By Jerry Waxman
The moon belongs to everyone. The best things in life are free.
The stars belong to everyone. They gleam there for you and me
Freedom means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Webster’s Dictionary has numerous descriptions of the word being used in different contexts. Progressives just assume that the entire Bill of Rights is under attack by conservative politicians and judges including their freedom of choice. Conservatives use the word as a Pavlovan prompt in order to whip up the crowd. They say that their freedoms have already been taken away with the passage of Obamacare and other similar legislation as well as government restrictions on businesses and that a conservative government must overturn all restrictions on their freedom including the freedom to hate.
Nowhere was this more evident than in Downtown Orlando over Saturday and Sunday, January 22nd and 23rd. With the Republican Primary election only a week away a group calling itself Conservatives United 2012 planned a large rally at the Walt Disney Amphitheater in Lake Eola Park with spectacular speakers like Samuel Wurzelbacher aka known as Joe the Plumber, former Congressman and State Attorney General Bill McCollum who spoke as if he needed a heavy dose of Ritalin and keynote speaker Herman Cain who proved why Vaudeville is dead and not coming back. The attendance figures were disappointing to say the least. Under 400 people were in the space but take out the security teams the candidate staffs the event staffs, vendors and sponsors booths and the event was lucky to attract 200 people including the bused in people from West Palm Beach and out of that there were at least 20 people from Occupy Orlando on the premises taking it all in. The only non-white faces we saw were, obviously, Herman Cain, a few occupiers and some picnickers walking through. A couple of local candidates were collecting signatures. Rick Santorum had a local team on the ground but the feel of the event was definitely directed towards Newt Gingrich. It was his collective memory challenged crowd that was there cheering on every utterance of McCollum’s almost incoherent rant.
My wife and granddaughter went to the playground on the other end of the park while I tried to make sense of the event. We did have a short conversation with media creation Joe the Plumber who intimated to David “Duckie” Wasman that both these conservatives and the occupiers are not that far apart on most issues, something he would not ever say in public. Local Tea Party type Matt Falconer was urging people to vote against the proposed ballot initiative on Jan 31 that would allow corporations to avoid paying property taxes for 10 years if they merely promised to create jobs. Actually, Falconer made good sense this day and apparently a lot of the attendees were in agreement with him. Only registered Republicans and people signed up for absentee ballots were officially notified that this was a general ballot item. In all though, it seemed like a scene out of 1984 with a collective hate for “Big Brother” (code for Barak Obama).
This get together being a thinly veiled push for Newt Gingrich I was reminded that I received via Facebook friend that classic picture of Newt’s wife Calista, she of the molded plastic face and perfectly arced hair with that totally scary faraway look in her eyes plus the photoshopped image of Newt as Chucky. This modern day Medusa looks like her own victim. I guess the snakes were edited out. A thought came to mind; If the mythological Helen of Troy was the face that launched a thousand ships, then Calista of Newt is the face that could sink them.
The flowers in spring, the robins that sing,
the sunbeams that shine, they’re yours, they’re mine
A day later was Occupy Orlando’s 99th day of existence and it was to be celebrated by re-occupying Senator Beth Johnson Park for the day. The appropriate teams for food, media, et al were in place at the park well in advance of the march and not a policeman in sight. All park rules were strictly obeyed. The march started at City Hall and ended at the park around 12:00 PM. No formal agenda for the day, just a day to hang out and relax, eat, drink (no alcohol) welcome newcomers and get together with old friends. There were some teach-ins about the state legislature and community building. Several bands provided music and everybody had a good time. This kind of freedom is worth fighting for.
Tim Osmar is a free man today, having spent several weeks in jail on a charge that the State Attorney’s office refused to prosecute-writing on the sidewalk with chalk. The city had selectively used this prosecution after having allowed merchants to do it in violation of city ordinances two years ago. Known only as Nome, this young man was arrested for jaywalking in front of the park before the move to City Hall. Both Nome and Tim have retained an attorney who is filing charges in Federal Court for violating their civil rights. Any fines or awards won have been promised to Occupy Orlando.
The next big test of freedom will be William Ezell’s trespassing trial. Ezell and others were arrested and charged with a state statute rather than a city statute. Maximum sentence on a city misdemeanor is 60 days plus a fine. The state laws can be up to a year. The State Attorney’s office refused to prosecute, however this time the city is not backing down. The trial is set for Tuesday, Jan 24. His attorney, Shayan Elahi, feels confident that Ezell will walk out a free man. Elahi is no stranger to controversial cases and he has a good track record of wins. The occupiers are making preparations to occupy the courtroom when Ezell comes to trial.
In the end, whether we agree or disagree with either of the two groups, it takes an awful lot of vigilance to insure your ability to be free to be who you are. It is something to think about. Feel free to do so.
And love can come to everyone; the best things in life are free
The Best Things in Life Are Free© Henderson, DeSylva, Brown