It Must Be So Awesome to be a Rich Person in Tennessee

Last night on Channel 5, they aired a story about how all entertainers and sports figures and people who are friends with people in the government need to do in order to get a THP escort anywhere is call and ask.

And then the taxpayers pay for it.

Yes, if you are Joe Rockstar and you want a THP escort from the Bridgestone Arena to your hotel in Franklin, taxpayers will foot the bill. It doesn’t cost you a dime.

But if you want to peaceably assemble and petition the government for a redress of your grievances? A right guaranteed to us all–even the poor people–in the Constitution, Tennessee now thinks they can say when you can protest–conveniently during work hours for most people, charge you for protesting–$65 a day, and require you to carry a million dollars in liability insurance.

To use land bought and paid for by taxpayers.

And who in Tennessee isn’t a taxpayer?

So, you pay for it and then have to pay to use it.

Honestly, I return to the thought I had earlier–most people do not understand the rules we’ve agreed to live under and, in the cases when they do, they don’t like it.

So, here are a bunch of folks sitting out on legislative plaza–a public space owned by the state–protesting. For weeks. This is their constitutional right–to assemble and petition the government. There’s no time limit in the Constitution. No wording on how long they can be there or how it’s cool if they have to pay.

And Haslam’s administration decides to start charging them–Tennessee taxpayers who already pay through their tax dollars for Legislative Plaza–to use Legislative Plaza to exercise their First Amendment rights.

And you know what? It doesn’t matter if they’re “outside agitators,” which they are not, because everyone who purchases something in Tennessee becomes as much of a tax payer as people who live here. Welcome to Tennessee, where your stake as a tourist for as long as you’re here is as great as my stake as a resident.

And the thing is that, as much as I like to believe that Haslam and his buddies are a bunch of nincompoops, they aren’t. Every single one of them knows (and now it seems that the courts may agree) that you can’t have Free Speech that the government dictates the time, place, cost, and expression of.

They just don’t like it. So, they ignore any obligation they have as political leaders to try to find some Constitutional solution (I’m guessing because that Constitutional solution is “Wait for it to get so cold that they go home.”) and just go straight for the Cartman-esque “I do what I want.”

And they get to.

It just makes me so angry. If you don’t like the Constitution, work to change it. If you like the Bill of Rights when it applies to your side, then grow the fuck up and defend it when it’s invoked rightly by your political opponents. And if you can’t live by the law, don’t run for office.

So, just to clarify, now in Tennessee, in order to exercise your Constitutional rights, you have to pay to play.

If that’s not deeply corrupt, I just don’t know what is.

6 thoughts on “It Must Be So Awesome to be a Rich Person in Tennessee

  1. “Corrupt” is such a dirty word. It’s “Leadership” or “Family Values” (mustn’t let the kiddies be exposed to hippies; won’t someone think of the children?)!

  2. First off, I do agree with pretty much everything you said there.

    But I must make one tiny point and say that the language chosen for this “petition for redress of grievances” is confrontational and militaristic.

    “Occupy” does not carry connotations of peaceful assembly.

    That’s been one of my main gripes with this whole thing. When you have a point you want to discuss, it doesn’t always pay to come out swinging.

    Now the oligarchy can feel perfectly justified in quashing what they deem to be a threatening display.

  3. Well, yeah, but it’s not like the Occupy Nashville people got to pick how it was branded. And I’ve been down there two weekends in a row now for other things–SFB and then to go to the museum–and they literally could not be less threatening nor more corny.

    The last thing Haslam needs is for cameras to turn out to watch him picking on 40 kids, you know?

    If cameras show people what Haslam thinks looks threatening, it will make him seem weak. I can’t believe no one pointed that out to him.

  4. Threatening? The occupiers are not threatening. They are being deliberately manipulated into paranoia by the cages that police put up to kettle them and the circle of armed officers glaring at them. If officials had tolerated them, like most of us ignore the union “shame on” signs, this would still be a peaceful event.

  5. Pingback: My Letter to Governor Haslam on the Restriction of Free Assembly on Public Land « Women's Health News

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