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Forum Post: The courts give corporations unlimited free speech with money, but tents are not free speech for protesters?

Posted 2 years ago on Nov. 15, 2011, 6:48 p.m. EST by thezencarpenter (131)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

The courts took a liberal view on free speech rights for fictional entities such as corporations, lobby groups, and unions giving them unlimited free speech rights (money) in the citizens united case. Putting aside the fact that the constitution never intended to give these rights to fictional entities, this decisions intends to broaden the limits of free speech (in this case money). Having said that, could the court today (11/15/2011) have taken a similar broad view pertaining to the use of tents in this protest as an image or statement of what this protest is partly about, not unlike a company or lobby group would be allowed to make their voice heard using their newly acquired, unlimited exposure buying (unlimited) bill boards, air time, etc.? Does anyone see a double standard here?

My support goes out to these determined people, I'm with you in spirit.

61 Comments

61 Comments


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[-] 2 points by HeavySigh (227) 2 years ago

The public has rights to the park without it being full of tents, garbage, etc. Your rights are not > the rights of others.

[-] 1 points by thezencarpenter (131) 2 years ago

By that logic every camp ground, concert venue, public restroom, etc. should never be used because it may get messy! your missing the point - free speech can be messy and complicated.

[-] 1 points by HeavySigh (227) 2 years ago

No, your logic is flawed. Campgrounds, at least the ones down here, all have rules about habitation. The park is obviously not a place for such activities. They would tell homeless people to get their tent city out of there just as much as they have for OWS. Like I said, its a public place which means that the public has certain rights for use and sanitation. OWS can not override these rights.

[-] 1 points by thezencarpenter (131) 2 years ago

Listen, this is a protest, the tent is a symbol that is part of that protest. and therefore can be seen as protected by right to free speech.

[-] 1 points by thezencarpenter (131) 2 years ago

With all due respect, the issue is free speech, not real estate law. My intention was to highlight the possibility that the tents etc. might be seen as a symbol or image of free speech used in this protest to make a point as guaranteed by the constitution just like a lobby group etc.would purchase airtime or a bill board (of unlimited value based on citizens united court decision). Not whether the protesters had the right to be in the park.

[-] 1 points by LSN45 (535) 2 years ago

For decades now the corporations and special interests have had our "representatives" bought and paid for (both on the right and the left). Don't get distracted by the symptoms - we need to address the root cause. Concentrating our efforts on getting the money out of our politics is the best way we can create an environment in which further reforms can be realized. Until we end the current system of legalized bribery (campaign donations) and paid lobbying our politicians will continue to be the LAP DOGS of the corporations and special interests. What we need first and foremost is real, loop-hole free CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM!!!! If the corruption is not dealt with first, the chance of any other meaningful reforms becoming a reality is almost zero - the special interests will just use their money to buy votes and put forward bills that create loop-holes or otherwise twist the law in their favor. If we want our children to live in a country where there vote matters, we need to get the money out of our politics, otherwise they will increasingly become the 21st century version of the "landless peasant." Spread the word - End the LEGALIZED BRIBERY!!! CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM needs to be THE main goal of the protests!!!

[-] 1 points by thezencarpenter (131) 2 years ago

I agree, unfortunately we will never get to vote on that issue, and the reps. will never vote against their own self interests.No win situation.

[-] 1 points by dreamingforward (394) from Tacoma, WA 2 years ago

Great point. That one should be brought into the courts.

Where are the lawyers to make court history?

[-] 1 points by thezencarpenter (131) 2 years ago

Explain? Where are the lawyers to make court history?

[-] 1 points by dreamingforward (394) from Tacoma, WA 2 years ago

Because the extent of the injustice means some lawyer could make a great case.

[-] 1 points by nucleus (3291) 2 years ago

We have the very best government and legal system that money can buy.

[-] 1 points by thezencarpenter (131) 2 years ago

We just can't afford it!

[-] 1 points by TheStop (53) 2 years ago

we can......what we can't afford is social programs to support you OWS people.

[-] 2 points by thezencarpenter (131) 2 years ago

sorry - too simplistic to respond to!

[-] 2 points by OldSchoolLiberal (8) from Cape Elizabeth, ME 2 years ago

Yeah, what a bunch of godless communists! I mean who defile the right of free speech to say something bad about those with power and wealth?! Downright un-American!

