The recent DNC and GOP conventions had so-called free speech zones, but there wasn’t much freedom on offer. Ann O’Neill reports for CNN:
Shane Brown squeezed through a gap between sections of a steel security fence 9 feet high, picked his way across a vacant lot infested with fire ants and climbed atop a rickety wooden platform. He stepped up and spoke into the microphone:
“God is a good, good God.”
His words were amplified over a hardscrabble patch of earth wedged against a highway the locals call the inner loop. White plastic trash bins stood sentry against litter, but there was no one there to fill them.
Brown, the first speaker to take the platform Wednesday at the official “free speech zone” of the Democratic National Convention, had an audience of just three — two city workers and a reporter. It was shortly before 3 p.m., and the place had been deserted since it opened five hours earlier.
If a man — be he a protester, a prophet or a pothead — talks to a dozen trash cans in a vacant lot half a mile from a bustling political convention, does he make a sound?
Without pausing to ponder the question, Brown simply turned and faced the massive traffic jam behind him on Stonewall Street, ironically in front of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. It may have been a captive audience, but at least it was an audience.
“God is a good, good God,” he began again.
And then, the generator powering the sound system shut down. A city worker fiddled with the contraption, shrugging, “I work for the Transportation Department, so of course now I’m the sound man.” Brown, meanwhile, carried on with a bullhorn, talking for nearly 40 minutes until the second speaker, also a street preacher, showed up late.
Steve Widdows’ topic was “sodomy, abortion, fornication.” He taped up signs condemning “Wicked Democrats” and “Abhor-tion.” His God apparently was not a happy God…
[continues at CNN]