There’s that word again: Fear. The curious thing, though, is that the overwhelmingly Democratic, left-wing, entitlement espousing, Let Freedom Ring, all men are brothers, politically correct and, at times, sickeningly syrupy egalitarianistic (yeah, I know, you won’t find that one in Merriam-Webster) blatherings of Denver’s City Council (you’re in there, too, Hick) have now taken on the ignoble task of attempting to restrict First Amendment (um, invoking the Constitution of the United States, here!) protections/rights of The People because, well, the Democratic National Convention is coming to Denver in August. And, by golly, by gee, all y’all wild-eyed cretins (The People) ain’t gonna muck-up the tidy picture, the Norman Rockwell visage that Hick, the Denver City Council and the Democratic National Convention want to display to the world come those dog days of summer.
Okay. I’ve already provided an entry about hiding the homeless during the Dems confab. (Apparently, Hick has yet to accomplish the lofty goals of “Denver’s Road Home,” or whatever the hell he calls it.) But, now, we have the specter of Denver’s politicians wringing their hands in anticipation that The People may want to be heard and seen during the Democratic folderol that will take place at Stan Kroenke’s palace, the Pepsi Center, in August.
Maybe it’s instructive to note that ol’ Kroenke is married to Anne Walton (do the name “Wal-Mart” come to mind?), and the happy couple will probably provide freebies to the DNC…say, oh, maybe the red, white and blue balloons and shiny confetti (all of it, of course–as is the Wal-Mart way–coming from China) that will descend on all those happy revelers once a candidate is anointed. Instructive also is the question: Is the staff at the Pepsi Center still a non-union shop?
Be that as it may, the Hick and the Denver City Council are in the process of restructuring those sections of the Denver Revised Municipal Code that deal with parade and park permits because, well–as I already noted–fear prevails amongst the politicos that The People just might attempt to exert their First Amendment rights when the ol’ donkey comes to town.
I had a WTF moment the other day when I read in one of the dailies that North High School (less than a mile from our home), was within the “Security Perimeter” for the DNC whoop-de-do and there was a proposal on the table to start North’s school year on September 2nd (the DNC will be here August 25-29), rather than the normal start date of August 18th. Head scratcher, that one.
Firstly, you’ve got to be fucking kidding me that the “Security Perimeter” extends all the way to North High. What’s to fear? Al Queda firing off a ground-to-air missile from the top of the school? The North Speer corridor– that, yes, skirts North High from the Highlands and eventually drops down to the Platte Valley where the Pepsi Center squats–becoming a staging area for IED attacks?
I know, I know. Those who have bought the Fear card perpetuated by the ignoble machinations of Dubya and crew, surely believe such things are possible…no, not possible, inevitable because, well, FDR just simply got it wrong with the “Nothing to fear but fear itself,” thing. Indeed, a curious observation from School Board member Arturo Jimenez who represents the district up this way, including North High; yes, Arturo argued that the late start of the school year was not advisable because, “Our students will be safer in the schools rather than out on the streets,” during the convention. Hmmm… The streets will not be safe during the convention?
Let’s get to the point.
The city’s mamas and papas are proposing to: (from Taylor Pendergrass of the ACLU)
…to grant the government blanket priority over private citizens’ free speech. Under the proposed ordinance, when there are competing applications for Denver’s sidewalks, streets or parks, the government would automatically be granted the permit. The ACLU criticized the proposal as permitting a “de facto government monopoly” on Denver’s historic public spaces, especially during major events like the DNC during which Denver and other federal, state or local government entities could lock up all of Denver’s most central and visible parade routes and parks by simply holding or co-sponsoring favored events.
“Under the provision as drafted, an event that is ‘presented’ by any government or its ‘agents’ gets priority to use Denver’s public parks, streets and sidewalks,” explained ACLU of Colorado Staff Attorney Taylor Pendergrass. “A system that universally grants so-called government events preferential treatment over the free speech of private citizens is both unwise and unconstitutional.”
“Under this proposed law, if a government entity like the North Dakota Milk Marketing Board and a private group of Denver WWII Veterans both file applications to parade down Colfax on Veteran’s Day, the Milk Marketing Board would automatically get the permit and the Veterans would be told to march somewhere else,” said Pendergrass. “At the DNC, Denver or any other federal, state or local government can simply co-sponsor any event it favors, monopolizing Denver’s public parks and streets for government-approved activities. We don’t believe that is what the constitution allows, nor frankly is it what we expected from city officials who have repeatedly pledged to respect free speech rights.”
The ACLU also says proposals that would require permits for the free speech of “one or more persons” are unconstitutional. The ACLU letter claims the permit requirement “is broad enough to include one person walking through or sitting in a park with a sign that states ‘Repent Now! The End is Near’ or ‘Impeach the Mayor.’ Indeed, it is so broad as to include a person walking through or sitting in a park wearing a T-shirt containing such a message.”
The letter also encourages the city to waive provisions levying fees on free speech parades, and urges the city to drop or revise provisions that would require permit applications to be submitted a month and a half in advance. The ACLU also demanded the laws be amended in a number of places to include detailed guidance for city officials who will be deciding whether to grant permit applications, in order to prevent them from denying permits based on the content of the speech. The ACLU says the laws as drafted contain few concrete standards and therefore give city officials “unbridled discretion” when considering permit applications. The Supreme Court has long held that vague and subjective permitting standards violate the First Amendment.
The complete, cogent argument from the ACLU is here. (It’s thirty pages and is a .pdf document.) Then, Denver Direct provides some video from citizens who appeared before the Denver City Council and spoke against the proposed modifications to Code.
I guess the conclusion is that certainly proper security must be provided for the Democratic National Convention. But, at what cost? Yes, there is a monetary cost–the United States Congress is chipping in $50million tax dollars to stage the event. But, the other cost, of course, is an obvious diminution of The People’s rights under the First Amendment. The most egregious component of the proposed Code modifications places the government (Hick and his minions) as the preeminent benefactor of First Amendments rights, as is set-forth in the ACLU material. Specifically, to repeat from the ACLU material: “Denver or any other federal, state or local government can simply co-sponsor any event it favors, monopolizing Denver’s public parks and streets for government-approved activities.” And, thus, a shameful co-opting of the basic tenets of democracy.
Seems the Hick and the Denver City Council have taken a couple pages from the Dubya/Rove playbook: The People be damned.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.