[-] 0 points by TheStop (53) 2 years ago

Ummm...if you feel that way....I really think you need to reread what i put. I never said any of that just that you all live of our money.

You yell at the wealthy whom get taxed and provide the social programs you live on.

You can be angry at their success if you have tried what they have. Many CEOs are born in poverty and build a business.

[-] 1 points by OldSchoolLiberal (8) from Cape Elizabeth, ME 2 years ago

I don't live on social programs. I work for a living. Ironically it is CEOs that come crying to me because I can solve their problems...

I yell about anyone with wealth and power who choose to abuse it and lord it over others. People who complain about paying their fair share to fund the social programs. (I don't hear any CEOs turning down money that came from welfare recipients..) People who complain about taxes but drive down public streets. People who gladly take the benefits of society yet selfishly would give nothing back, even though they have the most to give.

[-] 1 points by thezencarpenter (131) 2 years ago

Good point.

[-] 1 points by JesseHeffran (3903) 2 years ago

maybe, it does not always boil down to selfishness but respect. being middle class takes lots of work and being wealthy takes a lot of hours and a lot of brains. now, say someone who is raised at the bottom rung, and grows up being shunned by the middle and despised by the affluent. do you believe that he should throw is creativity into a project that makes him sick?

[-] 0 points by thezencarpenter (131) 2 years ago

once again,too simplistic to respond to, you have been brainwashed by the propaganda of the 1% and the 1% wannabes.

[-] 1 points by beautifulworld (20502) 2 years ago

It is only free speech when they say, where they say, and how they say. Really hard to explain to my children.

[-] 1 points by thezencarpenter (131) 2 years ago

? explain

[-] 2 points by beautifulworld (20502) 2 years ago

For instance, the police tell the occupiers where to stand, how loud they can be, that they can't bring a blanket, they can't have a library, etc. etc.

[-] 1 points by HeavySigh (227) 2 years ago

There are limits to protesting. Just because I have an opinion and I'm in a crowd doesn't mean I can violate the rights of others by camping in a park that's not designated for camping, blocking the street, disturbing the peace, etc. Let's not get carried away here.

[-] 1 points by thezencarpenter (131) 2 years ago

Are you willing to prevent the corporations and lobbyists from "getting carried away" as well with the unlimited lobbying ability granted by the citizen united court decision?

[-] 1 points by thezencarpenter (131) 2 years ago

I see, yes does not seem very free! There seems to be a bigger issue here than I first thought. It seems the Citizen united court ruling was attempting to broaden the definition of free speech rights, not solely based on what the constitution provides to individuals (the constitution says nothing about granting these rights to corporations). The court today apparently was not willing to take a similar broad view to the rights of these "actual" individuals exercising their rights in the park.

[-] 1 points by beautifulworld (20502) 2 years ago

Right. Money is "speech" and has no limits at all according to these bozos. If true, then one could argue that a tent should be free speech as well. A tent is worth money, right? The judges are bought, too. Most are appointed by our "purchased" politicians.

[-] 1 points by thezencarpenter (131) 2 years ago

Not exactly my point,but, Using it by someone that has lost everything they have worked hard for from the actions of these greedy Wall street bankers and their supporters to make a statement in public certainly could be viewed as the same as wealthy corporation or lobby group buying air time, etc..

[-] 1 points by kcsapper (12) from Pleasant Hill, MO 2 years ago

The Judgement read -

"City law prohibits the erect ion of structures,the use of gas or other combustible materials, and the accumulation of garbage and human waste in public places, enforcement of the law and the owner's rules appears reasonable to permit the owner to maintain its space in a hygienic, safe, and lawful condition, and to prevent i t f rom being liable by the City or others for violations of law, or in tor t I t also permits public access by those who live and work in the area who are the intended beneficiaries of this zoning bonus...."
"...The movants have not demonstrated that they have a First Amendment right to remain in Zuccotti Park, along with their tents, structures, generators, and other installations to the exclusion of the owner's reasonable rights and duties to maintain Zuccotti Park, or to the rights to public access of others who might wish to use the space safely. Neither have the applicants shown a right to a temporary restraining order that would restrict the City's enforcement of law so as to promote public health and safety."

