Dancing at the Memorial of a Slave Owner

Jefferson Memorial

Photo: Prisonblues (CC)

Saturday, around 50 people held a demonstration through dance at the Jefferson Memorial in southern Washington, D.C., which overlooks the Potomac River. Over 2,000 people had testified on Facebook that they would show up, but these testimonials apparently turned out to be the Internet’s letting off steam.

A week before, U.S. Park Police arrested five protesters for silently dancing in the memorial, which they did in response to the April 12, 2008 arrest of Mary Oberwetter, a 28-year-old D.C. resident, who was eventually charged with “interfering with agency functions.”

The video of recent arrests received in its first 24 hours well over 100,00 views and, at the time of this writing, nearly 900,000. Russia Today journalist and 2010 House Candidate Adam Kokesh, a self-described Ron Paul Republican, found himself thrown to the ground and, briefly, even choked, last weekend for dancing, as he said, in celebration of the principles of Thomas Jefferson.

Recently, the Washington Post ran a consensus editorial claiming that by silently dancing in the memorial, the protesters had in fact justifiably invited their booking and whatever force shown to them. “If it goes anything like previous ones, it will not be pretty,” wrote the Post‘s editors, adding, “And that won’t be the fault of the U.S. Park Police.” However, Saturday’s protest did go a great deal better than the previous weekend’s. There was no resorting to direct violence, but in the face of protesters already backed off to the steps of the memorial, where the Post’s editors swore back and forth that “anyone is free to polka,” police were in fact brandishing automatic rifles.

Speaking on the steps of the memorial just minutes before the noon start of the demonstration, Medea Benjamin, co-founder of activist group Code Pink and one of the five arrested the previous week, lamented that the “pursuit of happiness” advertised in the Declaration of Independence, authored largely by Jefferson, was outside the prerogative of the defense by Park Police in the memorial. She cited the unobtrusive nature of listening to headphones and silently dancing in commemoration of the declaration’s author.

The popularity of the subsequent video footage on Kokesh’s blog, “Adam Vs The Man” – even as other nonviolent protesters in Bahrain and Syria faced permanent injury if not total execution – displayed the degree to which the treatment of the protesters was clearly outraging many domestically.

The heart of the matter is a view of whether celebration of Jefferson’s ideals can even be done by dancing inside the memorial . Dancing is “distracting from the atmosphere of solemn commemoration,” agreed an appellate court with the original lower-court decision Kokesh et. al. were initially protesting. There seems to be an at least popularly-enough held skepticism that in fact any sort of dance-based celebration can even earnestly be done in honor of Thomas Jefferson. However, in the face of Jefferson’s legacy that people of the majority of ethnicities should live free or die, the brandishing of automatic rifles and tear gas canisters in the face of harmless expression seems a more serious defiling of that spirit of “solemn commemoration.”

The point of Americans who genuinely believe that dancing in a public memorial warrants its closing to the public, daresay violence against dancers, is that disbelief that the dancing is even being done in sincere celebration of the ideals of the First Amendment, an high-minded ideal that in reality has always been subject in one way or another to restrictions of minor status, obscenity, sedition or national security restrictions, or the general popularity of one’s ideas.

During the exchange with Benjamin, Tighe Barry, who was also one of the five arrested last week for dancing, said, “I think Jefferson would have said a long time ago that it’s time for government to grow up. If he were to spring up alive right now, he wouldn’t know what to make of any of this. I do know from the words that he said he would have changed the laws that are antiquated and outdated. He doesn’t seem like the person that would ever want a memorial that would be solemn and you have to come and pray to a certain god.”

Jefferson, on record discouraging celebrations of his birthday and whose grave marker does not mention his highest office of the presidency, is the figurative “god” to which Barry is saying that the courts’ decisions have demanded reverence.

The Washington Post’s editors would blatantly participate in libel against the protesters, saying “a group of self-proclaimed libertarians who decided to defy the court on Memorial Day weekend.” Barry and his girlfriend, Code Pink Cofounder Medea Benjamin, are obvious socialists, as indicated by, among many things, their not-so-subtle habit of wearing pink clothing.

Barry would also fire back at the editorial’s charge that the “dancers’ energy and presumably good intentions would be better channeled by addressing real injustices.”

“I was in Tahrir Square [in Cairo, Egypt], looking – I was there for the entire revolution. I was looking for someone from The Washington Post editorial board to come out and say something about what was going on. And they waited and waited until the very last minute, when they figured out who was going to win and then they editorialized. You know, this is the Washington [Post] editorial board. You know, they need to straighten it out.”

After approximately 10 minutes of silently dancing, which began roughly around noon, a few protesters immediately began silently dancing, apparently without any requests that they stop dancing. After another 10 minutes, approximately 50 people had joined in and were making their way in a conga line around the statue of Jefferson himself. Clearly upping the ante from the previous complaint that they had not been allowed to silently dance, the emboldened crowd began yelling slogans and cheering jubilantly, several chanting the text of the First Amendment. As the circular marchers made passes by, Kokesh stopped, roughly in front of me, and made a point of accepting handshakes from generally admiring coprotesters.

