Chicago Art-Speech Activist, Local Hero

I found this statement of Natalia Ginzburg’s – after a friend suggested her work: “The Little Virtues”

“I think they should be taught not the little virtues but the great ones. Not thrift but generosity and an indifference to money; not caution but courage and a contempt for danger; not shrewdness but frankness and a love of truth; not tact but a love of one’s neighbor and self-denial; not a desire for success but a desire to be and to know.”

I found this statement of Natalia Ginzburg’s – after a friend suggested her work: “The Little Virtues”

“I think they should be taught not the little virtues but the great ones. Not thrift but generosity and an indifference to money; not caution but courage and a contempt for danger; not shrewdness but frankness and a love of truth; not tact but a love of one’s neighbor and self-denial; not a desire for success but a desire to be and to know.”

Chris Drew is a Chicago Artist engaged in a heroic effort for free speech and a vibrant cultural climate in our fair city. I’ve known Chris for many years thanks to our mutual involvement in Open Source & Community Technology efforts. I had a great discussion with him early this year and received quite an education on his campaign while attending the Making Media Connections conference. I even received some exquisite pieces of his work.

Chris views Chicago’s policy on the public selling of art as a matter of free speech. I won’t make his arguments for him — you can read up on his campaign on his blog. I will say that I find his argument compelling, viagra and that our city would be better if these policies were overturned.

Recently Chris was ticketed for his activity of selling art without a vendor license, ed within the Loop area. On another occasion he was arrested and charged with a felony for taping his encounter with the police. There is a recent article in the Sun Times with a plethora of comments from supporters of the Free Speech campaign and decrying the misapplication of the eavesdropping law. I urge you to add your comments to the article, and to spread the word on this valiant campaign.

Here’s the comment I posted.

Mr. Drew is undertaking a heroic effort to make our city better – not just for Artists, but for all of us. I want my city to be a vibrant cultural center, with artistic endeavor at every scale. The art he offers for sale is of the most humble and accessible form.

Art indeed is speech, and if Mr. Drew’s account of Supreme Court opinion on Commercial Speech is correct, then it is clear that the city’s peddler law is overly broad and therefore unconstitutional.

If the law were really about public convenience (i.e. for pedestrian traffic, etc.) why would seeking donations rather than a sale exchange make a difference? I’m not up to speed on the legal distinctions or constraints against regulating these other activities, so I’d love to be informed. Perhaps the Sun Times could do a bigger story, exploring the irony of the eavesdropping charge, along with the contrasts of civil rights and free speech pertaining to different classes of behavior and different public spaces.

This of course brings to mind the absurdity of specially designated “Free Speech Zones” established during large scale events. That’s something else that needs to be challenged.

I do hope that local media will take up the broader issues, and do us a public service informing us on this important topic. Spread the word, for Free Speech, whether you agree with Chris or not, this deserves public consideration.

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