L. Gordon Crovitz writes “Are Tent Cities Free Speech?” for The Wall Street Journal. His question is a good one, and some genuine exploration of the topic would be compelling reading. Unfortunately, we won’t find that here. Mr. Crovitz’s conclusion was decided long ago, and borne not of faith in the law, the democratic process, or the constitution, but of personal inconvenience:
Local residents and businessmen had grown weary of the health and safety violations, drum circles late into the night, and trashing of shops and restaurants. A group called Downtown Community Coalition was formed by unlikely community organizers, including local parents, health professionals, small-business owners and this columnist. [emphasis added]
While his concerns about public health and safety are legitimate, the pretext that they are the real reasons for the eviction of Occupy Wall Street is absurd. The movement was evicted because of plans to disrupt the opening of the New York Stock Exchange on November 17.
Protesters are free to demonstrate peacefully in Zuccotti Park, provided they follow its regulations. If they have to rely on unlawful campouts and disrupting neighborhoods instead of using speech, their message must not be very persuasive.
His notion that this movement, which has inspired protests in dozens of cities across the country and world, could lack persuasive power simply defies logic.