Your freedom ends where my
[September 30, 2002]
By Nicholas Provenzo
Last weekend's anti-capitalist demonstrations in
Washington were every bit what most observers assumed they would be: general
sessions in idiocy, lunacy and mayhem. As expected, portions of the city
were negatively impacted by the demonstrations and despite almost every
precaution taken by the police, significant vandalism took place against
anything that was a symbol of American wealth and prosperity.
The campus of the George Washington University borders
the IMF's headquarters and since I was once a student at GW, I was
intrigued to see how the campus responded to the demonstrations. As one
would expect, the editors of the campus paper decried the arrests of the
protestors, arguing that their freedom of speech was taken from them. I
wrote the following letter in response:
In its Monday,
September 30th editorial "MPD
arrests limit freedom," the GW Hatchet erred when it claimed that
the rights of last weekend’s anti-capitalist demonstrators were
violated. The protection of the First Amendment does not extend to those
who violate the rights of others.
anti-capitalist demonstrators wanted to avoid mass arrests, they could
have filed the proper permits with the police for the use of public land
and conducted their affairs so as not to threaten the public safety.
Instead, the anti-capitalist demonstrators attempted to seize the
streets of Washington in order to commit acts of violence and disorder.
Their actions included halting traffic, throwing smoke bombs and the
vandalism of local businesses and private property. Such conduct is not
an expression of freedom; it is its antithesis.
Yet despite the
reckless and wanton conduct of the anti-capitalist demonstrators, the
editors of the Hatchet blame the police for the arrests. And in a
Hatchet editor Kate Stepan blames the police when Hatchet reporters were
detained longer than their counterparts in the professional media
because they failed to have the proper press permits to cross police
lines. Her excuse: her staff’s press permits have been applied for, but
not yet received. By her standard, any student journalist should be
afforded the same treatment as the professional media, even in
situations that threatens the public safety, just by the mere fact that
they announce they are a student journalist.
The Hatchet should
learn how to conduct its own affairs professionally and it should have
condemned the fact that for all their lawlessness, the anti-capitalist
demonstrators arrested by the police suffered no more than a day’s
inconvenience and a trivial fine—approximately the same sanction as is
levied for illegal parking.
groups each year hold peaceful demonstrations in Washington to
communicate their positions and I myself have organized several
successful rallies without incident. The anti-capitalist demonstrations
are a different thing all together. That the anti-capitalist
demonstrators suffer from thoughtlessness and a want of reflection is
well known. That they have contempt for the rights and safety of others
is also well known. That the Hatchet’s editors have joined with them in
their illogic is tragic.
The Center for the Advancement of Capitalism
It is disconcerting
that one can effectively shut down a city and suffer the same penalty as
one who parks their car illegally, then have people apologize for you.
Since the avowed goal of the anti-capitalist protestors is the end of
private property, I think it is in order that they be relived of a little
more of theirs when they violate the rights of others. As for the people
who apologize for them, especially those on campus, let me say again there
needs to be an alternative and soon.
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