I love freedom of speech. I love exercising this freedom frequently. Thus, it is my mission to find free speech places. These are places where a significant number of people are gathered and I feel comfortable giving a dance performance in connection with a message. I present the activist message via 3-fold display board.
I was so excited about visiting the 2012 Clinton County Fair and speaking freely. The concern existed that authorities might tell me this was not allowed, that I had to rent a booth or get a permit in order to do any kind of outreach. The problem with these scenarios is that there is no sense of freedom in them. I put the concern out of my mind.
On Saturday, July 21st, 2012, I bought my ticket and entered the Clinton County Fairgrounds. I proceeded to the dairy cow barn where I planned to conduct a news conference on the subject of farm animal protection, this being done as part of my campaign as the Green Party candidate in the 21st Congressional District race. As is often the case, the news media chose not to attend. Nevertheless, I had transmitted a Media Advisory to the news organizations of the 21st CD well in advance of the event. I had done all that I could do to engage their interest. I was good.
I felt slightly disappointed that no news media had showed up, but this negativity was fleeting. I continued strongly upon the path of finding my free speech excitement. I proceeded to the most appealing and attractive spot on the fairgrounds. This was the Talent Show venue. There in the crowd that stood watching the stage performances, I opened up my 3-fold display board. Now I was doing something that felt good. People were reading the message. I was communicating. Viva Free Speech!
Didn’t last long. A disgruntled male, radiating an aura of authority started over toward me making close-up-the-sign gestures. I turned my face away from him and kept on with the free speech. He came up close and stated that I was not allowed to have a sign. I told him that it was the United States of America and I was intent upon having my freedom of speech. I asked him what entity owned the fairgrounds. He ignored my reasonable question, pulled out his cell phone and called the police. This person had no respect whatsoever for freedom of speech.
When the several armed officers arrived on the scene, I walked up to meet them with sign full open. They ordered me to close it up, which I then did. I explained to them my hopes of using freedom of speech to communicate with voters. The officer in charge explained that he had been ordered to remove me from the fairgrounds. I asked about ownership of the property and stood my ground on the matter of it being unlawful for them to stop me from speaking freely if the fairgrounds was owned by Clinton County. Nevertheless, I did not want to be arrested, so I cooperated and left.
I have experienced such interference with free speech many times during the past several decades of activism. Once a person in a position of authority has complained to the police about someone doing something that they consider to be unacceptable, the police follow the route of bringing an end to the complained of activity with no regard for civil liberties. There is no justice in this. There is no fairness in this. There is no freedom in this. There is a considerable amount of frustration in this. It is all about the people who have the power using that power to minimize the effectiveness of anyone’s efforts to have a tiny bit of power.
This is the truth. America is a very repressive society. My heart yearns to break free of that repression. I want to be free to walk into a crowd gathered in a public place and open up a message board that speaks from my heart about the harm that Americans are doing to the Earth and the inhabitants of the Earth. I want to be free to set my message board on a bench or place it on a stand that I have carried there and then dance in the joy of my freedom of speech. That is the America that I love and will work relentlessly to create. I believe that it will take a revolution to have that America. I am calling on all Americans who love freedom of speech to start using it now. Start telling the people in power that they have come dangerously close to damaging our Earth so badly that our lives on Earth will be full of suffering. Start telling them that you want them to step down so that you can take the power and lead to a more beautiful way of living.
– Donald L. Hassig, Director, Cancer Action NY and Cancer Action News Network; P O Box 340, Colton, NY USA 13625; 315.262.2456; http://www.canceractionny.org