Thomas Jefferson Fan Arrested for Dancing at His Memorial

Yet another gaping chasm can be seen between the Founders’ Republic and that of the United States of America in the 21st century. By way of introduction, let’s first take note of the lofty words of the author of the Declaration of Independence.

“Dancing is a healthy and elegant exercise, a specific against social awkwardness,” wrote Thomas Jefferson, “but an accomplishment of short use, for the French rule is wise, that no lady dances after marriage...gestation and nursing leaving little time to a married lady when this exercise can be either safe or innocent.”

Perhaps the U.S. Park Police had forgotten Jefferson’s recreational recommendation when they arrested Brooke Oberwetter, 28, for dancing at the Jefferson Memorial, a few minutes before the 265th anniversary of Mr. Jefferson’s birth. The official charge: “interfering with an agency function.” Oberwetter was released five hours after her arrest, but she faces legal costs. The “Free the Jefferson 1” Defense Fund has been created to help defray those costs.

What politically inciting music accompanied Oberwetter’s reported bopping? Was it the Beatles’ “Revolution” (the subversive version)? The Rolling Stones’ “Street Fighting Man”? The Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth”? Or (gasp) Barry McGuire’s kitschy “Eve of Destruction”? Again, truth is stranger than fiction: her compatriots report that it was Rob Base’s 1988 song, “It Takes Two”—which Oberwetter was listening to on her iPod!

What’s next? School children arrested for cleaning litter from an abandoned lot while singing John Denver’s “Earth Day Every Day” to themselves?

Video clips.

More about “the Jefferson 1” incident.

Carl P. Close is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, Assistant Editor of The Independent Review and editor of Independent’s weekly e-mail newsletter The Lighthouse.
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