Recommend that OWS approaches Brookfield Properties Inc. with a request for special permission/ permit to allow a warming/rest area upon condition that OWS assists in the maintenance and sanitation concerns that Brookfield must pay for under their contract with the city. This should be done under the glare of media, and allow Brookfield to either show support for the OWS and the 99% movement or place them firmly in the 1% that is the issue.

[-] 1 points by JesseHeffran (3903) 2 years ago

money is an expression of oneself, you can use it anyway you choose. but other people can't use their money to silence you but they can drown you out. Citizens united gives both sides the freedom to talk it out with money.

[-] 1 points by thezencarpenter (131) 2 years ago

What if you have no money? do you lose the right to express yourself? second point: the constitution clearly only gives this right to individuals not fictional entities (corporations). Corporations are fictional entities formed by it"s membership to limit liability and personal accountability to those members.

[-] 1 points by JesseHeffran (3903) 2 years ago

when that happens you become forced to form factions, unions, corporations, chambers of commerce, and yes billionaire's clubs. a corporation is just a bull horn that drowns out your voice, a union does the same. no?

[-] 1 points by thezencarpenter (131) 2 years ago

yes, that is true, The key word in your statement is "forced". The constitution does not say that you get the right to free speech AFTER you choose the lobby group that best suits your interests. You always had the right, presumably at birth, to free speech. Do we want money to create this imbalance and inequity to this precious right?

[-] 1 points by JesseHeffran (3903) 2 years ago

if we did not have a dysfunctional government we would not have to be forced to use factional voice, i.e. unions, corporations, chambers of commerce, and billionaire's clubs. the money out of politics could simmer down the rhetoric used by the factions.

[-] 1 points by thezencarpenter (131) 2 years ago

Of course, and as a result restore the rights of free speech to individuals as guaranteed.

[-] 1 points by JesseHeffran (3903) 2 years ago

so next time someone tells you, you are a autonomous individual, kick him in the nuts. LOL

[-] 1 points by thezencarpenter (131) 2 years ago

What do I do if it's a woman?

[-] 1 points by JesseHeffran (3903) 2 years ago

you think I'm touching that one?

[-] 1 points by thezencarpenter (131) 2 years ago

Smart man!

[-] 1 points by bre0001 (50) from Brooklyn, NY 2 years ago

Right on. The nerve of these people who own the property to tell us what to do. What selfish people. They should give the property to OWS. Let's protest against them. We start tomorrow at 8 AM. We'll call it Occupy Zuccotti Park.

[-] 1 points by rickMoss (435) 2 years ago

That's what happens when your government owns you. We have to step up the occupation and get organized. We need a smart revolution. The old ways won’t work on today’s challenges.

Read “Common Sense 3.1” at ( www.revolution2.osixs.org )

FIGHT THE CAUSE - NOT THE SYMPTOM

[-] 1 points by AFarewellToKings (1486) 2 years ago

"This is not a question of politics, of right or wrong. This is a question of intelligence. We must be smart. We enjoy popular support, for now. But to preserve America's good will, we must keep our demands narrow: end the corrupting influence of money in politics. That is something a majority of Americans can get behind. That is something a social movement can achieve. And then, and only then, can the other issues be successfully pursued." -theghostofthomassjefferson

[-] 1 points by L3employee (63) 2 years ago

Yes, I'm having trouble with the logic on that one myself.

[-] 1 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 2 years ago

How many people are occupying DC?

[-] 0 points by OldSchoolLiberal (8) from Cape Elizabeth, ME 2 years ago

Have you ever tried bribing a politician with a tent? I mean you might get some influence with a city council member for a really nice yurt but it better have the stove and a lot of fur blankets for extra comfort.

[-] 1 points by thezencarpenter (131) 2 years ago

funny

[Removed]

[-] 0 points by seaglass (671) from Brigantine, NJ 2 years ago

$$$ talks in Amerika.

[-] -2 points by Rico (3027) 2 years ago

Oh come on. The Supreme Court ruling was based on a real philosophical question surrounding the law. OWS was occupying public land, depriving there fellow citizens access to said land, and creating an environment in which women were assaulted, drunks/homeless congregated, violence occurs, and disease was spreading.

