...now Berkeley, California, has to prove that they're just as asinine as Brattleboro, Vermont, is.
By a vote of 6-3, the Berkeley City Council voted Tuesday to tell a U. S. Marines recruiting station in the city that it "is not welcome in the city, and if recruiters choose to stay, they do so as uninvited and unwelcome intruders." Along with that, the Council voted to determine whether its law against sexual orientation discrimination could be applied to the Marines because of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
Oh, and it gave the green light to anti-war group Code Pink to protest in front of the recruiting station as a means of disrupting the Marines' jobs. In fact, the Council gave Code Pink a parking space in front of the recruiting station once a week for six months and a free sound permit for protesting from noon to 4 PM once a week.
Okay, where do we begin on this one? There are so many problems with the City Council's decisions that it's hard to pick a starting point. So, let's start with their proclamation that the Marines aren't welcome in Berkeley.
The big question that has to be asked here is what harm is being done by the Marines recruiting station. Does the mere presence of such a station created a hostile environment or promote illegal activity? Contrary to what the Berkeley City Council and the Code Pink crowd believes, it doesn't. Being against the current war effort is not a grounds for preventing Marines from recruiting people to serve on the basis of public nuisance.
However, it can be argued that Code Pink's activity does create a hostile environment by inviting the harassment of the Marines and other people in the neighborhood. The story from the Contra Costa Times website has a quote from a business owner who said the Code Pink protestors were are "aggressive, take up parking spaces, block the sidewalk with their yoga moves, smoke in the doorways, and are noisy." Hmmm...sounds like Code Pink is violating more than a few laws there and is much closer to a public nuisance than the Marines are. Sounds to me like the public in the area disagrees that the Marines are the unwelcome ones.
Next, we have the "don't ask, don't tell" policy being seen as discriminatory. Well, I hate to break this to you, Berkeley City Council, but the Marines didn't come up with that policy. That was initiated by the federal government by one William Jefferson Clinton. The Marines, in this case, are following a lawful order issued by the Commander In Chief, i.e. the President. The Berkeley City Council can urge that this lawful order be changed, but it cannot bring a legal remedy against the Marines for a violation of civil law. And considering the Council is focused only on the Marines and not the entire U. S. military (who must also follow "don't ask, don't tell"), the Council's focusing on the Marines could be considered an attempt to intimidate or harass, which could be against the law, but it certainly hypocritical of the left in Berkeley.
Then, there's the Council granting Code Pink a parking space and a free sound permit. Considering no other group might be allowed those same accomodations, that is certainly a violation of the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection under the law. Would the Berkeley City Council be so nice as to allow a pro life group to set up shop in front of an abortion clinic and give them a free parking spot and a free sound permit? I doubt it. But it should be pointed out that pro life groups have been targeted for restraining orders requiring them to be well away from abortion clinics, and the American left has seen nothing wrong with it. A double standard, mayhaps? Most definitely, and an unconstitutional double standard at that.
In short, the Berkeley City Council overstepped its bounds, ignored the laws on the books, and violated the Constitution's equal protection clause. And all because a majority of the City Council is against the current war effort. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a clear abuse of power. I hope the Marines stay put and turn the legal dogs against the Berkeley City Council, or at the very least that enough citizens are outraged at this that there would be a massive wave of anti-incumbancy fore each and every member of the Council who voted in favor of this travesty. Failing that, perhaps there would be another mechanism to address this situation, like if the city's laws allow for the impeachment of City Council members.
Either way, I'm reminded of a line from a Stealer's Wheel song.
Clowns to the left of me
Jokers to the right
Here I am
Stuck in the middle with you
Given the clowns in Berkeley and the jokers in Brattleboro, VT, I'm glad I'm stuck in the middle of the country.