From coast to coast, Americans are being told they need special permits to pursue their First Amendment freedoms in tax-funded parks.
First it was California where a photographer was told he needed a permit to photograph his family.
Now it’s New Hampshire – the state that prides itself on its Live Free or Die motto – where a videographer was told he needed a permit to film a Youtube clip.
Jonathan C. Doyle, who was attempting to film a performance art video that included himself dressed in a Bigfoot costume atop of Mount Monadnock, was told he needed a permit for “organized or special events which go beyond routine recreational activities.”
But he is claiming the New Hampshire law is vague and a violation of First Amendment rights. And the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Foundation is backing him up on his claim.
In a Dec. 14 letter to George Bald, commissioner of New Hampshire’s Department of Resources and Economic Development (which includes the Parks Department), Foundation Staff Attorney Barbara R. Keshen says the special permit rule is vague, giving “unchecked discretion” to the park director.
“The Permit requirement is unconstitutionally broad on its face and as applied to Mr. Doyle and his production team,” the letter said.
Doyle said he hasn’t received any reply from the parks department.
Amy Bassett, a spokeswoman for the N.H. Division of Parks and Recreation, said the letter had been forwarded to the state Attorney General’s office.
“At the time we were following our administrative rules,” she said.
“At this point (we’re) just waiting to hear back from the AG’s office.”
Doyle said he and his friends were filming the video on a trail away from the general crowds, so they were not interfering with anybody else’s right to use the park.