Recording video on phone, it was apparent that the initial discussed tactic of the police was to walk up to protesters and simply ask them to leave, if they felt like dancing. I didn’t hear any of those initial conversations up close, but their occurrence was apparent because individuals would began asking others to not leave, because that’s, as some protesters loudly suggested, when the police would begin their arrests. No matter one’s conclusions about the rights of Kokesh et al and those of the original demonstrator, Oberwetter, to silently dance, by the time the monument was shut down a week later after the first Kokesh protest, activists had chosen to turn their new demonstration into a markedly less silent one.

Without announcement, the police had put up a metal barrier at the entrance to the memorial, without any sort of public announcement. This tactic was effective insofar that it made it so that police didn’t have to block people, with their own bodies, from coming back in once they had left. However the tactic was not so effective because it also made it difficult to comply with their orders, once requested to do so. Once asked to leave, this reporter attempted to make his way out of the meter-wide gap in the barrier, only to find it impossible to get out through the line of camera-bearers all too intent on capturing more salacious police brutality, if in fact it went down.

Unable to make my way out of the gap, which I was facing, trying to push my way through, and refusing no request, a Park Police officer shoved this reporter into the crowd of not-budging cameramen. It was unnecessary force, but their motivations were clear enough. If the police did not apply at least a little unnecessary force this time, they stood to lose even more face than they obviously did last weekend, when as Kokesh said to RT, they were inundated with angry phone calls, which, he suggested, could have expedited the release of the libertarian and socialist protesters.

You can see it in my footage after I’m shoved: My hand is shaking. Memories of last week’s footage came back to me. While I never feared for an instant that, on account of the dancers, foreign tourists would think less highly of Jefferson or America, I did fear, perhaps irrationally, that police would begin a disastrous power trip that could end with a lot of hurt people. In light of more substantially more egregious civil rights abuses, it easy to, as did The Washington Post, dismiss the cause of dancing in the Jefferson Memorial as trivial. At the same time, it is impossible to at the same time, maintaining consistency, suggest that the police actions, up to and including the mere closing of the memorial, in response to such trivial actions are more warranted. The pretense of this solemnity enforcement is that it will stop ridicule of Jefferson or impress upon visitors an “appropriate” regard for the man, when the idea that a law can enforce such a genuine internal consideration is an illusion, a mirage.

As I reported for the Buffalo BEAST back at Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally in front of the Lincoln Memorial, the naïve idealism of some American Revolutionary revivalists is really quite striking. It is the product of a grade-school indoctrination Americans receive, one not unlike that of many country’s citizens regarding still-vogue leaders past. It reminded me of being in the 4th grade in a school in Virginia hearing my teacher ask, sure, slavery was bad, but what were some of its benefits.

I caught this same tone repeatedly at the Jefferson Memorial dance-off, between the chants of “TJ, TJ” and blood-boiled, screeching testimonials to Jefferson’s beyond-reproach character.

Last weekend, I was at the Mount Vernon home of the first constitutional president of the United States, George Washington, and in a line of tourists on the veranda. The lawn was quite vast, and the general had ordered his chattel slaves to have it cut with a scythe. Mind you, this was not a farming operation for the production of food; this was a prurient and petty exercise in aesthetics.

A guide was stationed out on the porch, with arm’s length of me.

“How many human beings did George Washington own? Eight hundred? A thousand?” I inquired, not stuttering, but the guide appeared mildly repulsed by the question, her chin pulling backwards in a kind of micro-whiplash, and then she asked me if I were asking about the general’s land-holding acreage, before I made a clarification, and she told me he owned more than 300 people.

It seems pretty clear that Jefferson would have been outrageously offended that people were facing police action, quite possibly to the point of advocating lethal-force resistance to the officers on the scene. Of course, this would have been and would be an evil mistake, but it goes to show the weakness of appealing to Jefferson’s authority itself to justify this resistance.

Somewhere around the 12:20 p.m. peak of the dancing, Kokesh stopped to face the throng of journalists, bloggers or onlookers to proclaim how acts of disobedience of this type were cardinal to bringing down the state. It was a thought-provoking comment. If the purpose of the action were to collapse the state itself, what monuments would there within which armed guards were to regulate behavior in the first place?

After the event, Kokesh said that, were he only allowed to not pay taxes, he would gladly give up his claim of access to the memorial.

It was then, after police had forced everyone willing to go out, Kokesh was on the steps bull-horning back at the stragglers in the sanctum and their onlookers, proclaiming that “the people had won” and requested that no one risk arrest at that point. The police’s granting 30 minutes from dancing’s starting until my being asked to leave, at least individually as a bystander, seemed tacit acknowledgment of wrongdoing.

