preceptions of reality

25 May 1993 19:54:20

There are many different preceptions of reality. In service to
understanding, Legaliaison/DC contrasts its preception of the new
regulation with the preception of the Eugene, Oregon
Register-Guard, May 8, 1993 (in quotes).

The U.S. Forest Service has proposed new rules requiring
equal treatment for large groups of people seeking permits to
gather in national forests."

To say this rule requires equal treatment is a classic example of
Orwellian newspeak (i.e., "War is Peace"). As things have stood
from time immemorial, people have had an "inalienable right" to
peaceably assemble. An "inalienable right" is inherent, that
means it cannot be taken away, or, as the First Amendment
guarantees, it cannot be "abridged." By contrast a "privilege,"
like, for example, driving a motor vehicle, requires a
"authorization" (a "permit." Unlike a "right," government may
legally abridge privileges. Because people always had the equal
right to peaceably assemble on public lands, there is absolutely
no need for any "new rules requiring equal treatment."

"The new rules change the definition of a "group
event" to avoid discrimination against groups such as the
Rainbow Family, as well as fringe political or religious

More doubletalk. The extent to which "group event" has been
redefined merely gives the government the power - previously
prohibited under the First Amendment - to discriminate against
any "group event" which the government might choose to
discriminate against. In real terms, this regulation would only
"prevent discrimination" to whatever extent the government may
decide not to discriminate.

"The rules also govern distribution of leaflets and other
printed material."

Right, but why?

"The Rainbow Family, a loosely knit group formed in 1972,
holds annual gatherings of thousands of people on national forest
land to celebrate nature and communal living.
"The group held a 1978 gathering in the Umpqua National
Forest that drew 15,000 members, and 1,000 to 2,000 members met
for a regional nine-day gathering in June 1991 at an Umpqua
forest site about 60 miles east of Roseburg."

The Rainbow Family also gathers to pray for peace on earth and to
communicate. Before this proposed regulation, all of that -
Freedom of Thought, Expression, and Assembly, was considered
"constitutionally protected behavior." If this proposed
regulation becomes law, that "protected behavior" will become "a
crime," punishable by six months in prison and $500.00 fine.

"The 1991 meeting was opposed by groups and individuals who
complained that the site, in proposed spotted owl habitat, was
too sensitive to support such a large gathering.
"But Forest Service officials allowed the event to be held,
noting that the much larger 1978 gathering hadn't damaged the

The First Amendment does not protect someone who "falsely yells
'fire' in a crowded theater," so the Forest Service could
prohibit gatherings if they posed some real danger. Under new
proposal the Forest Service could prohibit gatherings if an
official simply feels the proposed activity will not meet "seven
criteria." These "seven criteria" also happen to be the same
things that officials are always "concerned" about - but which
never actually happen. This regulation will elevate such
groundless "concerns" to a "sufficient cause" for a prohibition.

"Forest Service rules for granting permits had discriminated
between "recreational" events such as Boy Scout gatherings and
"special events," such as demonstrations, parades 'or any
activity involving the expression of views'."

More bulldinky. Because "Recreational" events, such as
snowmobiling, and dirt biking, might well tear up the public
lands, they would be legitimate targets of regulations aimed at
protecting resources. On the other hand, "activity involving the
expression of views," which does not harm resources, should be
exempt from regulation as an "inalienable right."

"A federal court in Texas, ruling for the Rainbow Family,
in 1988 struck down those rules and the manner in which they were

The Texas court held that the government violated the
Administrative Procedure Act in implementing the regulations, and
expressed a strong opinion that the regulations were
unconstitutional. Now the government is trying again. If they
find a judge who believes that the First Amendment is an
anachronism which was practically superceded by television, they
will succeed.
"The new rules would require permits for all "noncommercial"
groups of 25 or more, require officials to say in writing why
they denied a permit, and provide for quick appeals."

This can only be "good," if you believe the government is
"reasonable." Because the government claims that denying a
permit may entail lengthy investigation, the only official
requirement is that an application be denied "without
unreasonable delay."

"Forest officials could still require that the activities
not interfere with other activities and not endanger health,
safety or the environment."

Just trust government agents ** who believe, for example, that it
is reasonable to restrict the "dissemination of literature"
because of potential "damage to resources" ** to be reasonable in
determining what endangers health, safety or environment.
LEGALIAISON, P.O. Box 27217, Washington, D.C. 20038
(202) 265-5389 - Collect calls from jail ONLY!!

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