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Responsibility and Respect

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"First they came for the Socialists and Communists, and I did nothing.

Then, they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not protest.

After that, it was the Social Democrats, and I averted my eyes and held my tongue.

Then, they came after the Jews, and I covered my ears so I would not hear their cries.

And then, they took away the intellectuals and the academics, many of them friends, and I did nothing.

Finally, when they came for me, and there was no one left to protest my arrest."

We know from history that the oligarchs will not be happy until they restrict the franchise to such a small portion of the American population, that our elections are meaningless. We know that today's oligarchs are the spiritual descendants of the Council of Four Hundred Tyrants and the Council of Thirty Tyrants that ruled Athens in 411 and 404 B.C.E. respectively. We know that the middle class has always scared the oligarchs to death, because we will not permit them to steal from the U.S. Treasury, or involve us in wars to protect their interests, rather than those of the United States, without spending time in jail when we catch them. We are sometimes slow in recognizing their perfidy, but sooner or later their Vietnams , Watergates , Iran-Contras, Savings and Loan scandal, and Iraq Wars, catch up with them. We the People are at the end of our patience; forgive and forget is a thing of the past.

"Fiat justitia, et ruat caelum! ( Let justice be done, though the heavens may fall!)"--Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesonius, father-in-law of Julius Caesar.

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This newest generation of Americans are tired of permitting the pardoning of a Caspar Weinberger, or the commutation of a "Scooter" Libby, without an allocution to the charges, whether they have been convicted or not. Nor should an Oliver North have his charges dropped after his conviction is overturned because it is convenient. This generation recognizes these actions for what they are: obstruction of justice. The rules must change so that the wealthy and influential are no longer given an advantage by their friends and acquaintances in America's courts. They have to change if our Constitution is to survive.

My generation--the Baby Boomers--grew tired; we hit thirty and most of us ran out of energy, or got busy trying to raise a family on a shrinking percentage of the nation's income and wealth. Unlike our parent's generation, mom and dad both had to work to make ends meet: making it to our children's little league baseball and soccer practices and games were pretty much the limit of our energy. (For a more in depth look at this see my November 22, 2011 OpEdNews article "Apology .")

And some of us sold out, became the thing we once said we hated most: exploiters of our fellow human beings.

Thank God for this new generation: they have proven Thomas Jefferson prescient once again:

"[Our] object is to secure self-government by the republicanism of our constitution, as well as by the spirit of the people; I am not among those who fear the people.  They and not the rich are our dependence for continued freedom."--Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816. The Complete Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Memorial Edition; volume 15: page 39; 1904.  Emphasis added. 

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Justice Marshall continues his dissent:

"In late autumn of 1982, respondents sought permission to conduct a round-the-clock demonstration in Lafayette Park and on the Mall. Part of the demonstration would include homeless persons sleeping outside in tents without any other amenities. Respondents sought to begin their demonstration on a date full of ominous meaning to any homeless person: the first day of winter. Respondents were similarly purposeful in choosing demonstration sites"The primary purpose for making sleep an integral part of the demonstration was 'to reenact the central reality of homelessness"and to impress upon public consciousness, in as dramatic a way as possible, that homelessness is a widespread problem, often ignored, that confronts its victims with life-threatening deprivations"'

In a long line of cases, this Court has afforded First Amendment protection to expressive conduct that qualifies as symbolic speech. See, e.g., Tinker v. Des Moines School Dist., 393 U.S. 503 "] 393 U.S. 503 (1969) (black armband worn by students in public school as protest against United States policy in Vietnam war); Brown v. Louisiana, 383 U.S. 131 (1966) (sit-in by Negro students in 'whites only' library to protest segregation); Stromberg v. California, 283 U.S. 359 (1931) (flying red flag as gesture of support for communism). In light of the surrounding context, respondents' proposed activity meets the qualifications. The Court has previously acknowledged the importance of context in determining whether an act can properly be denominated as 'speech' for First Amendment purposes and has provided guidance concerning the way in which courts should 'read' a context in making this determination. The leading case is 393 U.S. 503 (1969) (black armband worn by students in public school as protest against United States policy in Vietnam war); Brown v. Louisiana, 383 U.S. 131 (1966) (sit-in by Negro students in 'whites only' library to protest segregation); Stromberg v. California, 283 U.S. 359 (1931) (flying red flag as gesture of support for communism). In light of the surrounding context, respondents' proposed activity meets the qualifications. The Court has previously acknowledged the importance of context in determining whether an act can properly be denominated as 'speech' for First Amendment purposes and has provided guidance concerning the way in which courts should 'read' a context in making this determination. The leading case is Spence v. Washington, 418 U.S. 405 (1974), where this Court held that displaying a United States flag with a peace symbol attached to it was conduct protected by the First Amendment . The Court looked first to the intent of the speaker -- whether there was an 'intent to convey a particularized message' -- and second to the perception of the audience -- whether 'the likelihood was great that the message would be understood by those who viewed it.' Id. at 410-411. Here, respondents clearly intended to protest the reality of homelessness by sleeping outdoors in the winter in the near vicinity of the magisterial residence of the President of the United States. In addition to accentuating the political character of their protest by their choice of location and mode of communication, respondents also intended to underline the meaning of their protest by giving their demonstration satirical names. Respondents planned to name the demonstration on the Mall 'Congressional Village,' and the demonstration in Lafayette Park, ' Reaganville II.' App. 13."

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Richard Girard is an increasingly radical representative of the disabled and disenfranchised members of America's downtrodden, who suffers from bipolar disorder (type II or type III, the professionals do not agree). He has put together a team to (more...)
 

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