A group of tourists told me that if the protesters inside had truly wished to fight for freedom, they should simply enlist, presumably to go fight in missions like that most tolling in Afghanistan, where some recent polling has shown that perhaps as many as 80 percent or more of men believe that the NATO mission is bad for Afghans, and NATO forces openly refuse to comply with President Hamid Karzai’s demands that they stop air attacks on houses.

It was fascinating to see a conception that their own personal liberties were maintained through military operations in a country where soldiers are largely undesired, and whose actions are roundly condemned by the elected leadership in place.

By the refreshment stand near the Jefferson Memorial around 1 p.m., a mid-30s man was yelling at another at the top of his lungs, swearing upon “the altar of God” “eternal hostility” to that tourist, blaming him and his ilk, not the police, for the monument’s closing.

The tourist complained that foreign tourists, families, and his prepubescent son were not able to see the memorial they had traveled to view. He indicated that the dancer yelling at him believed that “his rights were more important than mine,” adding “[my family pays] the bills to keep that open. You got it closed. You people got it closed. Congratulations.”

“We families,” he would continue, “we get our rights violated because you insist on being a buffoon. That’s what happened. That’s what happened. My rights are more important because I have a right to go in there and enjoy the monument.” The tourist would personally charge that the law can enforce a “solemn atmosphere” in the monument.

The tourist’s blood still boiling, I attempted to get his consideration of the predicament of another protesters, who had brought several of his young children, that police had told him that his children would be taken into protective custody if he stayed at the memorial. As that father stood far outside of the sanctum of the memorial, talking to his children, an officer approached them and said, “If you get caught up in the sweep, they go down also. It’s child services, just letting you know.

I asked the tourist how exactly that officer’s request was in particular consideration of families. He did not answer the question, which encouraged me to ask him point-blank if indeed the protester’s children should have been placed into custody.

The frustrated tourist declined to answer this question directly but did indicate his sense that the police, who were carrying Armalite assault rifles in the face of dancing protesters, “didn’t do enough.”

As onlookers reacted belligerently to this claim, the tourist’s son said, “I’ve learned nothing from you.”

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  • Hadrian999

    the slave owner bit is childish, judging the past by the morals and ethics of today is useless. I doubt there is any leader of that era who wouldn’t offend the delicate sensibilities of people today who yearn for the opportunity to be offended by someone.

    • Jin The Ninja

       No it’s not harsh. It’s historical.  I, personally, respect many of Jefferson’s points. He WAS, in my view, the definitive patriarch of american political philosophy. However, this is does not mean a critical gaze cannot be placed on his actions, ideas or beliefs. Jefferson at least advocated for a more direct democracy- It was Hamilton and Adams who advocated for the protections of the minority (wealthy, landowning, white men) against the majority (everyone else). He is a historical figure and thus subject to critical discussion. Was being a slave-owner his defining quality? No. He contributed much to political discourse and ideas of democracy; however it is a prominent and unsightly feature that one must remember in the context of american history. Much like one must remember the genocide of indigenous americans by euro-colonisers in order to exploit the resources of this land. This enhances (greatly) the NEED for TRUE democracy, and for social justice. If Jefferson is associated with slave-ownership, then for me it provokes an important discussion of democracy. A discussion that is sorely lacking from the MSM.

      • Hadrian999

        nearly every industry at the time in america was linked to slavery, remembering the bad things is one thing but slave ownership had nothing to do with the discussion at hand it was just a cheapshot. the true democracy you seem is a myth, it will never happen, people are too gullible for that to happen.

        • Jin The Ninja

           we’ve had this discussion before, and i respect your opinion. However i cannot see how it is “cheap” to refer to the historical practices of someone who is continually praised upon and referenced endlessly in the context to american democracy/history. Perhaps i am altogether more critical of the constant whitewashing of history than some.

          • Haystack

            There’s a difference between whitewashing and pointlessly referring to him as a “slave owner” in the headline of an article that doesn’t have anything to do with race or slavery. 

          • Hadrian999

            it is irrelevant regarding the issue at hand, the treatment of dancers on public land by government forces.
            if the story was economic development and early American values it would be fair game.

          • Geist

            My Enquirer subscription publishes thing like this, want to borrow some?

          • Hadrian999

            inquiring minds want to know

          • Tuna Ghost

            I think its more of a “time and place” issue.  Using that information in the way that the author has is more than a little disingenuous and cheap.  

      • An Idiot

        Wow, what an idiotic statement. Slavery has nothing to do with what is going on. It was just said because the reporter wanted the cops to seem justified in some way. Long (LONG) article short, it was unconstitutional to do what the police did that day. End of story.

        • Jin The Ninja

          Did you even read what i wrote? i did not refer to or defend the article. I was simply asserting that i disagree, categorically, with the white washing of american history. Ad hominem attacks do nothing to prove your point, rather they assert your own ignorance of any given topic.

