In a zone of their own.
August 24, 2002 1:48 PM   Subscribe

In a zone of their own. Despite restrictions and police enforcement, protesters tried to make their voices heard. When did these "Free Speech Zones" start. Maybe they have always been around but I don't recall hearing that you had to be cordoned off to express peaceful dissent.
posted by bas67 (18 comments total)
He says he chose to let the protesters believe they were blockading the motorcade in hopes to keep the peace and avoid arrests.

"No sense in fighting with them," said Patton. "Let's just take him (Bush) out the back way."

i don't know why, but i found this to be an accurate analogy of how the government deals with the people in general.
posted by quin at 2:27 PM on August 24, 2002

I cannot imagine anything more intolerably smelly than a gaggle of fenced-in Oregon lefties with the sun beating down. I bet even the most unkempt little hippie was wishing that her comrades had a little less aversion to bathing ...
posted by MattD at 2:44 PM on August 24, 2002

The bad part about these protest zones is that they are generally located behind the Porta-Potties just out of earshot.
posted by bradth27 at 2:45 PM on August 24, 2002

Not creative or interesting enough to come up with an original insult, MattD reaches for an embarrassingly old cliche to speak for him.

Next, we'll hear MattD's take on older drivers. They're slow!
posted by raaka at 3:27 PM on August 24, 2002

If protesting our governments actions is an unacceptable form of demonstration, how can we show our disapproval for the actions of our elected officials? Do we have to wait until reelection, and is it possible to fix the problems that have been created by electing someone new?

I wish I was a wealthy corporation so I could vote in this country. Hopefully the Worldcom stock I acquired from a co-worker will hit it big. It set me back at least 3 donuts, and one of them was a jelly.
posted by fatbobsmith at 3:57 PM on August 24, 2002

Yet another example of the Constitution being shat upon by the Bush cabal.

And yet we stand by, doing nothing, accepting everything.

I'm wondering when or really if the people of this country are going to wake up and get off their collective fat asses and do something about this? I'm guessing never.

How sad. How scary. Horrible, just horrible on all accounts.
posted by damnitkage at 4:17 PM on August 24, 2002

We had "free speech zones" in Atlanta during the Democratic convention back in '84. Sad it is, but nothing new, and not unique to the Republican party.
posted by jonnyp at 4:23 PM on August 24, 2002

I was actually trying to apply a true, if hoary, fact (that lefties who range in the Eugene to Berkeley habitat, particularly those of the young and unshaven, regardless of gender persuasion) to a new situation (penned up protesting), in a funny way.

The superposition of the familiar and the novel being, of course, the heart of a joke. (Which is the very best comedians can often have you start laughing before the punchline -- because you know the familiar half of the setup well enough to see where the thing is headed.)

If I failed to insult amusingly, I apologize. (The apology being for failing to amuse my MeFi colleagues; I mean the insult to the stinky protestors most unreservedly.)
posted by MattD at 4:48 PM on August 24, 2002

If I failed to insult amusingly, I apologize.

Accepted. Now, get back in the bathroom, as I'm sure you've got more blood to scrub off your hands.
posted by riviera at 4:50 PM on August 24, 2002

You should have been in Topeka, KS today for the Nazi rally. There were four different zones fenced off. The Nazi's were up on the capital steps, their 25 supporters were in a pen on the west side of the building, hundreds of people were on the east side of the building waving anti-nazi signs and yelling, and a few hundred people were across the street having a counter-protest. In order to enter the three public areas you had to go through metal detectors and could not take in cell phones or cameras. There was a lot of free speech going on in Topeka today and I don't see any other way that they could have done it. ?
posted by sp dinsmoor at 4:53 PM on August 24, 2002

"that lefties who range in the Eugene to Berkeley habitat, particularly those of the young and unshaven, regardless of gender persuasion"

You'll be happy to find your hoary stereotype, like most stereotypes, is mostly wrong.

Am I to assume you reguarly drive your SUV solo, have a disgusting paunch filled with mad cow infected beef, and reguarly beat your 2.3 kids? No I am not. I don't know you, and you obviously don't know either Eugene or Berkeley. It'd be sadder if you live there and still believe this cultural bile.

"I mean the insult to the stinky protestors most unreservedly."

You were there then and can tell us what happened. Otherwise you are just spouting hate.

I don't even like Berkeley.
posted by raaka at 6:03 PM on August 24, 2002

I think they started doing the "protest zone" thing as a result of what the Chicago 7/8 caused at the '68 Demo convention. I also don't see how this squares with the first amendment. The ACLU apparently argues that it doesn't.

While President Bush was cheered Thursday by an invited crowd, ...

This seems to be new, however. The economic forum in Texas was also limited to people who supported W's policies.
posted by swell at 6:15 PM on August 24, 2002

Designated protest zones curtailed the almost daily fights at the abortion clinic near my university. MattD, I promise that liberals aren't the only ones who protest.
posted by whatnot at 6:48 PM on August 24, 2002

a lot of universities have designated protest areas, they seem older, so maybe that's where the idea came from?
posted by rhyax at 7:12 PM on August 24, 2002

Lived in Berkeley for 5 years, spent much time with and in fact was friends with many radical protestor types, especially of the hippie variety which tends to extend up north through Arcata, Ashland, Eugene, Corvalis, etc. (the hard-core marxist type, who don't range north much, weren't my style). And, yes, lovingly, I can say that they did tend to be a bit pungent!

Although I feel a bit trolled to be defending a joke unto two folllowup posts, I do think that there is a honorable and ancient tolerance for mocking aspects of people's manner and appearance as a means to attack their politics (it's called charicature, c.f. every editorial cartoon published in the past 150 years...) And, since Oregon hippie leftists don't tend to have distinctively big guts, or distinctively broken-veined noses, or distinctively odd noses, one has to get to their well known distinctive quality ... odor!
posted by MattD at 8:05 PM on August 24, 2002

... but seriously, everyone knows that the Secret Service doesn't allow protesters anywhere near the President, regardless of party, and it's not like Bush is going to say, "hey, sign me up for Greenpeace, and, maybe I should let that Saddam off the hook this time," because of a few puppets or what not. If there really is an anti-Bush or anti-War movement in this country, they can have their big rallies on the Mall in Washington if they want, and then the police will be penning up the protestors against them.
posted by MattD at 8:10 PM on August 24, 2002

Yeah, you just don't allow the big cheese near a big, yelling group of people whose thinking is almost exactly opposite his.

That said, it gets out of hand. When Bush was here in Portland, the "protest zone" was situated right in front of the Hilton, his hotel. Protesters stayed within it, only to be dispersed with rubber bullets and mace when W wanted into his room.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 9:22 PM on August 24, 2002

Much of the legal basis for Free Speech Zones came out of a 1968 Supreme Court case appealing a conviction for a draft-card burning. This established a three-part test for governmental limits on free speech that is still used today, not without criticism. For various reasons they sprouted like crazy in the 90s, probably as a result of rulings protecting property owners' rights (e.g. shopping malls) regarding activities in a quasi-public space. Even if state-funded, universities and colleges are private property. The modern incarnation apparently dates to Tufts University in 1989. At the moment, the USSC supports "time, place, and manner" restrictions on free speech, as long as they are "reasonable". It's not precise, but it makes free speech zones very attractive as a legally defensible means of keeping protests from getting out of hand -- at least from the point of view of the zone creators.

I believe the development was also facilitated by interest in the ontological anarchy movement's temporary autonomous zones. For most colleges, it boils down to "we don't care what you do as long as you don't occupy the president's office or disrupt classes".
posted by dhartung at 11:29 PM on August 24, 2002

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