Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Illegal Camping Is Not Free Speech

More and more cities are getting fed up with the illegal camping associated with the Occupy Wall Street protests, Santa Rosa being one. I'm getting a little fed up with the cry by many- some who should know better- that the illegal encampments should be protected as free speech.

It may seem strange to hear from a libertarian, but free speech has its limits. You certainly should be free to criticize government, which is why we have a first amendment in the first place, but you can't do it anywhere you please. Cities and counties have the same right as people to set limits on how their property is used.

When a city or county removes illegal campers from a property, that doesn't interfere with those campers rights to free speech at all. Those same campers can still march down the street, start a blog or make a Facebook entry making their point and not be subject to arrest.

When you cross the line of legality, that's known as civil disobedience. In the past, direct action through civil disobedience has been credited with various reforms, but most who engaged in it often acknowledged they were engaged in it and the acts themselves were often directly related to the issue they were protesting- blocking munitions shipments in protest of the Viet Nam war, for instance.

I don't see how setting up an illegal camp on city or county property furthers the OWS cause. In fact, now it seems the issue has switched to the illegal camps themselves as opposed to whatever this was about in the first place. How illegal camping, or confrontation with the police, is going to get the supposed rich 1% to give up their money is beyond me.

In any case, this is not about free speech and never was.


At 8:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree 100%.

At 11:44 AM, Blogger Rose said...

Me, too.

At 7:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a doctrine called public nuisance - camping on public property
interfering with other's right to use the property may well be held to be committing a public nuisance and courts can ban it regardless of what
the people are saying. Al


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