Wednesday, June 1, 2011

so, you know you can't dance...

I've refrained thus far from commenting on the Jefferson Memorial dancing bullsh*t story because, well, I think it's a bullsh*t story. Really, I'm not sure what the big f*cking deal is except it reveals that there are a few douches who misinterpreted the meaning of a simple and reasonable regulation on the First Amendment via their fundamental misunderstanding of the very purpose of the First Amendment.

Now, for those of you lucky enough not to know what the hell I'm referring to, here's the shortish version: Last weekend, a handful of jagoffs seemingly suspended in arrested (pun intended!) intellectual development thought they'd demonstrate on the Jefferson Memorial against a recently upheld court decision that bans demonstrations on the Jefferson Memorial. More specifically, they did this by dancing (badly, I might add), which is what also caused the original issue.

But f*ck it, we're not talking about Footloose here, Adam Kokesh, this latest demonstration's Head Douche In Charge, certainly isn't Kevin Bacon and standing up for dance rights wasn't even this crew's point, as I it's been made clear. No, instead it was to make sure "the Man" would step up off our First Amendment rights and let the people demonstrate, whether it be dancing or protesting, wherever the hell they please. Well, that's just stupid, but I'll get to that in a couple paragraphs.

Returning to the summary, here's the rest: Eventually the park police approached the dancers and warned them repeatedly to stop or face arrest. So what did HDIC and crew do? (And yes, that'll be pronounced h-dick, thankyouverymuch.) They starting talking sh*t to the cops. Never a good plan. And so the police arrested them. But of course the dancing demonstrators couldn't let that happen either without putting up a fair share of childish drama. Instead of following Civil Disobedience 101, these idiots resisted, meaning the police then had to subdue the demonstrators to get the cuffs on. You can see the whole thing here spliced together to make it look worse than it was for the aptly juvenilely named "Adam vs. The Man" program that airs on -- wait for it -- Russia Today television.

OK, important sidebar: I was living in Moscow when Russia Today became an actual thing opposed to a rumored hilarity. I, along with several English-speaking friends, were tapped to work for it, some as writers, others as anchors and a few as show hosts for programs similar to HDIC's. All of us declined because we considered working for RT, despite a well-to-do promised salary, an embarrassment, especially if you considered yourself a journalist, as it's pretty widely known that the Kremlin runs RT and, therefore, would control all programming on it. Needless to say, it's slanted heavily against the West. Basically, it's the Russian Fox News. Undisclosed but clearly evident bias -- it haz it.

And so, already, considering the RT co-signature of the organizers of this event, HDIC and his friends' motives should be viewed with at least one Prince-inspired skeptical side-eye:

Actually, maybe two:

But questionable motives aside, let's break down the reality behind the First Amendment and why knowing more about what this amendment actually means makes HDIC's quest to legalize demonstrations on the Memorial even more idiotic. Let's start with a legal definition:
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees Freedom of Speech. This guarantee generally safeguards the right of individuals to express themselves without governmental restraint. Nevertheless, the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment is not absolute. It has never been interpreted to guarantee all forms of speech without any restraint whatsoever. Instead, the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that state and federal governments may place reasonable restrictions on the time, place, and manner of individual expression. Time, place, and manner (TPM) restrictions accommodate public convenience and promote order by regulating traffic flow, preserving property interests, conserving the environment, and protecting the administration of justice.
The emphasis is mine as I think the emboldened sections clearly spell out why depending on the time, place and manner it's sometimes appropriate to outlaw the right to demonstrate -- either via spoken language or body language.

See, there are two types of public space in question here: public forums and non-public forums. On the former, which makes up the majority of public space in America, including most any street corner or sidewalk, you can do whatever the f*ck you want, from dancing to being a member of the terribly misguided Westboro Baptist Church. On the latter, however, which includes the Jefferson Memorial, neither is welcome. And thank God because think about the consequences if they were...

Sure, perhaps a few intellectually limited people dancing on the Jefferson Memorial isn't a big deal, but look at that in the larger scope of this law. The First Amendment doesn't discriminate, so if we allow the Running Man as a form of demonstration in nonpublic forums, what's then to stop gay-bashers from rallying at these places? Or the KKK? What's to stop someone from simply getting on a soapbox and repeatedly screaming the word "FUCK" to protest censorship law or whatever? Not only would this make visiting the Jefferson Memorial -- and all other nonpublic forums -- exceedingly unpleasant, but it would reassign the entire purpose of why the Jefferson Memorial exists in the first place. It's not a demonstration space or a stage for morons to reenact their high school proms to make a illogical point -- it's a memorial, a place to reflect in peace and tranquility.

