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Say What You Will at First Amendment Arena

Wichita, Kan., is no stranger to protests. The location of Women's Health Care Services prior to the shooting death of its medical director, Dr. George Tiller, in 2009, Wichita was the site of what anti-abortion activists called "The Summer of Mercy" in 1991, a two-month-long vigil during which protesters blocked the entrances to Tiller's clinic, chained themselves to fences and lay in the streets to stop traffic. The massive protest led to 2,700 arrests and the passage, in 1994, of the Freedom of Access to Clinics Entrances (FACE) Act, and was repeated on a smaller scale in the summer of 2001.

So today's news that official "First Amendment Areas" have been proposed at Wichita's INTRUST Bank Arena, which opened in January, doesn't come as much of a surprise. Sedgwick County is proposing three such areas outside the venue; sidewalks are also fair game, as they're public property. While the story will certainly go viral in a matter of hours, Wichita residents will probably just shrug: There's already one outside the Sedgwick County Zoo, according to KWCH-TV, and another on the Britt Brown pavilion outside the Kansas Coliseum.

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Inside these venues, it's a different story, as you probably know if you've ever worn a T-shirt or hung a banner that's critical of team management. That is, the home team's management. If you're in New York, it's always permissible to scream "Boston Sucks!", while Wrigley Field management has yet to toss anyone wearing a "Cards Take It in Their Pujols" shirt.

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