Hightower Report: Limiting Rights at the National Conventions
New regulations are intended to suppress protest
One of the juiciest ironies of Tampa, Fla.'s newly minted law to suppress protest at the upcoming Republican National Convention is that it bans the carrying of water pistols by protesters. However, thanks to Florida's nutty right-wing governor, anyone with a concealed-weapon permit is free to tote an actual bullet-firing pistol! Apparently, the authorities really do consider blood to be thicker than water.
Even nuttier is the fantasy of convention organizers that they can lock down the feisty and essential American spirit of political protest with a rash of ridiculous, liberty-repressing laws. Among their ordinances is a directive that thousands of demonstrators squeeze their public expressions into short "parade routes" and out-of-the-way "viewing areas." This is as futile as King George III demanding that American revolutionaries march into battle by lining up in neat rows to be shot down by his Redcoats.
A spokesman for one protest group says flatly that its members will pick their own spots to assemble and have their say: "We [Americans] were born with the right to move freely from place to place and speak our minds," he rightly points out. Also, a poor people's coalition is setting up a "Romneyville" on private property in Tampa, providing what it calls "a kind of refuge" against the government's attempt to box in its protest of policies that are increasing poverty all across America.
The opposite of courage is not cowardice – it's conformity. What makes America great are courageous folks like these who refuse to go along with authoritarians and elites who always demand that we surrender our most basic liberties to protect them from speech they don't want to hear. To keep up with this never-ending battle of rights vs. wrong, go to the National Lawyers Guild's website at www.nlg.org.
For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, "The Hightower Lowdown" – visit www.jimhightower.com. You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.