This news is being reported elsewhere at greater length, in more detail, and with more inflamed passions. Still, events that occurred during the most recent silent dance protest inside the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC– “in celebration of the first amendment’s champion and in response to US District Judge John D. Bates’ ruling” that prohibits peaceful demonstration on memorial grounds– should be documented on Coilhouse as well. Whenever an incident like this takes place, the more space we create in our communities for rational discussion and analysis, the better, right?
In addition to affording us an opportunity to think more deeply about the ramifications of a ruling like Bates’, the circumstances surrounding the May 28th Jefferson Memorial protest give us the chance to critically examine and debate the most powerful forms of civil disobedience we have to choose from.
How, in the future, can American citizens most effectively protest the passing of laws that we believe to be unjust, even insidious?
Here’s an excerpt from a particularly interesting op-ed piece, “D.C. Circuit Opinion Banning Dancing at Memorials Deserves Very Close Scrutiny” by Forbes writer Ben Kerschberg, written shortly before the May 28th protest took place, in response to the galvanizing ruling against Brooke Oberwetter:
The D.C. Circuit states that “the government is free to establish venues for the expression of its viewpoint” and that “it is not obligated to allow other monuments expressing alternative viewpoints” It further states: the “Jefferson Memorial . . . was built by the government for the precise purpose of promoting a particular viewpoint about Jefferson.”
Respectfully, could the court please explain–it did not–what viewpoint about Jefferson the Memorial embodies? And did Oberwetter in any manner act in a way “expressing alternative viewpoints” antithetical to that embodiment?
Mr. Jefferson isn’t here today to weigh in on this matter, and quite frankly, given our separation of powers, his opinion neither would–nor should–have any bearing on the courts.
But I do think he would be disappointed with the D.C. Circuit’s opinion here.