Date/Time: 13/07/2004 12:00 am
THE FIRST AMENDMENT
STAYS THE SAME
That’s the point. The single sentence with the five freedoms does not change. The Bushes and Bloombergs can’t modernize it for some new vision of paranoia they call “public safety,” “terrorism,” or “The Republican National Convention.”
Actually, we still have the right to worship as we choose, to speak, to broadcast opinion, to assemble peaceably, and to petition the government to change. The freedoms are unambiguous and they remain the same.
They are the institutional guarantee against the careless power of private property. Uniformed representatives tell us that the PATH Station at the World Trade Center is private property. We cannot peaceably assemble there. Speech and the press are not freedoms that apply there. We are told that we cannot hand out information there. Of course, in the Church of Stop Shopping we find this a familiar lie. Across the country, public space has been privitized. Barnes and Nobles kills the library – so when you silently gather to read, you no longer have the American freedoms. The main street is killed by Wal-Mart, and out at the mall the police are private ones, employed by a mysterious government that prefers not to identify itself.
The Amendment does not change as the corporate elite changes the words that describe the ground on which we stand. Americans, many of them very young, died to defend these rights. We know that the people who do the privitizing are right-wing in their political persuasion. No transnational corporation publically opposed the war. Oh is the war a private matter too?
What can we do? We can keep repeating those words.
Bill of Rights
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Come to the WTC Path Station, at the northeast corner of Ground Zero, at 6:30pm Tuesday. Speak these words over and over in your cellphone in the open area between the subway stations and the train. The Ritual Resistance continues till 7 PM.
Our host this week is
Ben Shepard of Reclaim The Streets.