Saturday, May 30, 2009

Limiting Religious Speech in Public Park

The First Amendment is short but it covers a lot of territory. It prevents the government from creating a national religion that people are forced to follow; it protect freedom of religion; it protects freedom of speech; it allows citizens to assemble; and it allows redress of grievances from the government.

Given that free speech and freedom of religion are protected, it is hard to understand how the following could happen. A women from Jews for Jesus wanted to distribute literature and talk to people in a city park in Oyster Bay, New York. She was told she needed a permit from the city to do this. In other words, she needed a permit to hand out free literature and to talk to people. She was not selling anything. She was not setting up a structure or having a parade that might disrupt reasonable public use of the park. She was doing anything that was hazardous, such as burning leaves. Etc.

She refused to get a permit and was arrested twice. It's a very good bet our Founders did not assure us of freedom of speech only to have a city limit us from speaking out in the public square.

Read more about the circumstances here:

Fighting for free-speech rights in NY

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