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ACLU calls on Chapel Hill to stop bus ad censorship

This was released this morning by the Good folks at the ACLU on North Carolina:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OCTOBER 1, 2012

ACLU-NC to Chapel Hill: Censoring Bus Ads Violates First Amendment

In Letter, Constitutional Law Group Warns Chapel Hill Town Officials that Removing a Bus Ad Because Some Disagree with Its Political Message Would Constitute Content & Viewpoint Discrimination

RALEIGH – The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation (ACLU-NCLF) sent a letter to officials from the Town of Chapel Hill on Friday, urging them to “safeguard cherished First Amendment rights and its reputation as a community welcoming of dialogue” by allowing a recent controversial advertisement to remain on city buses.

The letter was sent after the ACLU-NCLF received numerous complaints from Chapel Hill residents who were concerned by a proposal from some town officials to remove a public bus advertisement paid for by the Church of Reconciliation and featuring a Palestinian and an Israeli man holding their grandchildren with text reading, “Join with us. Build peace with justice and equality. End U.S. military aid to Israel.”

In its letter, the ACLU-NCLF explains that removing the ad solely because of disagreement with its content, as some officials have proposed, would constitute subject matter and viewpoint discrimination in violation of the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“The freedom of citizens to express political beliefs without being censored by their government is one of the most basic and cherished rights protected by our Constitution,” said ACLU-NCLF Legal Director Chris Brook, who authored the letter. “In fact, speech that may be unpopular, controversial, or incite strong emotions is exactly what the First Amendment was designed to protect. We urge Chapel Hill officials to stand up for the free speech rights of their citizens by keeping the town’s bus ads open as a forum for public dialogue free of government censorship.” 

Read the entire letter at acluofnc.org.

The ACLU of North Carolina is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to preserving and expanding the guarantees of individual liberty found in the United States and North Carolina Constitutions and related federal and state civil rights laws. With more than 12,000 members and supporters throughout the state and an office located in Raleigh, the organization achieves its mission through advocacy, public education, community outreach, and when necessary, litigation.

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8 Comments

  1. Frank Burns

    October 1, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    In the interests of fair play, it would be good to place a cartoon of Mohammed on the side of the bus as well.

    Are there any good people at the ACLU? I’m not aware of any.

  2. Michael

    October 1, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Frank, you need to do your homework and learn about the ACLU. They defend the rights of ALL citizens regardless if we agree with what is being said or depicted. Everyone who works for the ACLU is a good person. If they weren’t around, we would be one step closer to being ruled by fascists.

  3. Frank Burns

    October 1, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Michael, I said that as I have never seen anything positive for society come from that organization.

  4. Syd

    October 1, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Typical trolling from Frank Burns. This fake patriot trolls as many progressive sites as he can to spread his brand of hate and intolerance. Usually not worth a reply, but this statement just takes the cake.

    @Frankburns: That’s because you obviously don’t REALLY believe in free speech.

  5. Jeff S

    October 1, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    They made the decision to sell ad space. The ad in question complies with their policies. What’s the problem?

    Didn’t the supreme court just decide that money = speech? Or does that only apply to multi-national corporations and super-pacs?

  6. Frank Burns

    October 1, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Syd, you can call me anything you like if it makes you feel better. I’ll tell you what I’m doing, I’m fighting back. I am resolved to fight back against the bs I see on the computer that continues to go unchallenged and ends up costing me in increased taxes or fees or takes away my rights.

    Go on back to your Blue NC site where NC comes to whine.

  7. david esmay

    October 1, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    You’re not fighting anything Frank, you’re tilting at windmills.

  8. gregflynn

    October 1, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    Watch out David. He has an infra-red camera that can see your soul.