Confiscating the Constitution
If nothing else, this illustrates how the celebration of an event can become more about the tradition of celebrating than about the event itself:
In a temper-filled tempest, the Bristol Fourth of July Committee has barred the Rhode Island Tea Party from taking part in the annual Independence Day parade next year — or any other year.
Marina Peterson, treasurer of the organization — it opposes government spending and new taxes — said she was told “not to waste the stamp to send in an application” to appear again in the Bristol parade, which the town says dates to 1785 as the oldest continuously observed Fourth of July celebration in the nation.
In the latest march, on Saturday, Tea Party sympathizers handed out copies of the U.S. Constitution as they ran alongside the organization’s first-ever float, a replica of the Beaver, the British ship ransacked by Colonists during the Boston Tea Party, in 1773.
Sounds to me — especially with the RI Tea Party’s account in mind — like a local somebody wanted an excuse to exert petty power over a disfavored group — disfavored by those in the staid, corrupt establishment — and took the handouts as an excuse. A more reasonable, civilized approach to dealing with a new participant’s inadvertent rule breaking would be a sort of probation at next year’s parade. Otherwise one ends up with shocking symbolism like this:
“They endangered public safety,” he said. [Float Committee Chairmain Jim] Tavares said he personally confiscated some of the handouts.
Confiscating the Constitution… at the nation’s oldest Independence Day parade. Tea Party Treasurer Marina Peterson says that the rules prohibit “solicitation,” which does not describe complimentary copies of our founding legal document. Mr. Tavares calls that word games. I expect King George would have agreed; the rules listed online state that “Soliciting along the parade route is illegal unless a license has been obtained from the Fourth of July Committee.” Apparently, safety concerns are alleviated through payment of a license tax.
Incidentally, the Bristol Fourth of July Committee’s Web site has a wealth of information, such as the general chairman’s and parade chairwoman’s email addresses.
The conversation continues here and here.