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Amendment Zoning
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 Congress."

I'm pretty sure I can't hold my breath long enough to wait with bated breath for the appearance of Second Amendment Zones.

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