous path he is leading us on.

We can only hope the lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union 
and other liberty-minded organizations, pressure on behalf of our 
congressional delegations and protests from energized citizens will help 
turn the tide and restore First Amendment freedoms to all Americans, not 
just those who support the administration through $1,000-a-plate luncheons.


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