Last week I visited Muir Woods for the first time. My husband and I laughed at the sign that designated a small area their ‘First Amendment Area.’ He took a picture of me exercising my first amendment rights in the appropriate place. All good fun. And then I posted the picture to Facebook.
The more friends and family who were offended by the idea that the whole park wasn’t a ‘First Amendment Area,’ the more it started to irk me, too. So I did a little Googling. Apparently, someone else wrote to the park about the Area and the park wrote back and said, among other things, that people come to the park for peace and quiet, and the limitations are the reason that there aren’t huge banners up on Half Dome.
I also visited a site called Ask The Lawyer and read about the general limitations of the First Amendment. The gist I got was that obscenity is not protected, but ideas are. So I suppose you can’t say, “The Irish are %&#*! hilarious,” but you could say, “Let’s not allow the Irish in our club.” Not sure about that.
Though I’m very law-abiding, I also have a secret anti-establishment streak. Therefore, I’m thinking about making a shirt that says “First Amendment Area” and going back to Muir Woods. Then somewhere along the trail I’ll whisper to someone, “What do you think of congress? How about that gun control? Don’t be afraid; I’m a mobile First Amendment Area.” I’ll whisper it so people can still enjoy the birdsong and creek babbling. “What? You think I’m an idiot? Well, I’m glad you said what you felt. That’s what it’s all about. Enjoy your hike.”
Until I can make it back to Muir Woods, I can at least declare this blog a First Amendment Area. Say what you will – I won’t be offended. Of course I might say what I think about what you said, and I hope you won’t be offended either.
In my first ever blog post, I mentioned that I am only funny online, because real time moves too fast. And it has just occurred to me that in real time I missed a golden opportunity. Not the shirt thing, but if, on our hike, my husband had said anything that I disagreed with, I could have just told him, “Shut up, Honey. We’re not in the First Amendment Area.”