Sunday, May 20, 2007

Protests planned during Bush visit to Coast Guard Academy

One of the local papers reports that the Secret Service wants to move antiwar protesters from the street in front of the Coast Guard Academy during President Bush's visit Wednesday.
According to the report the protest organizers had already gotten permits for their demonstration and now the Secret Service wants to move them to some side street.
Obviously security is a concern during the president's visit, so some reasonable restrictions on protesters is justified. On the other hand, in many prior instances the administration has used the "security" reason to impose extreme restrictions on people's right to express themselves. Obviously the Secret Service has a duty to make sure no physical harm can come to the president and that there's no opportunity for someone with a gun or a bomb to get within range.
But a banner that says "Impeach Bush" is no physical threat and I don't see how there's any rational justification for removing it if it's otherwise allowable. Likewise, peaceful protesters should not be banished to some site a mile away just so the president's out of earshot.
None of the successful or unsuccessful attempts on the life of a president so far has come from a group of protesters. Logically this makes sense. If you're an assassin or terrorist you're not going to set up in the middle of a crowd of protesters. No, you're going to strike during a neutral or supportive venue in order to achieve surprise. You'd probably make the president safer by allowing protesters nearby!

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