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Surprise Twist: Occupy Richmond Comes to Defense of Tea Party

John on December 2, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Well, this is a bit of a surprise twist:

“Occupy Richmond believes in absolute free speech, including the right to criticize the government without fear of retribution,” Occupy Richmond said in a statement posted Thursday on its website. “Given the duplicitous and violent manner in which the city government chose to raid our peaceful occupation, it would not surprise us if the recently announced city audit of the Richmond Tea Party were retaliation for their criticism of the mayor.”…

Not only do we call on the city to drop the audit, but we also demand the immediate refund of any money paid specifically to secure the Tea Party’s free speech and assembly privileges,” the Occupiers said.

Richmond Tea Party spokeswoman Colleen Owens told her group is “happy” to have the support of the Occupiers, while disagreeing that taxpayers should have to foot the bill for free speech.

“But this has never been about the money. It was about the principal,” Owens said. “A public official should not be able to pick and choose which groups are charged.”

Colleen Owens is right. No right is absolute. It is reasonable for cities to charge some modest fees to cover the costs of public events and to regulate those events through permits. It is not right for cities like Richmond to enforce the rules for one group and ignore them for another. The Occupiers should pay their own way. But then, that would cut against their entire ethos, wouldn’t it.

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