        • Tuna Ghost

          I don’t see how it was “unconstitutional”.  A court has ruled that dancing is a distraction in an area that is supposed to be for solemn reflection.  I also happen to find dancing to be a distraction, I don’t see how one can argue that it isn’t in a place that is (supposed to be) a place for solemnity and reflection.

          • Ugh

            Your defense of a law that was obviously made out of spite and fear is disgusting.

          • Tuna Ghost

            I notice you didn’t address my question.  Also, I don’t think for a minute you can back up your claim that the law was made out of “fear” or spite.  Its a ridiculous assertion, but if it makes you feel better hell keep going

    • FrankRizzo

      I agree. 

    • http://www.chronicle.su/ chronicle.su

      OFFENSE OFFENSE OFFENSE. It’s the same today as it was back then. If you are easily offended, then you’re too weak for critical thought and should go back to church.

  • Hadrian999

    the slave owner bit is childish, judging the past by the morals and ethics of today is useless. I doubt there is any leader of that era who wouldn’t offend the delicate sensibilities of people today who yearn for the opportunity to be offended by someone.

  • http://profiles.google.com/saintzedofourlostyouth R Z

     No it’s not harsh. It’s historical.  I, personally, respect many of Jefferson’s points. He WAS, in my view, the definitive patriarch of american political philosophy. However, this is does not mean a critical gaze cannot be placed on his actions, ideas or beliefs. Jefferson at least advocated for a more direct democracy- It was Hamilton and Adams who advocated for the protections of the minority (wealthy, landowning, white men) against the majority (everyone else). He is a historical figure and thus subject to critical discussion. Was being a slave-owner his defining quality? No. He contributed much to political discourse and ideas of democracy; however it is a prominent and unsightly feature that one must remember in the context of american history. Much like one must remember the genocide of indigenous americans by euro-colonisers in order to exploit the resources of this land. This enhances (greatly) the NEED for TRUE democracy, and for social justice. If Jefferson is associated with slave-ownership, then for me it provokes an important discussion of democracy. A discussion that is sorely lacking from the MSM.

  • Hadrian999

    nearly every industry at the time in america was linked to slavery, remembering the bad things is one thing but slave ownership had nothing to do with the discussion at hand it was just a cheapshot. the true democracy you seem is a myth, it will never happen, people are too gullible for that to happen.

  • An Idiot

    Wow, what an idiotic statement. Slavery has nothing to do with what is going on. It was just said because the reporter wanted the cops to seem justified in some way. Long (LONG) article short, it was unconstitutional to do what the police did that day. End of story.

  • http://profiles.google.com/saintzedofourlostyouth R Z

    Did you even read what i wrote? i did not refer to or defend the article. I was simply asserting that i disagree, categorically, with the white washing of american history. Ad hominem attacks do nothing to prove your point, rather they assert your own ignorance of any given topic.

  • http://profiles.google.com/saintzedofourlostyouth R Z

     we’ve had this discussion before, and i respect your opinion. However i cannot see how it is “cheap” to refer to the historical practices of someone who is continually praised upon and referenced endlessly in the context to american democracy/history. Perhaps i am altogether more critical of the constant whitewashing of history than some.

  • Haystack

    There’s a difference between whitewashing and pointlessly referring to him as a “slave owner” in the headline of an article that doesn’t have anything to do with race or slavery. 

  • Hadrian999

    it is irrelevant regarding the issue at hand, the treatment of dancers on public land by government forces.
    if the story was economic development and early American values it would be fair game.

  • FrankRizzo

    I agree. 

  • Geist

    My Enquirer subscription publishes thing like this, want to borrow some?

  • Hadrian999

    inquiring minds want to know

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nicholas-Lowder/100002305117736 Nicholas Lowder

    dancing is a sin, just like any other form of expression, unless it agrees with the god that men made in their image, may John Lithgow bless us everyone. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nicholas-Lowder/100002305117736 Nicholas Lowder

    dancing is a sin, just like any other form of expression, unless it agrees with the god that men made in their image, may John Lithgow bless us everyone. 

  • Anonymous

    Yes, this has nothing to do with slavery at all. It actually confuses the point

  • MoralDrift

    Yes, this has nothing to do with slavery at all. It actually confuses the point

  • DeepCough

    I think it would have been just a teeny-weeny bit more relevant to–oh, I don’t know–point out that Mr. Jefferson was the fucking originator of the Bill of Rights, but who gives a shit about that anymore?

  • DeepCough

    I think it would have been just a teeny-weeny bit more relevant to–oh, I don’t know–point out that Mr. Jefferson was the fucking originator of the Bill of Rights, but who gives a shit about that anymore?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nicholas-Lowder/100002305117736 Nicholas Lowder

    historians care about the bill of rights, but hopefully not too much once it’s entirely gone. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nicholas-Lowder/100002305117736 Nicholas Lowder

    historians care about the bill of rights, but hopefully not too much once it’s entirely gone. 