We allow Unions, for example, to contribute to political campaigns, so why not the Corporations they tend to campaign AGAINST ? A Union is a bunch of people with a common shared interest. A Corporation is a bunch of shareholders with a common shared interest. I personally don't like EITHER contributing to political campaigns, and I bet the justices feel the same way, but as long as Congress allows donations by one, the justices had no choice but to enforce the current law fairly across unions and corporations.

Before you declare me a "troll," know that I SUPPORT this movement. People DO however need to be sensible and informed if we are to be successful. Posts like yours are emotionally gratifying but specious and useless.

[-] 2 points by thezencarpenter (131) 2 years ago

I disagree, free speech as guaranteed by the constitution to individuals is a fragile right.My point is simply that the courts in the citizen united case were willing to to take a liberal view to "free" speech rights as spelled out in the constitution, and today I did not see a similar latitude. as to your last statement: I DO consider myself to be "sensible and well informed". and finally, I think you really are missing the point of free speech, It SHOULD be emotionally gratifying!

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 2 years ago

So if I decide to invade your home and take up residence there, it's "free speech" ?

[-] 1 points by me2 (534) 2 years ago

I tend to agree with most of your stuff Rico but I think this analogy is pushing he envelope quite a bit. This is POPS which is very different than a living room.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 2 years ago

We occupied PRIVATE PROPERTY, created a lawless micro-society with poor sanitation, excessive violence, assaults on women, and spreading disease.

That's not "free speech."

This isn't the end, it is only a very predicable end to the beginning.

What's the mid-game strategy ?

[-] 1 points by thezencarpenter (131) 2 years ago

Maybe you are a troll, LOL, being in the park is not exactly my point,but, Using a tent in it by someone that has lost everything they have worked hard for from the actions of these greedy Wall street bankers and their supporters to make a statement in public certainly could be viewed as the same as wealthy corporation or lobby group buying air time, etc..

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 2 years ago

No, I am not a Troll, I am ever vigilant, however, for OWS members posting crap that is so unfounded it makes us all look bad. See my post at http://occupywallst.org/forum/one-percenter-ready-to-join-if/

Your argument that a large number of OWS people are homeless is specious. Heck, we even refused to FEED the homeless when they showed up. You know that. Everyone else knows that as well.

We occupied PRIVATE PROPERTY, created a lawless micro-society with poor sanitation, excessive violence, assaults on women, and spreading disease. Do you really think that's "free speech" ?

Get real. This isn't the end, it was only a very predicable end to the beginning.

[-] 1 points by thezencarpenter (131) 2 years ago

Your reading words I have never printed, and seem to have a desire to not use reason to see this basic premise in drawing your conclusion that it is unfounded. In the interest of free speech i will agree to disagree and wish you good luck.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 2 years ago

I DID wrestle a bit with your statement "Using a tent in it by someone that has lost everything they have worked hard for from the actions of these greedy Wall street bankers and their supporters to make a statement in public..." I assumed you were suggesting the occupiers are homeless, sorry.

I ALSO struggle to understand your statement "..seem to have a desire to not use reason to see this basic premise in drawing your conclusion that it is unfounded." This time I won't even try lest I get it wrong again !

Good luck !

[-] 0 points by steven2002 (363) 2 years ago

Answer the question, if I decide to invade you home and take up residence there is that free speech. Answer yes or no.

[-] 1 points by thezencarpenter (131) 2 years ago

I have no interest in inflammatory conversations, A home and a public area are not the same, therefore can't be used to draw a conclusion. My point is the use of a tent etc. (maybe inadvertently) as an image of free speech in a public place similar to a bill board etc.

[-] 0 points by steven2002 (363) 2 years ago

The park is private property, Is that the same as a home? In case you did not know, the park is maintained by a private company that allows the public to use it. It is not a public place.

[-] 1 points by thezencarpenter (131) 2 years ago

Isn't something called a park - a park?

[-] 0 points by steven2002 (363) 2 years ago

It's like the lobby of a building. When the city gave a building permit they mandated open space, that does not mean it is city property, it means that the company will allow public access as long as predetermined rules are followed. You can enter a building, but you can not block access.