Democracy is fine when it's 9,000 kilometers away, not 2 blocks away: two editorials in the Washington Post
A sign posted January 8, 2012 in the Occupy DC encampment in McPherson Square in Washington, DC. Today marks the 100th day of occupation in DC. AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images).
The Washington Post is okay with civil society and the role of protest in Egypt, based on this editorial, "Harassment in Egypt," but not in the U.S. and specifically DC, and not at McPherson Square, which is 2 blocks away from the Washington Post offices, and is probably not so pretty to look at up close, based on this editorial, " It may be time for Occupy D.C. to leave McPherson Square."
From the second editorial:
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE officials have bent over backwards to accommodate the First Amendment rights of the Occupy D.C. protesters at McPherson Square. Those rights, though, must be carefully balanced against other public interests. That’s why federal officials are right to take seriously the warning from D.C. officials about the health and safety risks posed by the increasingly unseemly encampment. The time may well have come to reclaim this public space.
From the first editorial:
ON DEC. 29, Egyptian security forces and troops launched an unprecedented raid on 17 offices of American and U.S.-funded civil-society groups ... Egyptian officials seeded local media with stories that portrayed the nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) as part of an international conspiracy to interfere in the country’s politics.
U.S. officials say that they are still pressing the issue hard. But in public, the administration’s rhetoric has been softening.
If the problem with the protest encampment in McPherson Square is rats, deal with the rats and other public health issues. Don't use public health concerns as an excuse to suppress democratic expression.
Don't shut the encampment down out of some mealy-mounted concern about public health, unless you also argue that the same kind of false messages being spread by pro-government groups in Egypt are equally accurate.
You can't have it both ways.
Because of Washington’s fortress mentality, numerous streets around the Capitol have been closed, the landscape has been littered with unsightly barriers and visitor flow has been restricted. Now it seems that national protests and other events will be moved farther from one of the great symbols of America’s open society. That’s wrong, and unnecessary.
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
Labels: civic engagement, civil rights, freedom of assembly/First Amendment, media, nuisance properties, participatory democracy and empowered participation, protest and advocacy, public space management