Say what you like, the right to free speech not only protects speech, it also prohibits the more excessive and arbitrary lawmaking currently being witnessed in Sydney, Australia, prior to the World Youth Day.  For those of you who are not up to speed on World Youth Day, it is an event where the World’s Catholic Youth assemble in one city and is scheduled to take place in Sydney later this month.

In order to ensure that the event, attended by the Pope (who apparently has a Pope Boat for the Harbour to complement the Popemobile), goes off without incident, any criticism or protest within 680 listed areas is prohibited.  Members of the Fire Brigade and the SES (an unarmed crisis response force who deal with everything from forest fires to cliff rescues to anti-Catholic protesters) have been empowered to search on demand, in support of the police.

Whilst I see the need for robust policing of such an event, and support it, one can only suspect that this is another abuse of power by the State as a substitute for effectively policing the rights of all, rather than just one religious group, no matter how powerful or influential they might be.