OMNI'S 4TH OF JULY NEWSLETTER
From: Omnicenter Communications (email@example.com) on behalf of Dick Bennett (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sent: Fri 7/04/08 1:53 PM
Reply-to: Dick Bennett (email@example.com)
NEWSLETTER ON 4TH OF JULY, 2008, FOR A CULTURE OF PEACE, Compiled by Dick Bennett
OMNI SEEKS A WORLD FREE OF WAR AND THE THREAT OF WAR, A SOCIETY WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL, A COMMUNITY WHERE EVERY PERSON’S POTENTIAL MAY BE FULFILLED, AN EARTH RESTORED. INDIVIDUAL AND NATIONAL NONVIOLENCE, WORLD PEACE, HUMAN RIGHTS, SOCIAL and ECONOMIC JUSTICE, ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP PROTECTING SPECIES AND THE EARTH.
CONTENTS: We, the People: Thinking Outside the Box is Fireworks
OMNI’s Early July Events
FSTV July 4 Presentation of Zinn’s Voices
Essay on Shopping Malls vs. Freedom
The Shalom Center on Pres. Bush and a New DoI
FREE SPEECH TV
OMNI provides FSTV via CAT every morning. Many of today’s excellent programs focused on themes related to July 4; for example, readings from Howard Zinn’s Voices of the People’s History of the United States. Zinn gave linking narration to notable actors and authors (Danny Glover, Harris Yulin, Kurt Vonnegut, et al.) reading from John Brown, Fredrick Douglass, Mark Twain, and others, all protesting injustices of race, wealth, class, and empire.
FREE SPEECH AND SHOPPING MALLS
"Shopping Malls vs. Freedom?" By Dick Bennett
In 1938, the United States Supreme Court unanimously struck down an ordinance authorizing the arrest in Griffin, GA, of a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses for distributing handbills without a license. A year later the Court struck down an ordinance in Jersey City that required speakers to obtain a permit from city authorities. And in 1941 the Court affirmed the right of peaceful picketing as an expression of First Amendment Rights. Ordinances prohibiting free expression, the Court ruled, because they can be made the instrument of arbitrary suppression of free expression of views, are unconstitutional and invalid. These victories for free speech were victories especially for working people (the rich can hire a hall), for they guaranteed the right of all citizens to express their views freely on public sidewalks and parks hroughout the land. But defenders of freedom had not anticipated the restrictive consequences of shopping malls on free Communication.
In the towns of our country the people shopped by public streets and sidewalks. That's where the people were; that's where communication to the greatest number of people was possible. But then shopping malls gradually arrived. We didn’t know what had hit us. Suddenly they had replaced thousands of miles of shopping by public sidewalk.
Now, not only inside a mall, but in the parking outside, you could be expelled and even arrested for leafletting or picketing. The constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression was replaced by private property, real estate, shopping malls!
Whereas formerly private property had been the foundation of freedom-the yeoman farmer, the small businessman--, suddenly private property shopping malls had become a bastion against freedom all across the land.
By itself this extreme and now deeply entrenched reduction of freedom might not be so threatening. But recent years have witnessed increasing secrecy, censorship, surveillance, harrassment, arbitrary detention, and heavier methods of police state control as illustrated by rejection of Geneva Conventions, the "Patriot" Act, and the Military Commissions Act. While we are struggling to remove these
repressive barriers to democracy, we should also attempt to regain the sidewalks and streets taken from us by the owners of shopping malls.
How might we begin?
First, we can turn to the Constitution of the State of Arkansas. Although the Nixon Court modified the strong free speech laws of 1937-41, many state constitutions offer an affirmative declaration of the individual's right to free speech. For example, in Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robbins, the USSCt says the 5th amendment takings clause does not trump California’s free speech right. It has not been litigated in Arkansas, but our free speech clause is almost identical to California's.
Second, we are supported by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a treaty signed by the President and ratified by Congress. Article 19 of the UDHR declares: "everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression: This right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."
This 4th of July, 2008, let us begin a campaign against the usurpation of freedom by shopping malls by talking up the original commitment to freedom in the 1937-41 Supreme Court rulings and these state and treaty rights.
A Prophetic Voice in Jewish, Multireligious, and American Life
Dishonoring Jefferson or renewing America?--
Two responses to the Fourth of July
I am shocked to learn that the Thomas Jefferson Foundation has invited President Bush to speak on the Fourth of July at Monticello.
George W. Bush has replicated more of the ill deeds charged by the Declaration of Independence against King George III than any other President in our history. He is the first President to claim that torture is legitimate and to proclaim that he is violating the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution (requiring warrants to examine citizen's communications).
Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration precisely to resist that kind of usurpation of power. To invite Mr. Bush to speak on the Fourth of July at Monticello makes a travesty of that sacred day and the sacred work of Mr. Jefferson.
Of course, the far deeper dishonoring is the way the President has behaved toward the Declaration and the Constitution themselves --
And on the other hand, what would we write today if we ourselves were "Jefferson"? This is a brief passage from "Declaring Interdependence" (on our Website at http://www.shalomctr.org/node/656 ):
When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for the peoples of the earth to declare -
our interdependence with each other and with all the life-forms of the planet,
and our independence from efforts by the most powerful and most reckless among the national governments to create a new and global Empire;
Then a decent respect to the opinions of Humanity requires that we declare the causes that impel us to rise beyond the present Powers of the earth and to embody our planetary community in new social, political, and economic forms.
We hold these truths to be self-evident:
That all human beings are born with equal dignity and worth, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights: -
to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;
to the sharing of community;
to a rhythm of worthy work and shared rest that frees time for family, neighborhood, citizenly service, and spiritual reflection;
to a life-sustaining share of the earth's abundance;
to peace among all peoples;
and to a responsible relationship amidst the whole web of life upon this planet.
The present government of the United States has violated our rights, broken our laws, thwarted our hopes, and blocked many of the paths to change.
Within the United States, its actions are concentrating undemocratic power in the hands of the super-rich and a few favored corporations;
In the world at large, its actions are concentrating undemocratic power in a small group of gigantic global corporations and its own military.
To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world: _______________ [See our list in web site above or name your own.]
What do we do about this? We might take the opportunity of the Fourth of July to reflect on our lives in the body politic, to read this new Declaration and reread the old one and discuss their meaning. To treat these texts the way some of us treat the Passover Seder -- learning it, teaching it, enriching it. And then, like those who in 1776 with courage and determination pledged to each other "our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor" -- we might redeem the promise of our forebears and bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old, as they did.
Shalom, salaam, peace -- Arthur
SENATOR LINCOLN (202) 224-4843 Fax: (202) 228-1371.
Fayetteville office: 251-1380
Senator Mark Pryor: Phone: (202) 224-2353 Fax: (202) 228-0908
CONGRESSMAN Boozman: Lowell office: 479-725-0400.
DC address: 1708 Longworth House Office Bldng., Washington, DC 20515; 202-225-4301.