Free Speech Zones in the Land of Fruits and Nuts

Regular reader and roving California correspondence Larry Gross shared the photo above of a sign post at Yosemite National Park. “We’re seeing these signs at other places including the Walmart,” he reports.

What an interesting concept — special zones where people can exercise their right to free speech. I wonder what rights people have outside these zones. Only in California.

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13 responses to “Free Speech Zones in the Land of Fruits and Nuts

  1. Maybe another way to look at it is that there is an explicit acknowledgement that the “right” does exist and the owner of the property, including the Govt is going to stand back and allow folks to have their say.

    WalMart is, in fact, a private sector company but they acknowlede they are a public place and that folks may exercise free speech there also Perhaps in both cases there is an implicit idea that the designated place is “authorized” while other venues may not be so “friendly”?

  2. That may be an NPS thing, not a California thing.

  3. I’d love to hear more of the details from Larry but it looks like a sign near a naturally public place inside a national park. Muir Woods, for example, has a restaurant / store / gathering point at the base of the various trails that run through that park. I could easily imagine one group or another using that area to protest this or that. I imagine whoever runs the park puts those signs where there are likely to be demonstrations, protests, people declaring “the end is near” etc. The sign basically says “The park doesn’t endorse them or their causes and they don’t pay the park a fee”. I assume that free speech is allowed everywhere but the signs are for those areas where people tend to gather and where protests, demonstrations and supporters of The Church of the Cosmic Muffin tout their causes.

  4. I saw something like this at Muir Woods and at the Marin County side of the Golden Gate Bridge in April. Conceptually, reserving a section of real estate in a heavily used public facility for First Amendment protests, speeches, etc., seems reasonable as the government agency cannot allow its normal business operations or use by the public to come to a halt. People wishing to engage in a larger free speech exercise can apply for a permit.

    I do, however, think there are some cases that have refused to convict protestors who have exercised their free speech rights outside designated areas especially when they are located far away from the person(s) being protested.

  5. The thing is .. most Californians are fine with these things and when you get right down to it – Oregon and Washington are also. California is a very diverse mix of folks … Yosemite – you’re just as likely to hear Spanish or Japanese or German or Hindi as English. When Yosemite was created as a National Park – it became famous – worldwide and people of all cultures flock there to see it’s majesty – which is the same – no matter the culture or language.

    California and Yosemite say something about America. How you feel about that may say something about you…

  6. Yeah, I spent weeks up high, climbing those walls.

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