Authoritarian Ignorance of First Amendment, pt MMM

What better inaugural post for a blog than a direct and shameless violation of the First Amendment?

Aside from the trampling of civil liberties, the recording is notable for the officer’s exasperation. The young man is doing nothing more than attempting to perform the job that has been ordered of him–confiscating all recording devices from a public meeting– and he’s forced to deal with several citizens who are making his life more difficult. It’s unlikely that the officer knows that citizens can record public events with or without authority, even though that might seem like an important aspect of his work. Like most people, this kid was just trying to perform the tasks assigned to him with minimal headache.

The problem is the people who voted Steve Chabot into office in the first place. Among all the pageantry and flair of his political campaign, I’d hope that Chabot would be asked to demonstrate a minimal understanding of the Bill of Rights and the natural rights of man. I’d hope that some Joe the Plumber would ask Candidate Steve if he might be inclined to order the closure of politically controversial websites or the confiscation of recording devices at public events. Maybe the good people of Ohio took it for granted that anyone with the resources and incentive to run for office would know that he can’t squelch the First Amendment on a whim, and maybe they’re as disturbed as I am by the behavior that he and his officers of the peace demonstrated at this meeting.

But I doubt it. The most likely scenario is that neither the majority of the electorate, nor the officer, nor Senator Chabot knew that it’s legal to record elected officials doing their thing in public forums. With all the talk of jobs and honor and other assorted bull that candidates sling at election time, I doubt any of them ever gave a moment’s thought to the limits of their minimal authority, moral or legal. Shame on you, Steve Chabot and Officer Kiddo, for your rank ignorance of basic human decency, not to mention the duties of public servants, and shame on Ohio for not vetting the little Napoleon they’ve inflicted on the rest of us thanks to the indolence of their electorate.

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