By Jim Schutze published: Thu., Mar. 15 2012
On June 13, 2010, Dallas police arrested and jailed Robert Groden, author of best-selling books on the Kennedy assassination and a consultant to the Oliver Stone movie, JFK. The police accused Groden of violating a city law against selling books in Dealey Plaza, where the assassination happened almost a half-century ago.
It turned out there was no such law. Police appeared to be acting on a complaint from the city’s semi-official assassination museum, called The Sixth Floor, in the old School Book Depository Building next to Dealey Plaza.
The deeper I delved, the less Groden’s arrest had to do with park regulation — How does selling books hurt anybody, anyway? — and the more it looked like a jack-boot operation to enforce official dogma on the assassination.
Oh, come on, right? How can anybody have “official dogma” about something that happened 50 years ago?
But look at what’s still happening on this front. As I report in my column
in this week’s newspaper, Dallas officials already are moving aggressively — more than a year and a half ahead of the event — to shut down, stifle, control and smother free expression of ideas in Dealey Plaza during the 50th anniversary of the assassination on the week of Nov. 22, 2013.
So what’s their beef? It appears to have to do with any suggestion by assassination theorists that the JFK killing case has not already been closed. Slammed shut, in fact. The overwhelming message of The Sixth Floor Museum exhibit is, “Case closed, show’s over, return to your homes.” And somebody doesn’t want anyone getting off message when the news crews are here.
When I talked to Groden and some others in the assassination community last week, they told me they’re ready to put their bodies on the line if they have to in 2013. Some of their ideas were quite creative — like crawling up through the storm sewers and popping up out of manhole covers during the city’s official observances.
Funny, right? Yeah. But the larger issues are not funny. This is about free speech and the use of police power to strangle it, right here in our own city.
|Robert Groden, being bad by exercising free speech at Dealey Plaza.|
The director of The Sixth Floor Museum told me the reason why events have to be tamped down on the 50th is that the whole world will be watching. I see it differently. If the whole world is watching, that’s exactly when we need to get down to Dealey Plaza and demonstrate that not everybody in Dallas thinks like a jack-boot.
If you have an idea or suggestion, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. This may seem funny. You’re welcome to be funny. I could use a laugh. But this also is serious as a heart attack. In fact, it’s a presidential assassination.