Conventions, protests: One spawns another

It seems to be a law of modern American politics that if there are conventions, there must be protesters.

True to that law, the protesters arrived in Denver along with the Democrats.

It is also part of that tradition that there is a designated "protest zone,” as isolated as the authorities can get away with. In this case, it is a barren, shadeless parking lot within sight, but not earshot, of the convention hall. Inevitably, the protesters ignore their designated zone and in Denver the parking lot sits empty.

The two sides dress for their respective parts. The police in helmets and black full-body armor. The protesters, most of them, dress in a sort of retro-’60s look.

And indeed one group calls itself "Recreate ’68,” although few people who were around for that turbulent year think that’s such a good idea.

The causes vary — immigration, free trade, abortion and one lonely individual for Jesus.

The Code Pink anti-war women are in Denver. Their modus is to infiltrate hearings and meetings and then stand up and start shouting. They did this to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and as always, were quickly hustled out of the room. They seem undeterred by their lack of success with these tactics.

No protest would be complete without street theater and three protesters dramatically pretended to waterboard a fourth in front of the Federal Courthouse.

The most active protesters are the anarchists, who slogan "Disrupt the DNC” pretty well explains their program. They set off down a main business street to disrupt the post-convention parties on the grounds that the parties are "capitalist fund-raising orgies.”

The generally sedate delegates might be secretly flattered that they could be accused of participating in an orgy of any kind.

The possibility that the anarchists manage to get pepper-sprayed and arrested in great numbers, one suspects, is the whole point.

This may not be what the Founding Fathers envisioned as free speech. But free speech it is and our politics are the livelier for it.