August 31, 2002
By Doug Pibel
Suddenly, "First Amendment Zone" is part of the standard
lexicon. These pop up wherever Our Leader goes, and are mentioned
in press reports as if they have always been part of the landscape.
I admit I did not pay as much attention as I might have when
I took Constitutional Law. But I'm pretty sure I would have
picked up on the concept of amendment zoning.
I also took a class on Zoning and Land Use, so I think I
have a pretty solid notion of what zoning is supposed to be
about. My understanding is aided by the fact that the basic
concept is not very complicated. Generally, we like to have
similar uses of land bunched together. So we create a residential
zone where people live, and an industrial zone where people
build factories. We like to have things where they are most
suitable and appropriate.
Which confuses me about First Amendment Zones, since they
always seem to be located at some distance from Our Leader;
if at all possible, out of sight and earshot. Since the First
Amendment was intended to facilitate communication, I'm a
little baffled about how these zones work. You'd think if
you were going to zone for usefulness, you'd make sure those
First Amendment Zones were located where the people using
them could communicate. I mean, I understand that, within
these zones, they can communicate all they like with one another.
But I really think they have more in mind communicating with
Our Leader. I must be missing something here.
I also had this vague thought that the Constitution, being
the supreme law of the land, pretty much operated far and
wide. But I guess not. As it turns out, at least when Our
Leader is in town, the First Amendment operates hardly at
all. According to reports out of Stockton, CA, while Our Leader
was there the First Amendment operated in an area about 20x100
feet. At least that was where the First Amendment operated
if you thought you might like to disagree with Our Leader.
If you wanted to wave a big foam pointy finger emblazoned
with "We're #1" you could do that anywhere. But maybe that
was not speech, or not free, or otherwise had nothing to do
with the First Amendment.
I'm a bit concerned, too, about what happens when the First
Amendment is bottled up in a 20x100 area in Stockton. Is that
it? I mean, can everybody else continue to operate as if the
First Amendment applies, or do you have to be in a cage in
Stockton? How do we even know? It seems to me that, at least,
we should get radio and TV announcements. "The First Amendment
currently applies in Stockton, CA! If you have anything to
critical to say about Our Leader, please proceed to Stockton,
CA. Thank you. That is all."
What about the rest of the Constitution? Is it zoned, too?
I guess, come to think about it, there's some evidence that,
in November, 2000, the State of Florida had some Fifteenth
and Twenty-sixth Amendment Zones, although they didn't publicize
that fact too well. It seems that the whole country is still
a Sixth Amendment Zone, except for a couple of Navy brigs
holding "enemy combatants."
This could get really interesting, zoning the Constitution.
Before long, we may see a courtroom scene where the prosecution
calls as its next witness the defendant. Whereupon, counsel
for the accused will say, "Your honor, my client asserts his
Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination."
And the judge will say, "Counsel, this courtroom is not a
Fifth Amendment Zone. Those are all in the hearing rooms in
I'm pretty sure I can't hold my breath long enough to wait
with bated breath for the appearance of Second Amendment Zones.