Monday, November 05, 2007

Right to Gather in Peace vs Free Speach

Letter to KVI Radio: John Carlson & Ken Schram
John, Ken, You where pounding each other on KVI radio the other day regarding what to do about protesters at funerals. I was on hold with the unifying voice of reason to answer the quandary of how to avoid Ken's free speech slippery slope while respecting the mourners rights. Unfortunately you-all ran out of time yelling at each other. This program's communication mode of fast talking slam and filibuster is getting boring but let me now point out why the supreme court will likely side against the protesters.

Neither of you observed that in the same 1st amendment as "free Speech" it also states an even more compelling right that doesn't get much air time "the right of the people to peaceably assemble." Without that you could not even gather in a gym. Neither the Boy Scouts nor the NAACP would would be safe from the intrusion of government edicts and interventions. That, I dare say, is even more important than the right to use the public square. In this case it creates a competing interest - both of which are protected constitutional rights. There is a right to gather peacefully - (both to not disturb the peace nor to have the peace of your gathering disturbed) and it is from that right that the so called "right to privacy" is derived.

Simple, fair laws are already in place in all cities that can be applied or extended to address this competing interest. It is because of that right that a public conveyance like city streets or a city owned convention center can be rented or otherwise allocated by permit for exclusive use on a temporary basis. In this case, the area of "rental" or allocation is the cemetery and some length of road used by the procession could be included that would allow unimpeded and exclusive access for their private affair. Think of the area like a convention center that you can have exclusive, even guarded access too. Laws prohibiting the "Disturbance of Peace" or trespass could be applied in any of the permit covered areas.

This does an end run around the mourners sensibilities vs.. the amendment argument by casting the issues on equal competing constitutional grounds and resolves the conflict by simple policy formulation. By using the permit for a temporary gathering, it sidesteps the whole abortion clinic argument altogether. Very tidy.

Now Schram - Don't be such a coward. It is precious hard to get a word in edgewise and in my case you hung up on me once when I tried to speak about "Free Killing Zones" See if you have the courage to keep me on the air for more than a minute sometime.