Apparently Thomas Jefferson was not a fan of dancing.
Or, at least the U.S. Park Police don’t think that he was, and they’re going to see to it that no one dances around his memorial in Washington, D.C.
The ABA Journal reports in this month’s magazine that dancing was exactly how a group of libertarians wanted to celebrate Jefferson’s April 13th birthday this year. The group of approximately 20 people gathered at the memorial, many of them with iPods or iPhones, to dance in celebration of the Founding Father’s special day. The celebration was silent, those who needed music to dance were all wearing headphones.
In the video of the gathering seen here, it’s clear that the group is being quiet, and there is no apparent disruption. But the U.S. Park Police asked all the would-be birthday party attendees to leave anyway.
Now, Oberwetter is suing the arresting officer and Ken Salazar, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior, which oversees the U.S. Park Police. She claims they violated her civil rights, including her First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, as well as her right to freedom from unreasonable seizure. Oberwetter said, “It was not the worst police abuse ever, but I feel strongly that the Park Police should be held accountable for abusing their authority.”
Of course, the Park Police insist that they were doing their job, and they might have been. Federal regulations limit conduct at certain memorials. The aim is “to preserve a spirit of tranquility and reverence.” The question becomes one of whether or not dancing is reverent. I like to think it is. I’ll keep an eye on this case and let my trusty readers know how it’s decided, and whether or not they can dance down to the courthouse to celebrate.
In general, I hope dancing becomes a more accepted way to celebrate everything, everywhere, because as Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.”