Posts Tagged ‘First Amendment’

Abingdon Tea Party Snafu?

April 4, 2009 1 comment

While I am hesitant to throw in completely with the Tea Party movement, as I fear that free market ideology may get muddled down in a great deal of populist rage, I am generally sympathetic to their goals. I am most certainly happy to see regular working people rising up against the often Byzantine and esoteric world of budgetary and tax policy. 

That’s why I’m concerned to see various local governments throwing up barriers to parties. First there was the case of Cape Coral, Florida, where it was initially reported that the city had shut down the party. Actually, the organizer could not afford liability insurance. While it can certainly be debated why and if local governments should require permits for rallies, fair is fair in this case and FreedomWorks stepped in to save the rally.

More troublesome is the actions of officials in the City of Burleson, Texas. In this case an unelected “street supervisor” attempted to have state officials intervene, as he did not feel the protest was “in the public interest.” Fortunately FreedomWorks intervened once again, and the rally is back on. 

Closer to home, organizers in Abingdon, a town of about 8,000 people, are experiencing their own logistical issues. Located in Washington County, which was the first place to be named after General Washington in the United States, and founded in 1776, one would think that the town would be more than supportive of individuals gathering to support individual rights and limited government. Indeed, the group planned to gather on the same ground that the brave Overmountain Men, Scots-Irish from the region, gathered nearly 229 years ago for the long slog to Kings Mountain, South Carolina, a battle which many historians consider to be a turning point in the Revolutionary War. However, it appears that the town has thrown some roadblocks in their way. From Tertium Quids:

Here’s a note from the event’s organizer, Ted Dingler, on the group’s Facebook page:

The town of Abingdon has denied us the use of the muster site as well as all town owned property. We are currently working on a substitute site as well as several other options. Rest assured, there will be a tea party somewhere in the Abingdon, VA area.

Now, the comments on the TQ post make it unclear what exactly the town’s position is exactly….some of the commentators indicate that the mustering grounds are rather fragile to begin with, and even moreso after recent weather events. Additionally, they claim that the number of public areas are limited. However, the town has a population of nearly 8,000 people….surely there is some public area that could be utilized? As it stands, the organizers indicate that ALL areas have been made off limits to the group. 

While different approaches abound (some supporters believe they should protest anyways in defiance of permit law), what is needed now is answers. All we have at the current time is information from the former mayor via a third party. This is not sufficient. If you are interested in answers, TQ has the contact information. 

We’ll keep you updated on the Tea Party protests as they occur and if any run into legal roadblocks. Hopefully I’ll be able to attend one, but as Norm points out, it is on the same day as that holiest of all political days in Virginia, the Shad Planking. Norm has clearly made his choice:

So you have a choice that day…

Either pay $25 to huddle in the woods with a plate of inedible fish and a gaggle of hacks, or stand up against rapacious government in the town nearest you (for free) with thousands of average folks just like you.

Not much of a choice, really. At least not for those who’ve been paying attention.

Return of the Fairness Doctrine

January 30, 2009 Leave a comment

FCC Member Robert McDowell warns that the Obama administration is getting serious about bringing back the fairness doctrine, which requires equal time for opinions on the airwaves and is almost guaranteed to greatly roll back, if not silence, talk radio:

McDowell warned that if the doctrine were revived, it might not “wear the same label. That’s just Marketing 101: if your brand is controversial, make a new brand,” he told his audience.
He suggested the doctrine could be woven into the fabric of policy initiatives with names like localism, diversity or network neutrality. “According to some, the premise of any of these initiatives is similar to the philosophical underpinnings of the Doctrine: the government must keep electronic conduits of information viewpoint neutral,” he said.
McDowell suggested that a stealth version of the doctrine may already be teed up at the FCC in the form of community advisory boards to help determine local programming. McDowell says he is fine with those boards if they are voluntary–some stations already seek such input. But that if they are required, as the FCC has proposed, “Would not such a policy be akin to re-imposition of the Doctrine, albeit under a different name and sales pitch?”

Perhaps even more frightening is what McDowell is hearing about how the Fairness Doctrine may be extended to other forms of media:

McDowell also said that efforts to reimpose the doctrine could stretch to cable, satellite, and even the Internet. “Certain legal commentators have suggested that a new corollary of the Doctrine should be fashioned for the Internet, on the theory that web surfers should be exposed to topics and views that they have not chosen for themselves,” adding: “I am not making this up.”

H/T Instapundit

Shameful Antics on Inauguration Day

January 21, 2009 2 comments

As I mentioned in my post yesterday on Obama’s inauguration, even though I am firmly on the other side of the aisle, I cannot deny the historic significance of the day and the solemnity of the occasion. That’s why it pained me to hear of the behavior of some of the attendees when President Bush took the dais for the final time. From Hank Bostwick at the Star City Harbringer:


Likewise, when the entire crowd in the Silver Ticket section in front of the Reflecting Pool and within earshot of the Capitol platform erupted into boos and heckling of former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, I knew I would be cringing the moment President George W. Bush stepped out of the halls of Congress into the frigid morning air.

“Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah, hey, hey, hey . . . goodbye,” the crowd began to sing after a series of boos that nearly shattered the frozen glaze on the Reflecting Pool behind us.

One African American lady from Ohio to my left in the crowd said, “That ain’t right . . . I don’t like the man, either, but that ain’t right.  His children are up there.”

Another onlooker, a woman in overalls from California,  who joined in the chant told the lady to my left that President Bush “deserved to know how we feel one last time.”


Equally shameful, though, are the (unfortunately) typical antics of the Westboro Baptist Church. These are the very same people who shamefully interrupt the funerals of our fallen soldiers, and they were up to the very same yesterday: 


Shameful behavior from both sides. It is, however, their right to act in such a boorish and disrespectful manner. Such is the delicate balance between freedom and decency. To ban one form of speech because it is judged disrespectful by the community at large is to say that any other form of speech can be judged the same way when tastes and values change. Thus, they are free to conduct their protests without interference, and I am equally free to be disgusted.

And I wouldn’t want it any other way. 

When citizens fear their government, something is amiss

January 19, 2009 1 comment

Two stories that should be disconcerting to any citizen activist. One local government story that has gotten attention across Virginia is the ongoing saga in Gloucester County. There’s plenty out there about this controversy if you want to read more about it. The long and short of it, though, (summarized here in an article about recent citizen outrage), is that a majority of the county board and the sheriff were indicted for conspiring to fire the county administrator. 

Not only were the charges thrown out, and not only was the county ordered to pay part of the $125,000 in legal fees amassed by the Supervisors, but a group of citizens who circulated a petition to remove the gang of four were ordered to pay $85,000 in legal fees.


Read more…