The First Amendment to the United States Constitution reads:
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.
Three distinct portions of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution appear to have been violated yesterday, when journalist Amy Goodman and two of her Democracy Now! news producers were arrested for covering demonstrations at the Republican National Convention. Goodman was clearly just talking to police officers:
That’s freedom of the press violated right there. Freedom of assembly has been twisted as protesters are shuffled into segregated Free Speech Zones to protest the Republican National Convention away from the subject of their petition. When freedom of the press and freedom of assembly to voice grievance are curtailed, speech is no longer free but contingent on subject matter. If you have happy talk, you’re free to go. If you’ve got a grievance, move along or else.
I have no sympathy for the assholes who use the cover of otherwise peaceful protests to engage in pointless violence against other people. No matter where they say they fit on a left-right spectrum, such thugs would be the worst of fascists if put in any position of power. But that’s not what was going on in this instance. Peaceable assembly and free speech have a constitutional mandate, and the detention of journalists who cover such assembly and speech should never be tolerated.
I await a prompt and thorough investigation of these constitutional violations by the police of the Twin Cities, by the Secret Service that is overseeing operations during the RNC, and by the FBI.
I’m not going to hold my breath.