And thankfully, the courts are filled with enough people to want to preserve that environment for those of us who possess the ability to act like grownups. The irony here is that it's people like HDIC and his friends who make it necessary to make stipulations like the "time, place and manner" one attached to the First Amendment in the first place. Either all demonstrations are OK or none of them are. I'd rather not be allowed to dance if it also means I don't have to dodge ugly women and brainwashed children holding up "Thank God For Dead Soldiers" signs, while I'm trying to imbibe the life and legacy of Thomas Jefferson at his memorial

And no, banning demonstrations (again, even if it's just a few people dancing) in designated nonpublic forums does not signify that the United States is turning into a "police state," an idea that some have incredulously floated in the discussion attached to this post on the We Love DC blog, which was also critical of the demonstrators. (God, it makes you wonder whether some people even understand what the term "police-state" means...) Nor does it mean this is the beginning of the court and government stamping out the First Amendment altogether. It's quite the opposite, actually: By continuing to ban demonstrations in nonpublic forums, the courts are upholding the First Amendment as it was originally intended, not how some short-sighted disillusionist on the Russian government's payroll thinks it should be. You're still free to dance in the street, HDIC and buddies! No one's trying to take that away. Hell, make yourself useful and dance so wildly it disturbs the Westboro crew!

And although I'm ready to be done with this post (I'm on something like my 18th Prince skeptical side-eye and it's starting to strain), I need to touch on all the unfair hype about the park police's reaction to the demonstrators as shown via Russia Today. Look, I'm no fan of authority, but even through HDIC's RT lens, I don't see how the park police acted inappropriately. They gave fair warning and when the kids didn't listen the police followed through on their promises -- they started arresting the demonstrators, who of course, resorted to acting like children through whining (and that's what repeatedly asking "WHYYYY? in a bratty voice is) and flailing around.

Now, if HDIC & Co. were smarter and more learned about what their demonstration would result in, 1) they'd have realized that this would end in arrest, and 2) they would know better than to resist. All resisting arrest ever does is get you thrown on the ground because they have to get the cuffs on you somehow, which is what happened here, not police brutality. You put your own lips 2 da floor.

I mean, how dumb are these demonstrators? Had they done any research at all before their little outing you'd think they'd have at least gleaned a cursory knowledge of civil disobedience guidelines, which clearly state DON'T RESIST ARREST. In fact, it might be the biggest (hence, the caps lock), most powerful tool one has when it comes to presenting your civil disobedient cause to outsiders. I mean, look at the empathy Rosa Parks created when she didn't resist arrest when she knowingly broke the law to sit in the front of the bus. Had she started backtalking to the cops or had a friend try to pull her away, I doubt she'd be as legendary as she is today. Silent, non-violence is a powerful thing.

Of course, Ms. Parks was also fighting a law that desperately needed changing since it was based in racism opposed to reason, so if she had smacked a cop upside the head, I wouldn't have blame her. And so I kinda take back mentioning Rosa Parks' name at all in this post since there's no comparing the civil disobedience associated with civil rights that she stood for in the 1960s and the stupid disobedience associated with the dancing demonstration on the Jefferson Memorial that HDIC stood for last weekend. Hell, I wouldn't even compare HDIC to Mayor Gray when he got arrested for defending DC self governance. Not only did Gray not resist arrest, but he was disobeying the law for a damn good cause.

Which brings me back to my original point. This whole dancing on the Jefferson Memorial story is dumb. And if you're planning to go to the dancing demonstration on the Jefferson Memorial scheduled for Saturday to demonstrate against HDIC's arrest for demonstrating against the original dancing arrest (this is just getting into rabbit hole territory now), go get a real cause.


Victor9000 said...

This post is the equivalent of getting up in these idiots' faces and yelling "You got SERVED, son!"

Secret Admirer said...

You're sexy when your political.

Secret Admirer said...

That should read: You're sexy when you're political.

See? Your distracting. (Damn! I did it again!)