  • Demineus

    someone should dance at the Pike memorial 

  • Demineus

    someone should dance at the Pike memorial 

  • http://twitter.com/TylerBass Tyler Bass

    I’ll just disambiguate for your fine folks. Thanks for reading the article, by the way.

    Obviously, people should be able to dance in this memorial. PERIOD. End of story.

    But people who go around calling Jefferson some freedom god or something SERIOUSLY need to wake up and smell the reality. This is no more tragic because it’s Jefferson. It’s tragic because dancing silently is totally harmless and your government needs to wake up from the dream that it could possibly enforce true solemnity in the first place.

  • http://twitter.com/TylerBass Tyler Bass

    I’ll just disambiguate for your fine folks. Thanks for reading the article, by the way.

    Obviously, people should be able to dance in this memorial. PERIOD. End of story.

    But people who go around calling Jefferson some freedom god or something SERIOUSLY need to wake up and smell the reality. This is no more tragic because it’s Jefferson. It’s tragic because dancing silently is totally harmless and your government needs to wake up from the dream that it could possibly enforce true solemnity in the first place.

    • Tuna Ghost

      It can’t “enforce” solemnity, but it can take steps to keep others from being a distraction.  If a space is meant for solemn reflection, dancing (even without music) is very obviously a distraction.  Whether or not the Jefferson Memorial is or is not actually used as a place for solemn reflection is not really relevant.  It is marked as such a space, and the Gov’t has the right to take steps to keep distractions out.  

      I’m not sure why some feel that dancing in such a place is a “right”.  Can you elaborate on that?

      • Simiantongue

        “I’m not sure why some feel that dancing in such a place is a “right”.  Can you elaborate on that?”

        Sure I will elaborate. There are two somewhat opposing lines of thought about “rights”. There is somewhat of a clear demarcation between Europeans and Americans about this. See, many European people have hard won rights over centuries from very authoritarian structures, like the sovereign powers of churches and royalty for example. Thus leading to the common perception that rights are “given” over to people and enumerated(listed) from those authorities.

        However in the US we have a different history. The general idea of the founding fathers was that all rights are inherent in the people, they are inalienable. What we do in our society is assume that people have the right to everything. Then we give the government, as elected by us, authority over some of those rights as a sort of steward. The forefathers even amended the constitution, that doing such does not infer any type of enumeration of rights. They knew that listing rights as they do in most European societies will mean that any rights not listed will be snatched up by those in authority. As governments are just human like you and I in positions of power and people are wont to do such things. The forefathers were not entirely dim and were pretty good student of human nature.

        Still many in the US do not understand this history and think of  the constitution as an enumeration of rights. Mostly those of an authoritarian mindset. You may hear people say things like “Where does it give us that right in the constitution, show me?”.  Or, you might hear someone say “The first amendment gives us the right to free speech” etc… But if you actually read the constitution or specifically the first amendment for this example, you will see that it does not “give” us the right to free speech. It is merely a restriction on government to abridge that right that already exists and is inherent.

        So in effect everything in the US is a ‘right’. Such as dancing. Government passed a restriction that says dancing, in this particular instance, is prohibited. Thus abridging that right. These people disagree and are protesting.

        • Tuna Ghost

          Huh!  Informative and reasonable.  I guess my only question now is why exactly the protesters feel that the court ruling is unjust or infringing upon their personal rights. 

          • Hadrian999

            if the right of freedom of expression is void when it contradicts the governments intended message then we don’t have freedom of expression at all.

          • Tuna Ghost

            Hmm I was under the impression that memorials were generally intended as places for solemn reflection, not just by the gov’t.  What exactly is the “message” that dancing contradicts?

    • Jahopson Tx

      What you say about enforcing solemnity is true – but if I were in, say, a cemetary visiting a loved ones grave, and a group of students were a few feet away from me dancing…. it wouldn’t sit well with me…would it you? And yes, this is a similar situation. It is a place of reflection and introspection, just on a larger scale, where we are the societal unit. Jefferson was a great man; he was so far ahead of his peers with regard to society and democracy. Slavery was an unfortunate aspect of the times – there were good, beneficent men who held slaves and took good care of them, treated them with decency and human respect. It  doesn’t make slavery right, but it speaks of the individual owner. They weren’t all whippers/beaters/lynchers as the media likes to portray it. A black man is president today because of the ideas that Jefferson and other founding fathers put forth back then – even with times as they were.

  • Drewhempel

    I read the judge’s legal statement and his logic is way off.  The law say a demonstration is “expressing a view or grievance.  The judge says dancing is “expressive” — but that doesn’t mean it’s expressing a “view” or “grievance.”  Hello?  That kind of loose logic shouldn’t be allowed by judges.

    The judge then states that just because no permit is needed for less than 25 people since permits are not granted then if you have less than 25 people that doesn’t mean there are no requirements.  Who said there were no requirements?  No one –  but the judge jumps to that conclusion.  Obviously silent dancing is not the same as “no requirements.”

