This Week in Civil Disobedience

Dave Killion — June 6, 2011

When the Victoria Libertarian Book Club meets, we often spend some time on current events, and I’m looking forward to discussing a couple of incidents.

The first

“A 21-year-old page lost her job Friday after walking onto the Senate floor during the speech from the throne to protest against Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Brigette DePape, a recent University of Ottawa graduate, carried a sign reading “Stop Harper” and walked out in front of Gov. Gen. David Johnston as he read the afternoon speech.”

The second

“One week ago, May 28, 2011, RT correspondent and former U.S. Corporal Adam Kokesh and four other participants began a flash mob-silent dance at the Jefferson Memorial to commemorate the arrest of Brooke Oberwetter for quietly dancing in the memorial on Jefferson’s birthday in 2008. The park police responded by punching, body slamming, and arresting Kokesh and the others.

Today, June 4, Kokesh and Code Pink has initiated another flash dance this time pulling almost 100 more people through press coverage, Facebook, and word of mouth. The memorial was soon shut down before the event ended with the police slowly forcing everyone to leave. No arrests were made.”

Let me say that I am entirely in disagreement with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and think that U.S. citizens have a right to demonstrate at the Jefferson Memorial whether they have a permit or not. Furthermore, if people allow their government to dictate when and where protests are permitted, they can expect their attempts at protest to be legislated right into futility. But is all public space fair game?

In the case of DePape, I think her firing was legitimate because her conduct was well outside that which one would reasonably expect of someone in her position. But what if she were just some random citizen who managed to sneak in and protest? Should someone like that be subject to prosecution? What are the arguments against citizens being permitted to protest in all public places? I’m looking forward to the discussion.

Comments

Ms. Killion says

anything good come up? We (Kyle and I) both though DePape was pretty stupid for what she did, giving up a fairly significant position for a young, politically minded person just to throw a little public tantrum. I’m not sure what I’d say about a random getting in. I think that if there wasn’t real consequence then their efforts wouldn’t be as impressive. The Jefferson Memorial though… didn’t seem like they were interrupting much of anything there. So I guess that’s the difference for me. If it was memorial day and there was stuff going on then I could see people having a right to be upset but when nothing else is going on… Jefferson probably enjoyed the change of pace.

— June 28, 2011

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