Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
Suppose a guy walks down the interstate highway during rush hour, blocking traffic and stalling thousands of motorists for hours, and when arrested says: “I did it as an act of non-verbal communication to protest police violence because Black Lives Matter.”
We know the First Amendment protects citizens’ right to speak freely, including the right to protest government policy. We know the courts have defined “speech” to include non-verbal communication such as nude dancing and therefore, presumably, walking.
Should the walker’s First Amendment defense require that he be found Not Guilty of Obstructing Traffic? Liberals would say “Yes” and many Moderates might agree.
Change the facts a bit: instead of walking down the freeway, he rapes a co-ed. Or burns a store. Or shoots a cop. If the same defense is raised, should the same result obtain? For many Liberals, probably so. But for Moderates, here’s a crucial question: if the First Amendment should not excuse rape, arson or murder but it should excuse obstructing traffic, why?