    I’m glad there was a followup protest.

  • Drewhempel

    I read the judge’s legal statement and his logic is way off.  The law say a demonstration is “expressing a view or grievance.  The judge says dancing is “expressive” — but that doesn’t mean it’s expressing a “view” or “grievance.”  Hello?  That kind of loose logic shouldn’t be allowed by judges.

    The judge then states that just because no permit is needed for less than 25 people since permits are not granted then if you have less than 25 people that doesn’t mean there are no requirements.  Who said there were no requirements?  No one –  but the judge jumps to that conclusion.  Obviously silent dancing is not the same as “no requirements.”

    I’m glad there was a followup protest.

  • Tuna Ghost

    I don’t see how it was “unconstitutional”.  A court has ruled that dancing is a distraction in an area that is supposed to be for solemn reflection.  I also happen to find dancing to be a distraction, I don’t see how one can argue that it isn’t in a place that is (supposed to be) a place for solemnity and reflection.

  • Tuna Ghost

    It can’t “enforce” solemnity, but it can take steps to keep others from being a distraction.  If a space is meant for solemn reflection, dancing (even without music) is very obviously a distraction.  Whether or not the Jefferson Memorial is or is not actually used as a place for solemn reflection is not really relevant.  It is marked as such a space, and the Gov’t has the right to take steps to keep distractions out.  

    I’m not sure why some feel that dancing in such a place is a “right”.  Can you elaborate on that?

  • Tuna Ghost

    I think its more of a “time and place” issue.  Using that information in the way that the author has is more than a little disingenuous and cheap.  

  • Anonymous

    The fustrated tourist was a shmuck typical of the kinds of people who let these interpretations of the law stand in the first place. Yes you got locked out of the memorial, but you should realize it’s because of the obnoxious law, not because of the protestors.

  • SF2K01

    The fustrated tourist was a shmuck typical of the kinds of people who let these interpretations of the law stand in the first place. Yes you got locked out of the memorial, but you should realize it’s because of the obnoxious law, not because of the protestors.

  • Monkeypox

    Jefferson actually wrote in several letters that he abhorred slavery and would free his slaves if his creditors would let him. He was way ahead of his time.

  • Monkeypox

    Jefferson actually wrote in several letters that he abhorred slavery and would free his slaves if his creditors would let him. He was way ahead of his time.

  • http://twitter.com/TylerBass Tyler Bass

    @tunaghost:disqus Look, if you really feel so entitled to not be distracted by silencing dancing people, you feel you deserve to paid government mercs to come violently choke and toss around dancers on your behalf, you really are . . . well, I’ll just let you fill in the blankety blanks. But seriously you feel good about that?

    I don’t know you, but your statements makes me less surprised why every four years innocent, cooperative people get whoopins at both major American party political conventions. That train is never late. It probably never can be now.

    @2986e441a6a50a14a9409cdc79dca133:disqus
     Madison wrote the Bill of Rights.

  • http://twitter.com/TylerBass Tyler Bass

    @tunaghost:disqus Look, if you really feel so entitled to not be distracted by silencing dancing people, you feel you deserve to paid government mercs to come violently choke and toss around dancers on your behalf, you really are . . . well, I’ll just let you fill in the blankety blanks. But seriously you feel good about that?

    I don’t know you, but your statements makes me less surprised why every four years innocent, cooperative people get whoopins at both major American party political conventions. That train is never late. It probably never can be now.

    @2986e441a6a50a14a9409cdc79dca133:disqus
     Madison wrote the Bill of Rights.

    • Jahopson Tx

      They were given multiple opportunities to cease what they were doing, and they did not, hence, they were daring the cops to arrest them, and they did. They wouldn’t even submit to arrest (if I didn’t want to be pushed to the ground and wrangled into cuffs, then I’d put my hands behind me and allow them to cuff me. Cops get frustrated and react badly, then delusional, idealistic little college liberal hippie kids taunt them into action that turns out just like this did. I’m NOT republican by ANY means but I am NOT democrat either. College kids + cops that are tired of foolishness = debacle like this one. These kids are back in class laughing about this now in between sips of Red Bull.

      • http://twitter.com/TylerBass Tyler Bass

        If by “delusional, hippie, idealist kid” you mean “ex-Marine, ex-Battle of Fallujah, libertarian, ex-Republican House candidate” like Kokesh, I’m right there with you.

        The actual arrested hippies there were at least in their late 40s.

    • Tuna Ghost

      I have no idea what you mean by your “feel good” comment, or why you would assume some connection between me and protestors getting beaten at political conventions.  Feel free to elaborate on that as well.

      My actual question, simply put, is why do you feel that, in a place reserved for solemn reflection, distracting others from that solemn reflection is your “right”?  

