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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
reggie miles NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle) (162* d) RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers 07 May 10


In your hypothetical question, you suppose a private wedding event on public property is the same thing as a public event on public property. They are not the same but according to the Court's decision; you cannot regulate how far away one might perform to a gathered group of park goers. That doesn't mean that I or any other performer would have the least interest in interrupting your private event. However, NW Folklife being a public event on public property makes the issue an entirely different matter.

Weddings are traditionally private affairs and are traditionally held on private property. However, I have seen more and more wedding parties taking to the streets. I've seen them happily bounding by me with that certain spring in their step, while I'm in the midst of entertaining other passersby. I've always endeavored to pause what I'm doing and grab my hand saw to offer the Wedding March for them. By doing so, I'm just doing my part to wish the happy couples all the very best.

Just as in your hypothetical, NW Folklife supposes the worst of those who are street performers, as though they had no common sense to act appropriately in public. I disagree. So, NW Folklife creates hypothetical situations, "what ifs" with which to base their "guidelines" to restrict our First Amendment rights. NW Folklife is not alone in their disregard for the rule of law in this country or for their disregard of our Constitutional rights. They've carried their "what ifs" far too far afield when they start criminalizing folk musicians and demanding a fee to play folk music on public property.

I've not noticed anywhere in their "guidelines" that such a fee is being demanded of those who are simply panhandling on the event grounds. Of course, the absurdity of that action probably won't escape the "public safety" minded folks at NW Folklife for too much longer and soon we'll see a fee being demanded from those who are simply panhandling on the grounds. Oh, and NW Folklife will probably want their 15% from them too.

There are many that have used the catch phrase, "for public safety" to enact their own versions of inane regulations restricting freedom of expression on public property. Of course, what civic minded individual is going to stand in the way of "public safety"? This is such a common tactic, that it's become a cliché to use, for those wanting to wrestle control of public property from the public.

That's the means used by those private concerns wishing to curtail the freedoms we enjoy in this country, so that they can have their way with public property and minimize the public's use of it. For the "public's safety" they enact rules and regulations which try to side step our rights. Because it's for the "public's safety" they have carte blanche to use police authorities to help them in their actions to minimize individual rights. What they actually desire is control, plain and simple. The "public's safety" is the least thing on their mind. Those who crave power over our freedoms have found an ally in the phrase "for the sake of public safety."

In my experience, I've seen many street fairs do likewise, to placate those who they charge a bundle to vend their wares. I didn't see any NW Folklife security being concerned about the "public's safety" when those paying hundreds of dollars to vend their merchandise under covered walkways obstructed the public by causing all manner of traffic congestion. Isn't it odd how the "public's safety" isn't a concern to NW Folklife at all, once you pay them hundreds or even thousands of dollars, up front, plus 15%, to vend. Oh, but let someone come along and wish to play folk music at this so called folk event and all of a sudden, they are considered a "public safety" nuisance.

Make no mistake about it boys and girls this is most definitely NOT a "public safety" issue. This is big business paying for the right to push their weight around and curtail the public rights. The Court, however, did not see fit to grant such powers to the city of Seattle. Nor did the Court see fit to grant such authority to the private company hired by the city that manages the Seattle Center. Somehow though, NW Folklife envisions it's their right to demonize and criminalize the playing of folk music and those musicians who play it.

To compare John's hypothetical to my situation last year, the head of security directed me to move closer to the greatest amount of noise pollution at the event to offer my musical entertainment, rather than allow me to continue to offer it as far away as possible from the din of drummers gone amuck, amplified electric bands and every other distraction. Okay, are you paying close attention John? Again, I had the common sense to find an area of the grounds where I could offer what I had to offer far away from the other public events happening on the grounds but I was directed by the head of NW Folklife's security to move closer to those other functions. If this isn't plain enough as an example of the difference between individual common sense and corporate insanity, I don't know what is.

Being an acoustic performer and a long time street performer, I was using reasonable care to avoid that overly crowded area of the event simply because it would be near impossible for anyone to enjoy what I was doing in an environment with such distractions competing with my simple acoustic sound. I chose an area with the least amount of distractions for the sake of being able to be heard and enjoyed by the few folks that paused to listen. I had no interest in trying to compete with an amplified stage or a drum circle just as I would have no interest in competing with your wedding nuptials.


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