Should a preacher be allowed to preach in a public park?
Can he use a loudspeaker? Without any kind of permit? How loud can he be? Can he curse all the people in the park to Hell? Can he play obnoxious music and sing a really bad version of "We Are the World"?
How would you like it, if in the public park by your house, this guy came every Saturday of the year and broadcast his message so loud so as not only to make the park unusable, but to wake your kids at bedtime?
That is the situation in Washington Park. Nothing deters this preacher. His response to complaints is that the park is his church, and the people in the park are his congregation.
I understand that during special events, the park may be filled with loud music and that this can be disruptive to those who live nearby. I can even understand that a festival for example can be held in the park, and that during that event, the park is not fully usable by the public. In my view it is the combination of the loudness and the ubiquitousness of his use, that makes him rude.
Should a wedding party be allowed to rent a pavilion in a public park?
Of course. Many pavilions in neighborhood parks are specifically built for such use. A few years ago we attended a wedding at the pavilion in Ault Park, and it is used for such events throughout the summer. Of course the public is not invited to such events.
This was an event for the organizers of the Flying Pig marathon. The general public was kept out of the tent. But, this is Fountain Square, not a neighborhood park. It should not be rented out like a pavilion at a neighborhood park.
However, this was for an event that is obviously beneficial for the city. I don't think a private business can fill the square with a tent (or can they)? This has become a contentious issue in NYC's Bryant Park.
In my opinion, private parties should be held in an adjacent hotel ballroom. Either that, or make it a public celebration in which everyone is invited.
I don't want to get into discussion about the First Amendment and Free Speech and Assembly, I just think that the key point of a public square, is that it is open to the public! People who use this public square must stay civil (relatively quiet) and events must be open to the general public. Tenting, or fencing-off areas for ticket-holders only, or holding events that are very loud, should be rare and should be minimally intrusive to the other users of the space.
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