Philly Mayor Thinks Magazine Article Not Protected Free Speech

Philly Mayor Thinks Magazine Article Not Protected Free Speech

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter didn’t like an article in Philadelphia Magazine entitled: “Being White in Philly: Whites, Race, Class, and the things that never get said.”  

The mayor was so upset about reading an opinion that he didn’t like, he sent a letter to something called the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission.  The letter uses language that suggests Mayor Nutter doesn’t think the article is protected under the first amendment.  In fact, he even uses scare quotes around the word “speech” when referring to the offending article: 

While I fully recognize that constitutional protections afforded the press are intended to protect the media from censorship by the government, the First Amendment, like other constitutional rights, is not an unfettered right, and notwithstanding the First Amendment, a publisher has a duty to the public to exercise its role in a responsible way. I ask the Commission to evaluate whether the “speech” employed in this essay is not the reckless equivalent of “shouting ‘fire!’ in a crowded theater,” its prejudiced, fact-challenged generalizations an incitement to extreme reaction.

The totalitarian streak that is found in so many big city mayors is really hard to ignore at this point.  Between Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s strong-arm tactics, to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s nanny state and now Nutter’s flirtation with state-controlled censorship, the pattern is getting hard to ignore.  

Meanwhile, champions of free speech have yet to fully chime-in on the speech-chilling actions of the Philadelphia mayor.  But, after all, they have higher priorities.  I mean, who has time to condemn attacks on the first amendment when you still need to use your prime time cable news show to call Sarah Palin names.  


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