Shutdown Theater fallout: Trey Gowdy vs. the National Park Service

With a hat tip to The Blaze, here’s a video that’s both highly relevant to the current debate over our hostile, inept government, and just too much fun not to share.  The House of Representatives has been holding hearings into all those outrageous monument barricades during the shutdown.  Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) got a chance to grill National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis, and he didn’t let the opportunity go to waste, pointing out the rather stunning difference between the federal government’s long indulgence of the left-wing Occupy Wall Street movement, versus the nearly instantaneous quarantine of open-air attractions when it was time to make the public feel some shutdown pain.

The best moment came when Jarvis insisted that veterans could have gained access to their war memorials by declaring their intention to exercise First Amendment rights.  “Who were they to declare it to?  A barricade?”  Gowdy shot back.

The Barrycade fiasco is another artifact of the shutdown that Republicans should never stop parading in front of voters.  Remind them this stuff happened.  Check their comfort level with a government so quick to punish them for political dissent – a government that springs into action with blinding speed to protect its interests, but drags us through endless paperwork and bureaucratic folly when it’s time to fulfill its duties.

There was never anything about Shutdown Theater that made a lick of sense.  It should stand as an enduring monument to the Orwellian absurdity of a system that views its constituents with a disturbing level of hostility.  Nobody involved in this fiasco, from President Obama on down, gave a moment’s thought to making the shutdown easier on the American people in any way.  Quite the contrary – it was crucial to their interests to make it more painful than necessary, not just to obtain political leverage against Republicans, but because they feared nothing more than the public growing comfortable with a 17 percent shutdown.  What might have happened if the debt ceiling had not been added to the mix, forcing a quick and dramatic resolution?

Also, this nonsense about “First Amendment” exceptions is another example of Washington’s growing hostility toward the people.  Those monuments are not the property of the ruling class, to be disposed of during royal tantrums against unruly peasants.  We the People own them.  It’s one thing to temporarily shutter an attraction that requires considerable manpower to operate; it’s quite another to deploy considerable manpower to keep people away from statues and walls.

And the First Amendment isn’t a license granted to us at the pleasure of the State.  It doesn’t grow weaker in government-designated No First Amendment zones.  The spectacle of the NPS director suggesting elderly war veterans should shout “I want to exercise my First Amendment rights, dang it!” at a metal barricade until it magically opens is both grimly amusing and deeply offensive.  It wouldn’t be less offensive if a Park Service attendant was standing by, ready to open the barricades to anyone who says the magic First Amendment words.