Occupy Wall Street and Free Speech

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hundreds sleep in Zuccotti Park, the center of the Occupy Wall Street protests, on October 10, 2011. (Ben Johnson/WNYC)

Does the right to protest include the right to set up camp in downtown Manhattan? When it comes to Occupy Wall Street and protesters in Zuccotti Park, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg doesn't think so. "The Constitution doesn’t protect tents," he said at a news conference earlier this week in Queens. "It protects speech and assembly." Mayor Bloomberg also suggested that those exercising a "right to be silent" might be having their rights trampled by the constant noise coming from the demonstrations in their tent city. 

Jeffrey Rosen, professor at George Washington University Law School, says the Constitution is on the side of the protesters.

Comments [8]

Andy from New Jersey

It's incomprehensible that America, an english speaking nation that many foreigners come here to study the language, does not itself know the meaning of the word "illegal". It is synonymous of Unlawful, unauthorized, tresspass. Why do we waist our time both on the radio and on the political arena to discuss how to deal with group of individuals who begins their journey by way of tresspassing?. Who in America will sit intruder around the dining table all because he broke in for food and not call 911? Untill we begin to understand the meaning of "illegal", see it as what it is and fight it with all might and mens, we are doom to fail.

Oct. 19 2011 09:29 PM

I love the phrase that John Hockenberry uses for select guests like Jeffrey Rosen; "friend of the program." Maybe it is "Friend of the Program." There's probably a Soros Foundation grant that goes along with the title.

Anyway, we know what it means. It means a left-of center academic or commentator, who can be reliably counted on to instruct public radio audiences in left of center views on topics du jour.

It is really fascinating how this question of "free speech" generates such intense interest, when the protestors haven't been prevented from doing much of anything apart from blocking the Boorklyn Bridge. They have every right to speech and to present thier message. If they only had a message.

But compare if you will, my public radio friends, how thin the First Amendment discussion gets when we talk about the really, truly important speech rights preserved by the Supreme Court case in Citizens United. That's a case that stood for a very important free speech right. But it's a decision that, for political reasons, Professor Rosen and the staff of The Takeaway seem to hate!

The Takeaway is highly selective, when it comes to defending "free speech."

Oct. 19 2011 11:55 AM

Are the OWS protests a chance for journalists to do some soul searching?
If important information like the support of extremist groups, theft, assault and regular hate speech is deliberately omitted from stories about the protests, is that an insult to the intelligence of the audience? Will calculated misinformation lead the public to support a movement of which they know little thanks to an agenda driven media? Is that the intent?

Oct. 19 2011 11:27 AM

If it was Iran stopping these protests, conservatives will be going carzy shouting how Iran is against democratic process. Protesters have a right to freedom of speech- and Bloomberg is a millionarie - of course he is against! We should consider next time when bending rules for someone like him.

Oct. 19 2011 10:59 AM
John from Miami, FL

Regarding today's topic of immigration: Perhaps, it is the result of increased enforcement and the greater implementation of DHS programs like Secure Communities that is contributing to an increase in the number of arrests and subsequent deportation of individuals with an immigration violation. It follows logic that with an increase in enforcement we will see an increase in deportations. My feelings are that with increased enforcement of our existing laws coupled with more onerous penalties for the employers of undocumented workers and an elimination of incentives such as free social services and education, we will see a gradual and continual decrease in the number of individuals living and working in the US illegally. This is a perfect example of how we can, over time, gradually reduce the 20 million +/- that have entered and remained in the US in violation of our laws.

Oct. 19 2011 09:32 AM
Linda Heller

John just asked about the intersection of commerce and free speech- what about strikers who try to prevent customers from entering stores and restaurants?

Oct. 19 2011 09:31 AM
acq from Manhatan

You should report - each time you discuss Bloomberg and Zuccotti Park - that his girlfriend - Diana Taylor - is a member of the Brookfield Properties Board of Directors.

Oct. 19 2011 09:29 AM

Did the the "considerable coverage" of the "Occupy" protests around the nation include serious allegations that went well beyond "loud and unruly behavior" and camping in tents? Did it include endorsement of the protests by communist and fascist groups, using the street as a latrine and other health code violations, rampant accusations of lawbreaking like assault, theft and other crimes which have led to hundreds of arrests over just a few weeks and steady examples of disturbing hate speech? Will protesters and supportive politicians be ask to denounce and distance themselves from such appalling behavior?

Oct. 19 2011 09:19 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.