Tuesday, May 08, 2018

First Amendment Open Carry: The Basics

The Basic Paradox of First Amendment Signposting: Despite the fact that use of public property for the purposes of free speech is absolutely protected by the courts, the facts on the ground seldom bear that out. States, municipalities and Departments of Transportation have all sorts of rules and regulations regarding the posting or display of any material that First Amendment protected speech is entirely immune to, but good luck explaining that to Officer Mc Skeptical. Unless you’re holding or posting American flags or signs that say “Support the Police” you can expect to get hassled if you’re caught doing it. Even though it’s absolutely wrong and a shame it shouldn't be unexpected in a country whose most shining privilege goes so neglected it counts as Suspicious Behavior.

What is Protected Under the First Amendment? Any speech that is entirely non-commercial and is not by nature illegal, i.e: threatens, advocates lawlessness or violence, blackmails etc. For the most part rules regarding slander and/or libel are reserved for non-public figures.

Where and How Can Signs be Posted? Anywhere on public property so long as it’s done safely and securely, but in a way that’s entirely temporary and easily removable without a trace (no locks or adhesives,) and that doesn’t interfere with the function or use of the facilities as intended.

How To Make Signs: These signs are made using whitewashed cardboard - not bedsheets - and lettered using a projector, tracing and painting (As shown here.  Example uses an older overhead projector, newer digital models eliminate need for printing/transparencies.) Using cardboard dramatically improves the overall look and legibility, speed of posting and places to post. Larger boxes can be found at bike shops, furniture and appliance stores and canvases of any size and/or shape can be made using nothing more than white duct tape and a boxcutter. 

Signs Placed on Overpasses or peripheral fencing must be placed on the inside of the fencing with no possibility of blowing into traffic, using bungee cords and duct tape as shown above. This method is both faster and more secure than zipties. Larger signs should be further supported with wire coat hangers duct-taped to the top as shown. 

The ideal overpasses are those with railings next to the fencing, an unobstructed opening on top and no gap below where the sign can fall into traffic. Signs can be placed quickly and safely by simply dropping them in, like toast in a toaster.
 Small Signs can be attached securely to almost anything at all by duct-taping wire coat hangers to the top as shown.

 Anything you can see from the road is a place you can put a sign that will be read - fence, bush, tree or post - the easier it is to see and the harder it is to reach the more often it’ll be read. 
Sign on tree next to Hollywood Fwy. Seen by close to 100,000 people
 a day for nearly a month before coming down.

The challenge of determining the best spots in terms of line-of-sight, geography, available exits, etc. involves a sort of gamesmanship and real-world strategizing that rarely occurs outside the realms of war, law-enforcement or espionage, and when viewed as such is practically its own reward.

Sign placed on hillside next to elevated freeway: 
100 feet away, miles of driving to physically reach.