"Keep Off The Grass" appears nowhere in the First Amendment

holy turf: 250,000 attend a papal mass in Central Park in 1995

The title above the image is a direct quote from the editors of the New York Post, supporting the application of United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) for a permit to rally in Central Park on the eve of the Republican Convention.

I can't remember ever getting excited (in a good way) by an editorial in the sad sheet which I no longer think of as a newspaper but rather a political and economic screed for its owner, Rupert Murdoch. Maybe it's an aberration, but today the old thing published a real editorial again. Could it be that the son, Lachlan, isn't just a pretty face?

The editorial appeared April 30 and while it is no longer available on their site, this is the complete text:


A gaggle of lefty agitators wants to convene in Central Park this summer to
give President Bush a little grief. But the Parks Department says no,
because they might bend the grass.

Well, too bad about that. "Keep Off The Grass" appears nowhere in the First

United for Peace and Justice applied for a rally permit for the park's Great
Lawn for Aug. 29, the opening day of the Republican National Convention.

The Parks folks said no on Wednesday, citing possible damage to the lawn.

And, sure - it is a great lawn.

But it happens to belong to the people of New York City.

If it were in Boston, it would be called the Common - a space set aside by
law and tradition for the vigorous expression of political opinion.

And if the lawn is harshly used, the solution seems clear enough: Plant a
new lawn. Grass seed is cheap.

We hold no brief for the views of United for Peace and Justice; indeed, the
War on Terror is meant precisely to secure peace and justice for Iraqis - as
well as guarantee for Americans the right to demonstrate peacefully in

No matter what some groundskeeper-cum-bureaucrat in City Hall thinks.

In lead editorials today both the NYTimes and El Diario joined the Post in coming out strongly in support of the Central Park permit, and the Times cautions the Mayor about any attempt "to declare Manhattan to be a no-free-speech zone during convention week."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg lobbied hard to attract the Republican convention to New York this summer. Now it's coming, and with it swarms of protesters. The city is obliged to offer hospitality to both the conventioneers and the demonstrators.

. . . .

In this era of highly scripted conventions, the protests outside the convention hall may offer the most authentic political discourse of the week. When the nation watches what happens in New York during the convention, we want everyone to fully appreciate the glories of the city, and the way it has come back from the disaster of 9/11. But viewers also need to see a New York that is and always has been a place in which political expression is valued and protected.

The march and rally organizers themselves are broadcasting the widest possible invitation for what will be a massive, extraordinarily important expression of dissent. Part of an email from UFPJ's Bill Dobbs, where I first learned about the Post editorial:
August 29! Mark your calendars and come on down to NYC, say NO to George W.
Bush's empire-building and war-making. United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ)
is organizing a not-to-be-missed protest for Sunday, August 29th, a
curtainraiser for the Republican National Convention which begins the
following day. There will be lots more protest during the convention, from
Monday, August 30 through Thursday, September 2.
New York needs your bodies, your voices and your creativity that week, but it's for the sake of the entire world.

[image from CNN]