One Solvang City Council member is very concerned that her city could attract the next protest where people glue their hands to the streets. Not only is she concerned about that, she’s also worried about the damage that glue could do to the city. 

Councilmember Elizabeth Orona was so perturbed about the possibility that she grilled the assistant city attorney about the issue and ways to essentially get around the First Amendment

She wants people who protest in Solvang to get a permit prior to doing so and ensure that they take out insurance! 

“There was a parade over the the holiday weekend where people glued themselves to the streets, and that could cause damage,” Orona said, referring to pro-Palestinian protesters at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City—which was broadcast into homes around the U.S. 

First of all, I’m not sure anything happening in Solvang carries quite the same cachet as a nationally broadcast parade happening in New York City. Secondly, glue probably does more damage to skin than it does streets. 

What about the fluids that leak out of cars, hot rubber tire burns, and the horse shit that drops onto the streets of Solvang on a regular basis? Or the gum, candy wrappers, etc., that people drop? Should Solvang require permits of everyone who dares to drive or walk in the city? The potential for damage is lurking under every foot and tire around! 

Assistant City Attorney Chelsea O’Sullivan told Orona that if the city required insurance for a protest, it would violate the First Amendment by creating a barrier to expressive activity. 

Orona thought that the city could require a permit, but without a fee for a large protest—you know, because it’s not a barrier to expression, per se. You know, except for how long it takes to get a permit. The current Israel-Palestinian issues could be old news by then!

“If there’s some event or a big thing happens that people want to react to, some unrest or something like that, and they want to have a demonstration … you can’t make them wait 90 days to have their event,” O’Sullivan said. 

Duh! Time is a barrier. 

Also, can you imagine if protests required city permits? Their “rubber stamp” approvals would almost certainly be appealed by people who disagree with the ideology behind whatever the protest happens to be, which would delay, delay, delay. What if the City Council and politics got involved?

I’ve got PTSD from listening to all the righty-tighties who believed they shouldn’t have to look at Pride flags in their towns or see a Pride parade on their streets. The unmitigated gall of some people: They complain about liberal snowflakes, but they’re the ones all up in arms about being exposed to something that makes them uncomfortable. The situation was dripping with irony, and I still can’t believe the conversation that overtook Solvang and the Santa Ynez Valley over the spring and summer months.

Every protest permit would be like that all over again. 

And the whole point of the First Amendment, Orona, is freedom of expression, whether you or I agree with it or not. 

Sounds like someone needs a refresher. Maybe the whole valley needs a refresher on exactly what that amendment means.

Solvang makes the Canary break out in hives. Send ointment to [email protected].

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