  • Jahopson Tx

    If we’re going gauge Jefferson’s efficacy based on a 1700’s take on slavery, then what of the christian apostle Paul, who embraced slavery and prescribed “rules” for master-slave relations in the New Testament (Oh yes, he did!)? As antiquated societal rules go, does a Jew still, in these times, still stone a woman to death publicly if she’s caught in adultery? If a man shames his parents is he still stoned to death also? Does a christian still tell his wife to sit on the other side of the church and keep her mouth shut-not allowed to speak, not allowed to teach, etc., etc.? It is a matter of historical record that Jefferson was certainly NOT cruel to his slaves, he was quite the humanitarian. These kids that were “dancing” will be totally embarrassed by this when they are older and wiser. They will realize how completely idiotic they looked and what an enormous waste of energy and time the whole debacle was. There are causes out there that are worthy of time and attention – this one was purely the foolishness of youth.

  • Jahopson Tx

    If we’re going gauge Jefferson’s efficacy based on a 1700’s take on slavery, then what of the christian apostle Paul, who embraced slavery and prescribed “rules” for master-slave relations in the New Testament (Oh yes, he did!)? As antiquated societal rules go, does a Jew still, in these times, still stone a woman to death publicly if she’s caught in adultery? If a man shames his parents is he still stoned to death also? Does a christian still tell his wife to sit on the other side of the church and keep her mouth shut-not allowed to speak, not allowed to teach, etc., etc.? It is a matter of historical record that Jefferson was certainly NOT cruel to his slaves, he was quite the humanitarian. These kids that were “dancing” will be totally embarrassed by this when they are older and wiser. They will realize how completely idiotic they looked and what an enormous waste of energy and time the whole debacle was. There are causes out there that are worthy of time and attention – this one was purely the foolishness of youth.

  • Nuggett

    The slavery bit is totally irrelevant.  (obviously already said here)

    On that note, Jefferson is just like any active corporate board member or elected official today.  Corporations “hire” slaves to do the dirty work which is rewarded by enough money to keep them alive to keep doing the job.  The only difference is, slaves today have a commute and a supposed decision to “quit” or find another job.  This is also anomalous with “run away”.  I guess corporations don’t chase you.  I’m sure they would if they could.

  • Nuggett

    The slavery bit is totally irrelevant.  (obviously already said here)

    On that note, Jefferson is just like any active corporate board member or elected official today.  Corporations “hire” slaves to do the dirty work which is rewarded by enough money to keep them alive to keep doing the job.  The only difference is, slaves today have a commute and a supposed decision to “quit” or find another job.  This is also anomalous with “run away”.  I guess corporations don’t chase you.  I’m sure they would if they could.

  • Jahopson Tx

    They were given multiple opportunities to cease what they were doing, and they did not, hence, they were daring the cops to arrest them, and they did. They wouldn’t even submit to arrest (if I didn’t want to be pushed to the ground and wrangled into cuffs, then I’d put my hands behind me and allow them to cuff me. Cops get frustrated and react badly, then delusional, idealistic little college liberal hippie kids taunt them into action that turns out just like this did. I’m NOT republican by ANY means but I am NOT democrat either. College kids + cops that are tired of foolishness = debacle like this one. These kids are back in class laughing about this now in between sips of Red Bull.

  • Tuna Ghost

    I have no idea what you mean by your “feel good” comment, or why you would assume some connection between me and protestors getting beaten at political conventions.  Feel free to elaborate on that as well.

    My actual question, simply put, is why do you feel that, in a place reserved for solemn reflection, distracting others from that solemn reflection is your “right”?  

  • Jahopson Tx

    What you say about enforcing solemnity is true – but if I were in, say, a cemetary visiting a loved ones grave, and a group of students were a few feet away from me dancing…. it wouldn’t sit well with me…would it you? And yes, this is a similar situation. It is a place of reflection and introspection, just on a larger scale, where we are the societal unit. Jefferson was a great man; he was so far ahead of his peers with regard to society and democracy. Slavery was an unfortunate aspect of the times – there were good, beneficent men who held slaves and took good care of them, treated them with decency and human respect. It  doesn’t make slavery right, but it speaks of the individual owner. They weren’t all whippers/beaters/lynchers as the media likes to portray it. A black man is president today because of the ideas that Jefferson and other founding fathers put forth back then – even with times as they were.

  • http://twitter.com/TylerBass Tyler Bass

    If by “delusional, hippie, idealist kid” you mean “ex-Marine, ex-Battle of Fallujah, libertarian, ex-Republican House candidate” like Kokesh, I’m right there with you.

    The actual arrested hippies there were at least in their late 40s.

  • http://www.chronicle.su/ Chronicle.SU

    OFFENSE OFFENSE OFFENSE. It’s the same today as it was back then. If you are easily offended, then you’re too weak for critical thought and should go back to church.

  • Simiantongue

    “I’m not sure why some feel that dancing in such a place is a “right”.  Can you elaborate on that?”

