By and large, I do not go to political speeches, rallies, or events… I generally read faster than most people talk, so I tend to get bored, and the honest reality is that I hate having to listen to people tell other people that they are going to to do something when they have next to no actual interest in actually doing it. I guess I am old-fashioned like that.
In the end, though, it is probably just as well I do not waste my time at those public celebrations of prevarication, just to minimize the chances of something like this happening to me:
Representative Steven Chabot, if you did actually instruct those police officers to take cameras away from law-abiding citizens in attendance to your little speech, you have egregiously violated your oath of office, broken your word to your constituents, and failed in your duties as a duly-elected representative of the people, and should be held to the appropriate consequences for those actions, up to and including ejection from office.
And to the police officer who unlawfully confiscated people’s phones and video cameras, you should be brought up on charges of armed robbery and assault at the least, and administrative proceedings should be commenced to drum you out of your respective police force. Yes, this halfwitted Representative may have “ordered” you to confiscate private citizens’ property, but that does not give you the right to do so, and you bloody well should have known better… or do they not teach the Constitution in Police Academy any more?
This was a blatant trampling of those people’s First Amendment-protected rights, and should be regarded – and handled – as such.
But it will not be. They almost never are. Representative Chabot will continue going around like he is better than his constituents, and people will continue tolerating having their rights squashed before their very eyes because they are too afraid of saying “No”… because we all know where that ends up.
However, I say “almost” for a reason – it would appear as though the First Circuit Court of Appeals, surprisingly enough based in Boston, has the faintest of understandings on how our country was supposed to work:
The First Amendment issue here is, as the parties frame it, fairly narrow: is there a constitutionally protected right to videotape police carrying out their duties in public? Basic First Amendment principles, along with case law from this and other circuits, answer that question unambiguously in the affirmative. It is firmly established that the First Amendment’s aegis extends further than the text’s proscription on laws “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,” and encompasses a range of conduct related to the gathering and dissemination of information. As the Supreme Court has observed, “the First Amendment goes beyond protection of the press and the self-expression of individuals to prohibit government from limiting the stock of information from which members of the public may draw.” …
Granted, in this particular case, we are talking about police officers, and I sincerely doubt that Representative Chabot would consider himself “equal” to a police officer, but it is a step in the right direction.
Unfortunately, it is also a step we never should have had to take. I wonder what our Founding Fathers would think of our having to constantly stand up and point out that the Constitution really does mean what it says…