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Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Mild Speech Doesn't Need Protection"

Posted by on Thu, Jan 20, 2011 at 11:01 AM

Kathleen Taylor, the executive director of the ACLU of Washington, posted on the organization's blog today about why they're suing the county, which banned bus ads critical of Israel:

I have been warned that the Mideast Awareness Campaign bus ads could end up covered with graffiti or that the buses’ operation could be disrupted. These days, people are angry and scared for a whole host of reasons — the economy, war, terrorism, and health care, to name a few — as well as Mideast politics. In a democracy should we stop talking about important policy issues when the terms of the discourse make others very uncomfortable? Can speech be limited if it might provoke someone to commit an act of violence? More broadly, how can we keep America safe and free?

As we consider these questions, let’s keep in mind that mild speech doesn’t need protection. It is when we are faced with controversial speech, speech that is intensely upsetting, that our adherence to the First Amendment is most important.

Instead of banning politically charged statements, King County executive Dow Constantine—who is behind the Constitutionally dubious ban—and local government need to "focus its considerable law enforcement resources on the people who are threatening the violence," says Taylor.


Comments (6) RSS

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no problem.

we can devote limited resources to tracking these bums down.

that should cost 10-20X the amount of revenue the stupid ads generated.

just what we need in the current budgetary enviroment....

obviously, the biggest asses in the state work at ACLU.
Posted by AssCLU on January 20, 2011 at 11:10 AM · Report this
It doesn't speak well of the character of Metro Transit passengers that it's expected of them to create violence in response to a bus ad. Steal someone's iPhone or iPod, punch a pregnant woman, follow passengers off the bus and assault them, slap a blind woman, these are all things Metro Transit passengers have done, presumably without the stimulus of a bus ad.

I'm infuriated by typos on online ads -- they shouldn't happen, it takes just a few seconds to glance at the text but people with online ads jobs either don't know enough, or the jobs pay so little that people who can read won't take them -- but I've learned to stay away from and block ads. Why can't other people do likewise?
Posted by I can't filter out anything, I'm American on January 20, 2011 at 12:53 PM · Report this
"Freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its subsistence is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order."
--Justice Jackson, West Virginia vs. Barnette
Posted by ManicPixieDreamGirl on January 20, 2011 at 1:01 PM · Report this
TVDinner 4
Dow fail, man.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on January 20, 2011 at 1:08 PM · Report this
It's true. My "Police Officers Are Doing A Great Job!" rally was issued permits without any hassle whatsoever. One of the officers assigned to the parade route gave me a hug.
Posted by Proteus on January 20, 2011 at 2:36 PM · Report this
I doubt this will go very far. The ACLU is taking a public forum argument beyond its limits. Although Metro is a public transit authority, the state will easily be able to argue that restrictions to the content of their advertisements are valid because there are time, place, and manner caveats to any public forum.

I think Metro (stupidly) put themselves in a bad position by accepting the ad and processing the payment. Transfer of assets creates a liability and an ad hoc contract between the organizations regardless of whether anything formal was written.

Metro really needs a set of legal and appropriate standards for their advertising which appears to be missing from the equation since the ACLU could easily cite other controversial issues which were advertised on buses. Instead of going from the frying pan to the fire, why not just stay out of the kitchen in the first place?
Posted by snot nosed student on January 20, 2011 at 2:58 PM · Report this

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