Thursday, September 20, 2012

Blog Guelph: Democracy Is Not A Nuisance

Satisfied Fans by peterkelly
Satisfied Fans, a photo by peterkelly on Flickr.

Many of you may have seen the articles in the Guelph Tribune and the Guelph Mercury about the nuisance bylaw City staff are proposing. You can actually read the draft yourself here 
(it’s buried at the bottom of many reports).

I read through it and wanted to share the pieces I feel are the most important and should be actionable by the public. First, I was struck by their proposed definition of a Nuisance Party which includes 
“disorderly conduct”and “loud music."

 “...No person shall sponsor, conduct, continue, host, create, attend, allow, cause or permit a Nuisance Party.”


This is where we get into some tricky territory. So no person shall sponsors, conduct, continue, host, create, attend, cause or permit “loud music” or “disorderly conduct”?

Disorderly conduct.  I can name many instances when protests changed this world. How about the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa? The Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia which lead to the Communist party relinquishing control of the country? The March on Washington when the fight for African-American civil rights saw 300,000 stand up and share their voice before Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his speech? How about the Stonewall Riots, one of the most significant movements for gay rights, which saw the openly gay patrons of the Stonewall Inn fight back against the anti-homosexual police raids that took place in New York City?

And talking about protest and loud music, what about Woodstock?

According to Guelph, these historic moments should never have taken place because they should have been considered “Nuisance Parties.”

I understand the need to protect our community but it should never be at the expense of democratic rights and public voice. The lines of interpretation here are too broad.

As we prepare for Culture Days next week, I’m thinking about the amazing projects set to take place in Guelph. I’m thinking about my own project, the LOVE-IN, which is a peaceful advocacy of arts and culture. In the 60s Love-Ins and Sit-Ins were protest movements. And in a way, I am protesting - advocating the fact that Canada’s culture should reflect its Charter. Our Rights and Freedoms are clearly written. We have the right to peaceful assembly. We have the right to freedom of speech. We have the right to express our ideas – through music, art, through gathering together and through sharing broadly.

Sometimes the order that exists needs to be disordered, questioned. Humanity’s quest for love and freedom demands this.

And yes, there is a safety issue here. And it's not about protecting the City, it's about protecting the community from those who would introduce the possibility of censorship as legislation.

Democracy is not a nuisance.

~ Aidan M.D. Ware



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's smoke and mirrors; the city want to look like it's doing somthing, so it enacts laws it will never enforce. I don't know what idiot decided to lump parties and protests together; A muppet, perhaps?

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Downtown Guelph, University of Guelph, The Guelph Hillside Festival or The Guelph Lake Conservation Area.

On the other hand, you may be curious about what the City of Guelph looked like last October or maybe Spring.

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