Another sad day — two decisions by the US Supreme Court have struck blows to the First Amendment.
One serious. One, well, OK, not so much. Can I mention nudity here, just to boost the web hits?
First, the Supreme Court upholds, in a negative sort of way, a decision by Bush II aides to exclude people from a public political event the then-president was attending because the people trying to get in had a bumper sticker on their car that said “no blood for oil,” which, obviously, shows a direct physical threat to the president so of course they needed to be excluded.
That’s why someone in the Bush camp obviously had people monitoring cars coming to that event, checking for dangerous folk. Everyone knows dangerous people use bumper stickers.
On the other hand, those people wearing side-arms at Obama speeches? Oh, just good old boy Americans, showing their freedom, maybe even helping the Secret Service protect us from commies, or muslims, or lib-rals, or something. Can never be too careful, no sir-ee bobby.
This is part and parcel of that whole “Free Speech Zone” idiocy that Bush started — part of the polarizing paranoia that politicians love to foster because it secures their base from any of that independent thought thing.
One used to think the entire nation was a free speech zone, but as it turns out the free speech is only allowed in that little fenced off area half a mile down the road — the rest has to be carefully controlled because people with bumper stickers might force the president to see an idea that makes him sad, or upset his little feelings, or something, God forbid.
Local content: Brigham City recently enacted a “free speech zone” ordinance, or something similar, requiring public protests to get permits and so forth. Right here in arch-conservative Utah, land of the ultra-free.
I thought this was America. Silly me. Everyone knows that protest is anti-American.
THE NUDITY THING I know you are wondering about: The Supreme Court also upheld, by refusing to review, a law Utah passed slapping an extra tax on nude bars and other sexually oriented businesses. The tax is 10 percent and considering the performers wear 10 percent — or maybe a whole lot less than that — fewer clothes than the average dancer, one wonders if this isn’t a weird sort of reverse taxation.
Or not. I never was good at math.
I am reminded of Tim Gurruster’s best all time lead ever, just about, reporting on nude bars in Ogden which said full nudity was legal because it was a form of expression: “Clad only in the First Amendment” he wrote, and who cares what else he said? It was a great lead.
It is not untypical for the legislature to slap extra taxes on stuff they don’t approve of — cigarettes, booze, naked women — because they know higher cost doesn’t hurt the revenue stream. That seems to be the rationalle here as well.
Still, another First Amendment case takes a hit.