July 20, 2006


In re trespassing and soliciting laws in the state of Ohio:

An angry business owner just called, asking for my boss, who is not in today. The business owner was disgruntled with the return of our petitioners to the venue of his business and the "harassment" of his customers. Business owners have the upper hand over free political speech in the state of Ohio, in spite of it being ruled again and again as the most protected form of free speech. Due to the increasingly insular nature of society and the development of laws granting property rights unto businesses, it has become increasingly difficult in an already strenuous political environment for citizen-led initiatives, not unlike the one for which I (formerly) work(ed) to get ballot recognition. I believe that businesses, being a non-corporeal entity, are not entitled to the same rights as people and accordingly are not entitled to use these rights as businesses to disparage the rights of individuals.

Political speech is being stifled in our country and I would argue that it comes as a direct result of the greater corporatization of the society. Businesses are allowed to strong-arm individuals in the name of the free market, the free (but not necessarily fair) exchange of good amongst the modes of production and consumption. Discourse is being discouraged in the name of profit and the result is two-fold: as mentioned earlier, there is a greater insularity of individuals in today's society (to wit, it is ironic for someone who posts on an internet weblog to say that) and with greater drive to satisfy the material desires, there is less emphasis placed on intelligent discussion and general apathy grows from that.

Just my thoughts.



Anonymous said...


AC Ohio said...


Alex said...

Not that I am the pinnacle of political expression either, but while I do agree there is the illusion* of insularity, the drive for profit and satisfaction of material desires is not the causal element for general political apathy. Education, primarily the focus on standardized testing, is perhaps more the culprit of a de-emphasizing of intelligent, creative, individual discussion. I feel that although the present causal relationship between apathy and the apparent repression of free individual, personal (as opposed to commerical) free speech appears as you describe, that it is only the result of the reverse process: people in general slowly became apathetic, appointing political mouthpieces for themselves, who then constructed a network of restrictions on the discussion of their constituents, who, out of apathy, appear unconcerned.

A political scholar I'm not; these are perhaps more philosophical arguments than anything... more my speed. :) What do you think?

Anonymous said...

Ryan, having worked on the Nader campaign, I know how angry people can be when you are petitioning.

The supreme court has ruled that as long as you are in a public space and not slowing the flow of traffic, you can petition.

If you are right in front of the door, you risk blocking traffic and are on someones property. If you are out in a parking lot paid for by public dollars, that is fine. Best results are in front of post offices, libraries, or at city/county/state fairs.

Ryan said...

I don't advocate standing in front of doors and interfering with the conduct of commerce, rather it is totally getting booted off-site without having interfered with the conduct of commerce. It is not that petitioners should be able to disrupt the flow of commerce by blockings exits and entrances, not that at all. It is that petitioners should be allowed to circulate on property that is generally used by the public, such as a parking lot, to engage in democratic activism/speech.

I dunno, that's just my POV.

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