Monday, November 14, 2011

The Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble

What would our country be like if the First Amendment read:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, except by large groups, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, except in cases of public sanitation, unauthorized camping or use of public parks, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances so long as these petitions come from lobbyists and not street gatherings.

Today we find ourselves at a crossroads of history; will governments around the country be allowed to diminish the Occupy Movement with the enforcement of health codes and park maintenance issues? Will the assault on the First Amendment set precedence for other changes in interpretation? Maybe, next we will witness changes in the first sentence of the amendment. It could read something like this:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, except where the religion is practiced on public lands.”

Images from across this country seem strangely familiar, harkening back to a time when Americans last took to the streets nationally. Sadly, these images also reflect the same response from authorities.

So which image is 1970 and which is 2011?

So why should the modern Pagan community take a stand in support of the protesters rights? Is it because we are unanimous in support of their cause? Not likely in our wildly diverse community. Yet we have an interest in standing in support of the Bill of Rights. If governments and corporations are allowed to subvert the rights of the people when they disagree with the message, we as Pagans can look forward to similar treatment in the future.

Whether you agree with the protesters or not, whether you are Republican, Democrat, Green or Libertarian what is unfolding on our streets is an assault on our rights and we need to take a stand. Write articles, call Congress, join the movement or call your mayor. Protest the evolution of restrictions on our right to protest.

1 comment:

Pagan In Paradise said...

This crisis has transcended its original purpose, if local nuisance laws are allowed to derail a national protest movement, free speech will, by default, be suspended in this country.

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