    Sure I will elaborate. There are two somewhat opposing lines of thought about “rights”. There is somewhat of a clear demarcation between Europeans and Americans about this. See, many European people have hard won rights over centuries from very authoritarian structures, like the sovereign powers of churches and royalty for example. Thus leading to the common perception that rights are “given” over to people and enumerated(listed) from those authorities.

    However in the US we have a different history. The general idea of the founding fathers was that all rights are inherent in the people, they are inalienable. What we do in our society is assume that people have the right to everything. Then we give the government, as elected by us, authority over some of those rights as a sort of steward. The forefathers even amended the constitution, that doing such does not infer any type of enumeration of rights. They knew that listing rights as they do in most European societies will mean that any rights not listed will be snatched up by those in authority. As governments are just human like you and I in positions of power and people are wont to do such things. The forefathers were not entirely dim and were pretty good student of human nature.

    Still many in the US do not understand this history and think of  the constitution as an enumeration of rights. Mostly those of an authoritarian mindset. You may hear people say things like “Where does it give us that right in the constitution, show me?”.  Or, you might hear someone say “The first amendment gives us the right to free speech” etc… But if you actually read the constitution or specifically the first amendment for this example, you will see that it does not “give” us the right to free speech. It is merely a restriction on government to abridge that right that already exists and is inherent.

    So in effect everything in the US is a ‘right’. Such as dancing. Government passed a restriction that says dancing, in this particular instance, is prohibited. Thus abridging that right. These people disagree and are protesting.

  • Tuna Ghost

    Huh!  Informative and reasonable.  I guess my only question now is why exactly the protesters feel that the court ruling is unjust or infringing upon their personal rights. 

  • Hadrian999

    if the right of freedom of expression is void when it contradicts the governments intended message then we don’t have freedom of expression at all.

  • Ugh

    Your defense of a law that was obviously made out of spite and fear is disgusting.

  • Pingback: Washington Vs. Jefferson — Winner: Franklin By TKO | Disinformation

  • Fred

    I think it’s interesting that so many people defend the actions of the police by saying “the protesters were asking for it”. Yes, there was clearly an attempt to provoke the police. The whole dancing protest was intended as an act of defiance and a protest for the earlier arrest. But the fact that the cops responded to this provocation highlights how far they have strayed from their nominal mission of protecting Americans. Treating this as some kind of pissing match where you can’t “back down” or “let them get away with it” because then you “look weak” is an infantile and authoritarian reaction. The authority of the police is supposed to derive from their status as protectors and keepers of the peace; yet in this case, their desire to assert their authority ended up causing a much greater disturbance to the peace than any amount of silent dancing. This is one of the points Kokesh was trying to make with this article–the idea that metal barriers, forceful arrests, and machine guns are more conducive to “solemn reflection” than a silent flash mob is totally absurd. Make no mistake, the police did not do what they did because they care so deeply about the ability for people to contemplate the memorial without distraction. They did it to prove that they could, to show that they would not tolerate defiance from the citizenry they are supposed to be guarding. It was a demonstration of authority, an attempt to intimidate Americans into docility, a naked show of force to remind us all of the State’s monopoly on violence and to keep us from getting too uppity. That is the intent every time the police break up a protest–which these days is pretty much anytime anyone protests anything.

  • Fred

    I think it’s interesting that so many people defend the actions of the police by saying “the protesters were asking for it”. Yes, there was clearly an attempt to provoke the police. The whole dancing protest was intended as an act of defiance and a protest for the earlier arrest. But the fact that the cops responded to this provocation highlights how far they have strayed from their nominal mission of protecting Americans. Treating this as some kind of pissing match where you can’t “back down” or “let them get away with it” because then you “look weak” is an infantile and authoritarian reaction. The authority of the police is supposed to derive from their status as protectors and keepers of the peace; yet in this case, their desire to assert their authority ended up causing a much greater disturbance to the peace than any amount of silent dancing. This is one of the points Kokesh was trying to make with this article–the idea that metal barriers, forceful arrests, and machine guns are more conducive to “solemn reflection” than a silent flash mob is totally absurd. Make no mistake, the police did not do what they did because they care so deeply about the ability for people to contemplate the memorial without distraction. They did it to prove that they could, to show that they would not tolerate defiance from the citizenry they are supposed to be guarding. It was a demonstration of authority, an attempt to intimidate Americans into docility, a naked show of force to remind us all of the State’s monopoly on violence and to keep us from getting too uppity. That is the intent every time the police break up a protest–which these days is pretty much anytime anyone protests anything.

  • Tuna Ghost

    I notice you didn’t address my question.  Also, I don’t think for a minute you can back up your claim that the law was made out of “fear” or spite.  Its a ridiculous assertion, but if it makes you feel better hell keep going

  • Tuna Ghost

    Hmm I was under the impression that memorials were generally intended as places for solemn reflection, not just by the gov’t.  What exactly is the “message” that dancing contradicts?

  • Jack Whiskey

    Slavery is still active in parts of Africa!

  • Jack Whiskey

    Slavery is still active in parts of Africa!

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