Pubdate: Mon, 31 Mar 2008
Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Copyright: 2008 Globe Newspaper Company
Author: Chuck Rossina


PRESERVING Boston Common should mean much more than keeping the grass
green ("Large events may become uncommon at city's beloved park," Page
B1, March 20). The Common was America 's very first public grounds and
the city should not regulate away the right of the people to assemble
peaceably there for the sake of a greener lawn. If greener grass is
what the city wants, they can achieve that by not allowing dogs to
urinate on the grounds. Boston Parks Department maintenance people
have told anyone who asks that dog urine, not peaceable assemblies, is
what damages the grass most.

The city's own website says, "Boston Common continues to be a stage
for free speech and public assembly. Here, during the 20th century,
Charles Lindbergh promoted commercial aviation. Anti-Vietnam War and
civil right rallies were held, including one led by Martin Luther King
Jr. In 1979, Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass." If large assemblies
are prohibited that will have to be changed to, "Boston Common used to
be a stage for free speech and public assembly."

That the Menino administration gives no value to the Common as a
historic place of public assembly is no surprise. A justice of the
Superior Court had to order the city in 1997 and 1998 to allow the
Boston Freedom Rally permission to assemble. If not for
MassCann/Norml, sponsors of the rally, and the ACLU of Massachusetts,
the right to assemble on Boston Common would have been effectively
prohibited years ago.

Anyone who cares about free speech rights should be alarmed by
attempts to take away our right to assemble on Boston Common. That it
may become necessary to defend that right on Boston Common again is

Chuck Rossina

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