The right to peaceably assemble

Ang uls at
Mon May 27 23:18:58 MDT 1996

Reply to Boddhisatva's ruminations on the right of assembly with my own:

Boddhisatva :  Places like Peru and Turkey often surprise me by both
disallowing and allowing large demonstrations.  Are they trying to create
riots and crises?

Angie:  When you have ideology on your side and have brainwashed the people
you don't need to resort to brute force to keep people in their places.  When
that system is sufficiently sophistocated, like in the U.S., the people can be
controlled more benignly.

Boddhisatva:  The U.S. took a very quiet, but odious turn when a federal court
ruled that an anti-abortion group (not people I support) was guilty of
racketeering by organizing protests aimed at shutting down women's health
clinics.  Under our racketeering laws ALL the assets of the group were
seized.  After my initial glee at seeing these fascistic snake-handlers dealt
a blow, i realized that the same laws could easily be applied to unions
(indeed they were created in response to Mafia practices, among them using
"union" protests as extortion and intimidation) and other proletarian groups.

If I'm not mistaken, the Federal Court construed an element of the RICO laws
as requiring proof re:  a conspiracy to deprive someone of some legitimate
right, like the right to an abortion which is still consitutionally protected
and thus couldn't so easily be  used against proletarian groups.  I've also
never bought the ACLU freedom of speech line, that all speech has to be
protected even the clearly odious, like racist speech.  I would change this
view of course if there was any real freedom of speech in this Country - and
by that I mean meaningful speech, which no one can really have if  99% (or
whatever) of it is being controlled/owned and delivered by multinational
corporations.  Probably equally controversially, I think that freedom of
speech should include the right of a group or a County not to receive portions
that they don't want, so for example Countries could successfully block the
U.S. - Radio Free Europe, or the U.S. Information Agency's other propaganda,
in our attempt to shove our values (or lack thereof) on others.   And this
also relates
to the point above - if with information we can bombard people with how
wonderful capitalism is, how communism is dead, etc., the harsher forms of
crowd/population control aren't required.

	This right is continually impinged on by capitalist states for
obvious reasons.  i wonder if our comrades from many nations, and the
historians and various experts among us might talk about how the right to
assembly is dealt with by the bourgeois state, sanitized, and then shut down
by increments.  Europeans seem to have a far greater freedom to assemble, but
their institutions seem to be able to cope with this fairly well.

Angie:  I think because people really believe there is a right to free speech
(and not wonder whether it's meaningful or not) it legitimizes our system. The
same way that our so called constitutional rights legitimize the system.  I
once travelled to England and was shocked that there were no similar
constitutional protections and then I noticed how many more street protests
and marching was going on and wondered if there was a connection - that when
you don't think you have any or much of any rights, you're more willing to
fight for some whereas in the U.S. most people think we have the basic rights
and so we're not as willing to get out of our chairs.

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