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Tomorrow should be interesting.
The same folks who brought you last week’s “Yes, Park Police Can Do Choke Holds and Body Slams” will be restaging their protest event at the Jefferson Memorial on a much larger scale. More than 3,000 people have RSVP’d to the “Dance Party @ TJ’s!!!” event page on Facebook, which announces another dancing demonstration scheduled to occur tomorrow at noon at the memorial.
Meanwhile, the National Park Service issued a statement this morning reiterating its position that the memorial is not a place for dancing. Poor guys: They’re stuck between a U.S. appeals court ruling that they’re bound to uphold, and a clutch of protesters ready to broadcast online any new missteps. I’m curious how they’re planning to manage this event without doing themselves even more PR damage.
As immature as last week’s protestors seemed, they fully achieved their goal: major coverage of the issue. A few folks (including the WaPo’s editorial board, natch) have taken the law-and-order position, saying that the issue of “to dance or not to dance” is too trivial to bother with, and why shouldn’t the memorials be cordoned off as solemn places of reflection?
But thankfully, most journalists seem to be coming down on the other side, pointing out that although this might be a fringe issue, it lies at the edge of something much weightier: the question of when it’s OK for our government to limit citizens’ freedom of expression.
My favorite view so far comes from the WaPo’s Petula Dvorak, who compares the arrests for dancing to something equally frivolous: handcuffing folks for flying kites. Nice analogy—and the best part is that she didn’t make it up. It happened here in 1970.