At Eighth and Commercial streetsTwo corners of Astoria's Commercial Street became the living embodiment of the First Amendment last Friday afternoon. Free speech was in evidence as rival points of view expressed themselves. So was another aspect of the First Amendment, "the right of the people peaceably to assemble."

The groups on the northwest and southeast corners of the intersection of Commercial and Eighth streets, disagreed on whether the U.S. should invade Iraq. As Brook Reinhard reported in Monday's edition, the pro-war group appeared after watching the pro-peace group assemble for weeks on end, without challenge.

Regardless of where you stand on this question, it is a good thing that Astorians on both sides of this heated question are assembling in public to express themselves. At a time when voter turnout tumbles, when television and the Internet isolate us, it is especially heartening to see two groups of Americans getting back to the most basic element of our democracy.

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