10-20: First Amendment Rights

[I write about politics because of the direct link I see between the words and actions of politicians and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. America’s political class manipulates our military as though they were pawns in a global game of chess. To them, PTSD is merely an unfortunate cost of war.]

First, the Good News

Recently, I blogged about the bogus rioting charges levied in North Dakota against journalist/activist Amy Goodman. But then there is this from John Nicols. His use of “they,” referencing nameless, faceless Government officials is ominous and chilling.

Then …

North Dakota’s War on the First Amendment Threatens Everyone’s Right to Know

They issued an arrest warrant for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, after her decision to join protests by Native American tribes and their allies drew attention to the struggle against the Dakota Access pipeline.

They issued an arrest warrant for Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! after she reported on physical attacks on protesters. When Goodman announced she would turn herself in, as part of an essential defense of the rights of journalists to report on news stories, McLean County States Attorney Ladd Erickson came up with a new claim that the journalist had participated in a “riot” – a charge so absurd that a local judge rejected it on Monday.

They arrested Madison, Wisconsin, City Council member Rebecca Kemble an elected official who was observing a prayer ceremony organized by opponents of the pipeline. And, in what has become a pattern, they seized the camera she was using to document efforts by indigenous people to prevent the desecration of sacred grounds….

A Warning

The remarkable events that have transpired in North Dakota in recent weeks are jarring, not just for the details of prosecutorial lawlessness but because they offer an indication of what can happen when the state aligns with corporations in order to shut down the democratic discourse….

“Violating the First Amendment is not good for North Dakota. It is not good for this country.” – Amy Goodman

The presidential nominees are silent on this issue, because it has not been posed to them. One wonders what they would have to say.

The abuses by North Dakota prosecutors of their legal authority threaten the ability of people across the United States to learn about the vital environmental and human rights issues raised by a genuinely controversial pipeline project. Americans have a right to know …

What is happening in North Dakota is so fundamentally and so thoroughly un-American.

The First Amendment

… was not added to the U.S. Constitution merely to protect journalists. It was added with an eye toward protecting everyone who seeks to engage with and expand the public discourse …

  • by assembling
  • by petitioning for the redress of grievances and
  • by documenting those assemblies and those protests

…[B]ut our concern about what’s happening in North Dakota … is about the whole of the First Amendment, and the whole of a constitution that imposes a rule of law not just on citizens but on corporations and on prosecutors. The authorities in North Dakota are shredding the U.S. Constitution with their assaults on the right

  • to assemble
  • to petition for the redress of grievances
  • to document these assemblies and petitions, and
  • to provide the people of North Dakota and the United States with the information that free peoples require in order to makes choices in a democratic society.

So, are we a nation of sheep?

The events unfolding in North Dakota–Did you know about them before reading this piece?–are a microcosm of the democratic experiment. Be real careful for whom you vote. Think about it.


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