Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Protesting at West Point

Originally posted 7/15, updated and bumped to the top of the blog today

You may want to protest military activities, but the 1st Amendment doesn't allow you to do so on military installations. Courts have consistently held that the commander's need to maintain "good order and discipline" on post trumps some civilians desire to shoot his mouth off. You can stand outside the gate and do that, if you so desire.

As the last strains of "The Star-Spangled Banner" faded before the annual Army-Navy basketball game at West Point, Nick Mottern took off his jacket and revealed his T-shirt. It bore the letter "Q." His seven friends standing alongside him in the next-to-last row of the Holleder Center took off their jackets and shirts, uncovering their T-shirts.

They stood silently, each wearing a shirt emblazoned with lettering that when put together spelled out "U.S. Out of Iraq."

A few minutes later, they were escorted out by military police and the facility manager.

A month later, the garrison commander banned them from West Point for five years...

A lawyer for the U.S. Attorney's Office said West Point officials were not singling out the protesters. All political demonstrations are barred at the facility, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mara Trager said.

Back during the Vietnam War, hippies infrequently tried to disrupt parades. Two companies of cadets in each parade were trained how to respond if anyone ever tried to rush the color guard and take the flags.

Update, 7/22/09: As I sad above, courts consistently hold that you have no right to protest on a military installation:

A federal jury ruled today that West Point officials did not violate the rights of eight anti-war protesters during a 2004 demonstration on the military base.

The eight protesters, all from Westchester, had claimed that their First Amendment rights were violated by facility manager John Spisso and garrison commander Army Col. Ann Horner when they first booted them from an Army-Navy basketball game and then banned them for five years for staging a protest wearing T-shirts that read "U.S. Out of Iraq."

Long-haired hippies, smokin' dope and bad-mouthing their country :-)


Anonymous said...

I dont see how that protest disrupted "good order and discipline".

Darren said...

You don't have to.

MikeAT said...


“Anonymous said...
I dont see how that protest disrupted ‘good order and discipline’.”

If you can’t understand that, then please stay're not adding anything to the conversation.

Anonymous said...

They stood in silence. The game was not even held up. No good order was at all threatened.

rightwingprof said...

"They stood in silence"


maxutils said...

If you have a sound military policy, you needn't worry about protesters. Sane people will say, "jeez -- look at the wackos." On the other hand, if you feel the need to silence them, perhaps that says something about your policy.

That said, of course they have the right to quash the protest. I wouldn't expect Bill Gates to tolerate anti-monopoly protests at his corporate retreats, either. Then again, if the protesters are there, doesn't that say something?

rightwingprof said...

"If you have a sound military policy, you needn't worry about protesters"

That's complete crap. Protests have nothing to do with policy; they have everything to do with hating the military, and the US. Protests began not a week after 9/11, "Not in my name!" The only thing that had happened was the murder of over 3000 American citizens.

maxutils said...

rightwingprof, I don't disagree with you -- but, what I said was, you don't need to worry about the protests. Those were protesters that were largely ignored, and when they weren't, were ridiculed. My point was that even though you will always have protesters, you needn't worry about them if you're doing the right thing -- because they won't have any legs. I think that banning the protests shows a lack of confidence in what you're doing. Let 'em protest -- sane people know what the truth is.

Darren said...

Let them protest--but don't give them the venue.

It's the same as some of my so-called anonymous commenters here on RotLC. They can call me names, bring up unrelated topics and attack me on those, say entirely non-sensical things, but after a point I don't even post their comments.

They're free to make their points, but not in *my* house. And this blog is the online version of *my* house.

maxutils said...

You can deny the venue -- but why? Making the effort to deny them gives more credence than ignoring them.