Saturday, December 24, 2005

Free Speech in Augusta, Maine

Free speech will remain free in Augusta, at least for now. It's possible again to stage a political protest or march in the state's capital without obtaining insurance and paying the police department exorbitant fees.

“To march is to speak,” said Judge John Woodcock in a 51-page opinion. He went on to say, “A march can be a powerful and effective community expression of ethos: to celebrate our heroes—as on Veteran’s Day; to applaud our commonly-held values—as on July 4th; or, consistent wit this Country’s longest-held traditions, to protest our policies and attempt to effect change—as in Selma or Washington, D.C.”

Seems to me that pretty much sums it up.

One aspect of the case that was particularly troubling was that the city seemingly excluded certain groups from jumping through the hoops. That's political favoritism, even if the groups are the "Board of Education, Little League or other organizations." When you allow government or quasi-government bodies to have their marches for free, but charge significant amounts of money to dissenters, that's bald-faced tyranny.

This ruling is a great Christmas present for libertarians of all political persuasions in Maine. Even for folks who didn't know they were libertarians, but are, even if it's just concerning this one topic.



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