Tuesday, July 1, 2008

4. Speaker's Corner on a Sunday

As journalists, you should all want to see free speech being expressed in a very public way -- on Speaker's Corner. Close to where the ancient hangings at Tyburn took place, some people think the condemned man's right to speak ended up turning into Speaker's Corner.
Others say worker's demonstrations in the 19th century that happened in Hyde Park led to Speaker's Corner. Whatever started it, it's a long-held tradition in the U.K., and one that is beloved by tourists and Londoners alike. Karl Marx and Lenin both spoke at Speaker's Corner, among others.

Some myths about Speaker's Corner is that you are immune from arrest for speaking your mind. That notion is false, as police step in (only rarely) if they receive a complaint or if the speaker in question is swearing a bit too much.

When you arrive, take a walk up and down the area where the speakers congregate. They talk about all sorts of things -- religion, the U.S., government, war, and anything else they can think of.

The term "getting up on your soapbox" comes from Speaker's Corner. It was another long held notion that if you you were not literally on English soil, you could talk about the monarchy without getting arrested. Not technically true, but it makes for a good story.

In any case, you've got to try it out at least once. And if you have something to say, bring along a soap box and speak your piece!

Directions: Take the Piccadilly line to Hyde Park Corner. Cross the street in front of you and walk along Park Lane. The Speaker's congregate near Marble Arch which is the far corner of the park. Conversely you can walk from your flats north to Kensington Gore/Hyde Park Gate, take a right, follow the park until it ends, take a left across the street, and follow Park Lane to the northern edge of Hyde Park.

1 comment:

PermissionsGroup said...

I need to get permission to use the photo from Hyde Park, England in a college textbook. Do you know who took the photo? Who owns the copyright?