Arts Desk

A Protest Happened. Dancing Occurred. Now What?

So. Saturday's biggish protest at the Jefferson Memorial went down pretty smoothly. Now what?

Kudos to the Park Police for playing their cards right this time. The dozens of dancing protesters were allowed to gather, shake their booties, and mill around in solidarity for at least 15 minutes before getting shooed out in a slightly more graceful manner than last time. The demonstrators got a chance to feel like they were standing up for something important, and the Park Police got off without shirking their duty—upholding the law, that is—too heavily.

But let's face it: The event accomplished almost nothing. No law was altered or appeal filed, and no one's currently on record swearing to continue the dance-in until they effect real, legal change. Even Adam Kokesh, the protest's main instigator, was reported as saying he's moving on to "bigger and better things."

But what follows could still be interesting. Once the media circus dies down, presumably a lot of the folks who were drawn to the issue simply because of its don't-tell-me-what-to-do bent will disappear from sight. That might leave a handful of people who genuinely see this as an important freedom-of-expression issue that's been wrongly decided by the courts, and who are willing to push the envelope in the hopes of making real change.

It's obviously a tricky issue, one that falls pretty close to that fine line that divides "freedom of expression" from "nuisance." After all, if the courts' decision was so obviously "reasonable," as some commentators have implied—hello, Washington Post?—it would never have incited the range of emotions, and publicity, that it has.

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  • ACLUer

    such a nonissue. I'm a free speech zealot, but I have no issue with a tiny % of the national mall (inside the most solemn of our national monuments) being a quiet zone. I dont want KKK rallies, baptist revivals, or commercial vending going on there. These memorials SHOULD be zoned differently than, say, the Venice CA Boardwalk. Come on, does anyone really think there should be an open door to protest inside memorials? It's such a distraction from more important matters, really an insult to true civil liberties activism and free speech challenges

  • xcorrick1

    More important matters? Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, (you know "Inalienable rights: Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happinesss, yada, yada, yada) likely whould disagree with you that exercising the right to free speech in a public forum (his memorial!) qualifies as a lesser matter.