How great would it be to outlaw rude comments? Too bad about that First Amendment thing. I’m Amy E. Feldman.
The town of Southborough, Massachusetts had a policy that read: “All remarks and dialogue in public meetings must be respectful and courteous, free of rude, personal or slanderous remarks.” That is so lovely. Illegal, but lovely. It was challenged by a woman who said in a public meeting that the town was “spending like drunken sailors”. When she was told to stop or the public comment session would be stopped, she replied: “You’re a Hitler. I can say what I want.” Hm. That took a turn for the nasty.
She was escorted out, and filed suit. The Court agreed with her, saying that while the government has a right to set restrictions about when, where, and how long people can talk, the restrictions can’t be based on what people say, which they were here: praise was allowed but not harsh criticism, so the rule was tossed even though it will make the meetings less pleasant.
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