Free speech loses to green grass

The National Council for Arab Americans and the Answer Coalition just wanted to have a simple protest in Central Park during the days before the Republican National Convention.

But on Monday, a federal judge refused to force New York City to let the protesters take up their picket signs.

The official reason for rejecting the protestors is the city’s desire to preserve the Great Lawn, which was restored in the late 1990s, costing the city millions.

New York strictly limits large-scale events on the lawn and city officials say the thousands of protesters could very well ruin the work that has been done on the lawn.

The city could be making a big mistake. The group only wants to call attention to civil rights violations against Muslims and Arab-Americans.

But New York cares more about citizens adhering to a “Keep off the grass” sign.

In a time when prejudice against Arab-Americans and Muslims forces some to leave the country and others to fear stepping on a plane and being called a terrorist, New York City could look like the biggest bigot of them all.

But maybe it has nothing to do with who the organization represents. In a larger sense, the city has denied the group a basic right: the right to peaceably assemble.

After the ruling, city officials told The New York Times that they would think about alternate possibilities. One possibility is even another section of Central Park.

“Despite the late date, we remain willing to discuss with them whether there is a way to provide for an alternate park location where their demonstration could be held,” the parks commissioner, Adrian Benepe, said in a statement to The Times.

The group is saying the spot is important to them because thousands are already coming.

The easy solution, creating a specific space for protesters to gather, would have saved them some court costs and the time to go in front of a judge The Democratic National Convention did this, and it eased security concerns and problems like this one.

The groups are right in thinking they should have a spot for their protest.

However, the city is right in thinking they need to take care of the grass that cost taxpayers millions.

But this is an issue that should have been resolved months ago, in planning for the convention. The Republican Party should have known, as with any political organization, that there would be those there to speak against their ideals, or events in this country in general.

Planning is the key to any successful party.