There has been a lot in the news, here in central Colorado, about the upcoming Democratic National Convention, set to start in less than two weeks.
The stories cover everything from the minutia (such as who is charging what to whom to rent their homes for DNC Lodging)to the silly (such as who is concerned about when and where they can get tickets) to the serious. It is this last that I want to talk about.
It's not as if the renting of property to celebrities for obnoxious amounts of money isn't important. And it could be argued that getting tickets to the last night's speech at Mile-High could be considered as important to some, but these things are not, in my opinion a big deal.
The "important" topic is whether the DNC will be a fair and honest platform for people to state their views. Denver is paying good lip service for allowing the inclusion of dissenting viewpoints, they are not (as Atlanta did a few years back for the Olympics) shipping the homeless out of town with one-way bus tickets, they are also not, however, giving dissenters the right to protest anywhere where they have a chance of being seen.
At least it is not like the Boston DNC where they will be walled-in and kept out of sight. They will be about six-hundred yards from the convention venue and enclosed inside a demarcated sight but they will be in sight of anyone who happens to look to the southwest, and squinting, into binoculars...
There has to be a balance between the DNC's right to have a safe and uninterrupted convention and the rights of the protesters to make their feelings known. They have a first amendment right to give voice to their opinions, and the Denver police say that this will be satisfied from the distance and behind the fences, but, where does the conflict between their right to be heard and the right of the DNC to stage their convention their way?
If the news media are correct, this is going to be fought in court for some time to come. It should be fun watching, though!
Wherever you are today, I hope you'll exercise your right to free speech, while you still have one!
Don Bergquist - August 14, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA