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Benjamin Singer

Why evicting Occupy Wall Street makes sense

On Tuesday, October 15, the Occupy Wall Street campout at Zuccotti Park was brought to an end. Hopefully, we will see a similar peaceful resolution in Toronto, once the courts rule on the legality of evicting the St. James Park protestors. However, should they? Do the protestors have a right to an indefinite stay at St. James (or any of the occupied parks, for that matter), or should the police toss them to the curb?Conservatives ought to have mixed feeling about the Occupy protestors. No small-government advocate should be satisfied with the billion dollar bailouts or the cozy relationship between big businesses and the politicians (mainly Democrats) who depend on their donations. Ostensibly, this is what #OWS is all about. The invocation of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, two rights cherished by most conservatives, should also arouse some sympathy for the movement.That being said, there is absolutely no justification for the continued occupation of our public spaces. As righteous as the cause of separating business and government is, these occupations need to be justified as acts in and of themselves, independent of the cause. When dealing with public space regulated by a government, to pick and choose groups which may bend or break the rules is unacceptable – it is to submit that individuals’ rights to accessing public goods is dependent on the beliefs they hold.Without a special exemption for ideology, the only defense left to protestors hoping to remain is the invocation of rights – specifically freedom of speech and of assembly. While it is tempting, and even attractive, to defend the occupations on these grounds, the argument falls flat.Free speech and assembly are easily the most important rights in ensuring a vibrant democratic society. However, there is no guarantee that these rights will be subsidized by… Read More