Friday, December 2, 2011

Speaking of Occupy

 Unless you have been living under a rock or living in the back woods somewhere, you have undoubtedly heard of, and have seen all the news concerning the Occupy Wall Street movements. I can't begin to tell the details of what the Occupiers actually want, and I don't think very many people actually can. They seem to be loosely aligned by, and to, the growing and sometimes extreme disdain that Americans have for certain aspects of the financial industry these days. In some regards, they are fully justified. After all, was not the housing bubble, crash and subsequent economic decline due, in large part, to certain elements of this industry? The federal government included.

 To put it plainly, people are pissed off...and rightly so.

 Large coporations have folded, banks have become insolvent, banks have been bailed out, working class people have lost their jobs, houses, cars and for some, their sanity may have been lost somewhere along these lines as well. We watched as the crisis unfolded and we also watched as news came out about what the underlying cause had been. Another simple word-greed.

 Then we watched as the federal government, despite an overwhelming outcry of opposition borrowed money against the future of our children, and handed it out like a welfare check to some of these same corporations and banks that created this mess. The premise was, "Yes, even though these banks were greedy and careless. Even though we helped create this moral hazard, we have to bail them out. The future of America depends on it. The future of the world economy depends on it. So, sorry Mr. Taxpayer, you just don't understand what is happening here."

 No wonder people are pissed.

 Personally, I think the TARP was a bad idea and I can find nothing in the Constitution that authorizes it, but that's another Central Bank story.

 So yes, I can see whay people are pissed, I'm pissed too. I have already noticed the inflationary changes that stem from TARP, and not just from TARP. I lost money too, but I didn't get a check from the Fed. In fact, it was just the opposite, I got a bill for $9720.10!

 Part of what the movement is about, I think, is the fact that almost no one in our government seems to listen to their constituency anymore.  Banks were bailed out and the American people were left high and dry. We had Bush, with that smug, shit-eating-grin on his face telling us that we, the people, were not smart enough to understand what was happening and that we should leave the thinking to the smart people.

 Then we had Obama and his irritating Winnie The Pooh Gopher whistle telling us that yes, we just have to do it again. Are you serious? If the first bail-out didn't work, what makes you think the second one will?

 I digress.

 I didn't start this OP to go off on a rant about Bush, Obama or the Fed. I started it because I wanted to talk about the Ocuppy vs. the First Amendment. Including all the police interference, excessive force, brutality and utter trampling of the protected right to speak our minds. I will start with the text of the Amendment:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

 Now let's pick apart this amendment and talk about what applies to these protests.
 "...or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

 Abridging the freedom of speech; Encarta's third definition is, "to deprive someone of their rights."
 Abridge the freedom of the press; Again Encartra's definition applies and I will explain this a bit later.
 Abridge the right of the people to peacefully assemble and address their issues to the government; Encartra again applies.

 The freedom of speech is, just that. The freedom to speak your mind, to have an opinion and to share that opinion with anyone and everyone that will listen. Now, I do agree that there are some limitations as to the time and place.

 For example: Let's say you can't stand Barbara Striesand, but you just happen to recieve an invitation to one of her charity fundraisers being held at a fancy hotel or convention center. You can, at any time, start to speak your mind and otherwise disrupt the party, but the hostess and/or her security team, friends, family or Mickey Mouse has the right to remove you from the building and throw you out into the street. I think that is a good example of a situation where removing you from the site or otherwise preventing you from speaking your piece would not be a violation of your protected right. Simply because, it is a private function, paid for with private money and located on private property. This almost applies in New York.

 Now, if you just so happen to be on public property, your right is protected by the first amendment and you can speak freely. Regardless of whether your material is offensive to anyone else. However, if you are on public property and causing damage to that property or otherwise preventing anyone that wants to use the property from using the property, the protection of your right ends there. Public land is, for the public, the people, of not just the city or town, but of every person in America and you do not have the right to destroy or cause harm to any persons property.

 Sadly enough, this reason has been abused as justification for the removal of the occupy camps and the otherwise abridgement of the protesters rights. Mayors and police chiefs decided that some of these camps were posing or creating a nuisance or public saftey hazard and ordered them to be disbanded, often times with the use of, or under the threat of force and/or imprisonment.

Next is the freedom of the press and before you say something like, "there were no reporters in the camps" let me argue this. In the age of the smart phone, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and the Blogosphere; You cannot convince me that there was not at least one person in these crowds that had, or maintains a blog and was, at that time, continuing to update the site as to the situation. Oh, I'm sure there were plenty.

 You might argue that blogging or social networking is not the press. Why is it not? Do we all have to have shiny hair, perfectly white teeth, a college degree in journalism and four pounds of make-up on our faces in order to be recognized as a legitimate news reporter? If you said yes, then you are not only missing the point of journalism, but a few other things as well. A journalist records data and events in a journal, of which he or she will then later report on or about. So a guy that has a blog and reports the news on it is then, for all intents and purposes, a journalist and a news reporter. Broken down even further, every human being is a news reporter...after all, why do you think we like to gossip so much?
People Reporting Everyday Social Situations.

 Last and certainly not least, is the right for the people to peacefully assemble and address their government concerning grievances. Broken down or simplified, it means you can, at any time and public place, assemble and discuss your issues.

 The interesting thing about the last part of this sentence is, there is no mention of a permit, acceptable hours, levels of noise, amount of people or any authority for any form of government to interfere as long as your assembly is peaceful. It is pretty cut and dried on this. Say what you want and as long as you are not causing harm to anothers person or property, you must be left alone.

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Let's keep it fairly clean and civil. Calling someone a liberal-moron or a right-wing-nut does little to get your point across.