Wednesday, December 02, 2009

And so it goes

Weekly visitor and donor Dr. Charles M. Grossman, MD, arrived this week with a 5-inch bundle of papers under his arm. "I was going to throw all this stuff away, and then I thought I'd just bring it here," he announced. Well, we're glad he decided to bring it in.

Included in the pile are his correspondence files from 1980-81, 1983, and 1987. Raised in an era when carbon copies were produced whenever one typed a letter, Dr. Grossman had migrated to new technology in the 1980s: he was photocopying his personal correspondence and adding it to his files. Many of the letters are to and from Chinese citizens, or pertain to Grossman's activities with the US-China People's Friendship Association and the Evans F. Carlson Friends of the People's Republic of China. Among the cards and notes is a Christmas greeting from Ma Haide to Grossman and his wife, Frosty:


Several of the letters are in Chinese and will require translation into English before we can be sure of their contents.

There is also a folder of materials relating to Grossman's 1967 trip to Berlin to present a paper; articles sent to Physicians for Social Responsibility by a like-minded scientist; and original research on cancers among Hanford Downwinders which Grossman compiled in 2002-03 for a paper with Rudi Nussbaum, PhD (published in Arch Environ Health 2003 May;58(5):267-74).

But the most entertaining file is surely the 2-inch thick white folder containing materials pertaining to Grossman v. City of Portland, the suit arising out of Grossman's 1990 arrest for holding a sign in Waterfront Park during the Rose Festival (he and a small group of others from PSR were protesting the presence of a Navy ship equipped with nuclear weapons). Included is a copy of the final opinion of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, written by Judge Stephen Reinhardt in 1994.

Reinhardt shows himself to be a well-read man with a sense of humor; in footnote 5, he writes: "Section 010 also has been amended since the time of the Grossman affair. It now prohibits persons from participating in "any organized event" in the park without a permit. See PCC 20.08.010. So it goes. See Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five passim (1966)."

Judge Reinhardt found for Grossman that the ordinance was unconstitutional at the time of the arrest. He noted: "While our tradition of the parks as a forum for public debate may have always rested in part on economic concerns, this factor is increasingly significant now, when the extremely rich have an enormous variety of privately-owned media through which to reach the public, and political careers can be launched by the mere fact that the putative candidate has a fortune to spend on advertising. At present, more democratic means of communication -- demonstrations in parks, bumper stickers, signs in the windows of homes -- must be jealously protected."

And so it goes.

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