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Commentary :: DNC
Call to Boycott the "Free Speech Zones"
13 Jul 2004
The notion of a "Free Speech Zone" is absurd. The First Amendment guarantees the ability to speak out against state policies without fear of retaliation. The fact that the people of this country have willingly forfeited this basic human right to the State is dreadful. Now, the State is attempting to divert attention away from this erosion of the Bill of Rights by artificially constructing FSZs. Scattered pockets throughout the city that are set aside for free speech is not a manifestation of a democratic society.
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Call to Boycott the "Free Speech Zones"

Scattered throughout El Salvador, Indonesia, and other so-called "developing" nations are what are known as Export Processing Zones (EPZs). These zones, sometimes referred to as maquiladoras in the Spanish-speaking world, are walled off from the surrounding countryside and house manufacturing plants designed to cheaply and efficiently produce consumer goods for sale in the American marketplace. Workers pass through the EPZ gates each and every morning, generally on a six-day week/twelve-hour day routine. The entrance to the EPZ is heavily guarded. Outside, the local police and military protect the perimeter. Inside, the private corporate army runs the show. Workers passing through the checkpoint are subject to search, interrogation, detainment, or arrest. Once inside, company thugs patrol the workplace, looking for workers failing to meet quota, talking on the job, getting up to use the bathroom, etc. Union organizers are blacklisted from not only the EPZ, but from all surrounding EPZs.

The word "zone" implies an artificial construct; an area of land set-aside for a specific purpose, usually for a purpose of conflicting notions with the surrounding landscape. In the case of the EPZs, this purpose is the advancing of the neo-liberal economic program. The land inside the EPZ is governed not by the national government, but rather the private company. EPZs may dictate their own policy, enforce their own rules, and inflict their own punishment.

The artificial construct of a "zone" has now found its way to America, under the guise of a "free speech zone" (FSZ). Much as the EPZs serve to viciously oppress workers, FSZs serve to viciously repress basic civil liberties. Under the banner of "national security" or "public safety", FSZs are erected prior to major protests. The basic layout of a FSZ is virtually identical to an EPZ. Protestors entering the FSZ are subject to search, interrogation, detainment, or arrest. Once inside, numerous basic rights are forfeited to the State. In this way, the State is able to isolate dissent to one compact, easily manageable "zone". An added bonus provided by the FSZ is the ability to quickly clampdown and terminate dissent at a moment's notice.

The notion of a "Free Speech Zone" is absurd. The First Amendment guarantees the ability to speak out against state policies without fear of retaliation. The fact that the people of this country have willingly forfeited this basic human right to the State is dreadful. Now, the State is attempting to divert attention away from this erosion of the Bill of Rights by artificially constructing FSZs. Scattered pockets throughout the city that are set aside for free speech is not a manifestation of a democratic society.

Politics aside, FSZs also serve a major public safety hazard. Should the State clampdown in attempt to silence dissent, the resulting panic and stampede inside an enclosed area can be dangerous - even fatal. The potential release of chemical weapons into a FSZ is an unneeded and unacceptable risk. A police riot inside a fenced in FSZ would be a disastrous outcome. An isolated protest pen surrounded by armed police is an accident waiting to happen.

Furthermore, the FSZ in proximity to the Fleet Center is a danger in itself. As our tax dollars fund the endless Big Dig, the excess materials have been thrown carelessly into the FSZ itself. The city claims that the massive mound of dangerous debris will be removed prior to the DNC. The truth of this claim remains to be seen. Regardless, the facts speak for themselves. One entrance to the FSZ is only 5' 7" high. The other is a mere 10' wide. The police claim they will allow everyone to enter and exit freely. The truth to this claim also remains to be seen, however, it is obvious that the measurements will never allow a mass exodus should the need arise. People entering the FSZ will be searched. The police have announced that absolutely ever person will be searched, and have installed a complete ban of all bags. The size of the FSZ is far from adequate. The Boston Fire Department has declared the zone unfit for over 1,300 people.

Inside the FSZ will be a wide range of reactionary or even fascist politics. Various anti-choice groups will be rallying inside. The Zionists have also proclaimed their intent to celebrate racist genocidal foreign policies. The act of entering the FSZ will not only serve to increase the audience of these groups, but will also manifest a violation of working-class solidarity. The State seeks to divide protestors against each other. If our numbers are partitioned between those who refuse to enter the FSZ and those who bow to the State's wishes, police repression against those outside the FSZ can surely be expected. The only solution is collective refusal to enter the "Free Speech Zone".

The Bl(A)ck Tea Society is calling for a boycott of any and all "Free Speech Zones". The permits we have obtained cover the inside of the FSZ, however we do not want anyone to actually go inside. We will stand in solidarity with our fellow workers condemned to enslavement within the EPZs of the world. We will refuse to accept the erosion of basic civil liberties outlined within the Bill of Rights. The act of entering a FSZ is poor judgment in every possible way. It ratifies the State's ability to channel dissent and erode our rights. It legitimatizes the fascist organizations scheduled to rally inside it. It creates a major public safety hazard

The First Amendment of the Constitution promises the right to free speech. The Constitution is still in effect in America. The question remains: is Boston in America?

The Bl(A)ck Tea Society encourages all protestors to engage in lively protest to voice their message and celebrate their cause. Rather than legitimatising the fascist politics of, and in, the FSZ, take to the streets! Occupy Canal Street, Friend Street, Lancaster Street, or Portland Street. Initiate a rally; bring your creativity, your drums, your dancers, and let your voices be heard!

Don't go in the pens!

- The Bl(A)ck Tea Society

---------------------------------------------- email contact: nodnc04 (at) hush.com ---------------------------------------------- on the web: http://blackteasociety.org ---------------------------------------------- email announcement list: http://lists.riseup.net/www/info/dnc2004 ---------------------------------------------- donate to the convergence: http://blackteasociety.org/donate.php ----------------------------------------------

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Comments

Re: Call to Boycott the "Free Speech Zones"
14 Jul 2004
This is the best-written communique BTS has put out so far. Keep up the good work!
Re: Call to Boycott the "Free Speech Zones"
15 Jul 2004
Going into the FSZ is giving up and saying, "Alright, you can treat me like a sheep. I'll follow the herd." As BTS says, the free speech zones are unsafe, unconstitutional, and also just plain laughable. You shall never contain our discontent or dissent! BE wild and free; stay out of the FSZ!
Re: Call to Boycott the "Free Speech Zones"
11 Nov 2005
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