Are Free Speech Zones Really Free?

Raul654 (CC)

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]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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5 Comments on "Are Free Speech Zones Really Free?"

  1. Anarchy Pony | Sep 9, 2012 at 10:02 pm |

    Is that a serious question?

  2. Uhh this is America.  Everywhere is a free speech zone…fuckers

  3. Yesterday, the DNC had to pretend it had a 2/3 vote to advance that
    Jerusalem is the basic of Israel and for the admittance of the phrase,
    “God-given gifts” into their civic platform, because three attempts to
    vote couldn’t accompany it.

  4. Drewhempel | Sep 10, 2012 at 11:42 am |

    Wow brings back the memory of the 1996 Chicago DNC “free speech zone.”  The cops had it covered with a “do not cross” line and our march demonstration had some stalwart stalinist types or maybe provocateurs who demanded everyone bum-rush the cops.  Meanwhile the pacifists intent on civil disobedience “crossed” the line yet the cops chose not to arrest them.  I found this hilariously ironic — ah yes the law is whatever we want to be at the moment.

    I left the demonstration as it had degenerated into absurdity but only two blocks away stood an army literally of Chicago’s “finest” in military battalion formation — lines of maybe 20 or 30 cops — several rows of them, standing silently waiting for orders to attack.  Right then I knew the U.S. was just an empire and democracy was a farce and how can I vote “Democratic” after this?

    Well I experienced firsthand the fascist policies that Ralph Nader describes about the Democratic Party and yet how self-righteous are these Democrats thinking they are fighting fascist Nazis without even acknowledging we live in a U.S. empire with the Democrat elites dependent on CIA drug money?  I told Vice President Al Gore – “Everyone knows the CIA is complicit in the drug trade.”  He got an uneasy expression on his face and his dozen secret service got real edgy.  Then after campaign finance reform I had to sign a non-disclosure form at my environmental nonprofit since we were promoting the Democratic Party — so now we could not discuss “personal politics” while on payroll.  So much for free speech from the Democrats – the fascist crackdown even extends to their political organizing.

    • Surrealias | Sep 10, 2012 at 2:16 pm |

      Hey Drew! This is Quaisar, I used to post on your blog and I’ve wondered what
      you’ve been up to since the naturalresonancerevolution disappeared. I predict
      you are doing plenty of lotus position meditation, am I right or am I right?

      I’ve seen some of these free speech zones in the past year and of course
      these zones are placed ineffectually in relation to where the protestors
      need to be.

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